At the "Saddleback Civil Forum" on Saturday, Pastor Rick Warren asked questions of both Barack Obama and John McCain about their views and what their respective presidencies would be like.
Warren asked Obama what the dividing line would be between the "rich" and the "middle class." Obama responded that he wanted a fair tax structure that didn't allow the richest among us to enjoy more tax breaks than the poor and middle class. He said that people making $250,000 per year were in the top 3 or 4 percent, and they were "pretty well-off." He said that under his tax plan, those making less than $150,000 per year would actually get a tax cut, while those making more than that would see a modest tax increase.
When asked the same question, McCain gave his standard answer: "I don't want to raise taxes on anybody." When pressed for an answer that was actually responsive to the question, McCain said that if it were to be decided solely on income, "rich" would be "around $5 million."
Yeah, that would definitely be "rich." I suppose that means McCain would consider someone who only makes $4 million a year to be middle class.
When asked which sitting Supreme Court Justices he would not have nominated, Obama's first answer was Clarence Thomas. He said Thomas did not have the background in the law that he should have had to be on the Supreme Court. He also said he wouldn't have nominated Scalia.
When asked about Chief Justice John Roberts, Obama said that Roberts was certainly qualified by his background, but that he had failed to "guard against the encroachment of the executive branch," and had shown a proclivity to allow far too broad an expansion of the power of a president. He said Roberts was too willing to let the executive have his way.
Warren moved on before Obama could reach the question of Justice Samuel Alito.
Asked the same question, McCain said that he would not have nominated Justices Ginsburg, Souter, Stevens, and Breyer. He cited the standard Republican code words of "judicial activism" as his reason.
McCain emphasized that he was completely pro-life and always had been. He said that he believes life begins at conception, and that his policies would always be pro-life policies, and that he would only nominate pro-life judges - not just for the Supreme Court, but all federal judges.
Senator Obama made clear that he believed the decision was a personal one that should be made by the mother, her doctor, and the counsel of her family, friends, and spiritual adviser as she sees fit. He said we should provide options for women that make it easier to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and easier to have the child, whether she decides to keep the child or place it for adoption.
McCain made clear where he thinks the powers of the Presidency lie. He said, "The President of the United States' greatest asset is the bully pulpit."
McCain also identified his "great hero and role model" as President Teddy Roosevelt.
The differences in the tone of the candidates couldn't have been more disparate. While Obama seemed to be thoughtful and attempted to give answers specific to the questions asked of him, McCain's answers seemed "canned," and he had obviously pre-planned anecdotes which he tried to work into his replies even when they had nothing to do with the question asked of him. He seemed to be more comfortable trying to get laughs from the audience than dealing seriously with the issues.
By JC Garrett