Irving Kristol’s son believes John McCain aced the Rick Warren Saddleback forum on Saturday night. McCain’s stiff, talking point answers and citation of Islamic terrorists as evil won the day for the neocons. Obama’s thoughtful, forum-appropriate answers elicited this typical “smirking weasel” response:
But, Obama added, “Now, the one thing that I think is very important is for us to have some humility” as we confront evil. Why? Because “a lot of evil has been perpetrated based on the claim that we were trying to confront evil.” After all, “just because we think our intentions are good doesn’t always mean that we’re going to be doing good.”
It’s nice to see a liberal aware of the limits of good intentions — indeed, that the road to hell is paved with them. But here as elsewhere, Obama stayed at a high level of abstraction. It would have been interesting if Warren had asked a follow-up question: Where in particular has the United States in recent years — at home or especially abroad — perpetrated evil in the name of confronting evil? Hasn’t the overwhelming problem been, rather, a reluctance to effectively confront evil — in Darfur, or Rwanda, or pre-9/11 Afghanistan?
If you can’t see killing innocent children as evil then you’ve got real problems. Even if accidental and during a mission of resolute good (of which Iraq is hardly an exemplar).
Irving Kristol’s son knows this, but he writes the line out of political considerations. He knows that this kind of question might force Obama to say something politically unpopular, however true. He is hoping that one of the anchors of the upcoming debates will take the bait, and fire it up.
All I can say is thank God Charlie Gibson isn’t moderating.
Update (8/18/08): As it turns out John McCain was not in a room where he couldn’t hear the questions that were being asked of Obama. Later stories revealed that both Obama and McCain received some of the questions in advance. This turn of events casts doubt on Rick Warren and, of course, on John McCain. From the start, the whole thing was lie. Furthermore, McCain could easily have received the questions by text or email from someone in the audience. The funniest part of this whole ugly mess is the comically spurious logic of a McCain spokesman, who said:
“The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous.”