The difference in opinion about what happened at Saddleback may indeed represent a crystallization of people’s “worldviews” (or faith, as Rick Warren would have it).
I expect nothing less from the Republi-Conservative commentariat than the usual cheerleading for their man. Kristol, Gerson, et al. proclaim that McCain won big; it’s little wonder, they say, that Obama ducked the townhall meetings. McCain was at his best (questions of cheating aside).
However, from my perspective, Obama won the day and, I think, in the end, I will be proven right. One of Obama’s most important tasks is to introduce himself to people and help them trust him. His measured, thoughtful, and clearly honest responses to Warren’s questions helped enormously with that task. Especially in front of an audience that could be expected to be hostile to him. Americans desperately crave an honest politician. Obama is as close as you can get to that ideal. I noted with some pleasure, significant applause for a number of his positions. There is, and will be, some evangelical support for Obama. Before the event, 24% of evangelicals supported him. Let’s see what the polls say now that it’s over.
McCain, for his part, gets credit for remembering his lines. He knows his talking points and, as usual, he is being graded on a curve. The GOP must have been terrified that he would pull a classic dud debate performance. Relieved, they praise him to the rafters. But Americans who watched the whole show know who the real winner was. They felt it.