John McCain and Barack Obama have participated in a televised interview before an audience of evangelical Christians. The Christian-right in America, by implication, usually votes Republican and I feel this election will be no different, particularly given the candidates responses to the questions posed by the interviewer Rev. Rick Warren. The two men were both asked what I would regard as rather probing questions, and to be fair both candidates answered professionally and gave very considered responses.
However once again I found myself distrustful of Obama and what he was saying. I just didn’t feel he was being genuine. Perhaps it was the fact that with every question Obama seemed to look away and stare at the floor whilst he considered his responses. However his biblical reference to Matthew seemed blatantly pre planned, after all if you’re going to a religious arena its always good to have a few bible quotes up your sleeve!
In a move that is unlikely to please evangelical christians, Obama stated that when it comes to abortion he is pro choice. However he attempted to save his skin when he stated that he would do his best to reduce the number of abortions in America. Similarly when questioned on same sex marriage Obama stated his belief that as far as he is concerned marriage is a sacred bond between a man, woman and god (nice crowd pleaser) however when questioned further Obama conceded that he does support same-sex civil unions, saying, “I can afford those civil rights to others even if I don’t have … that view.”
McCain however at more than one point moved me greatly, particularly when he reminisced about his time in a POW camp in Vietnam. His words appeared genuine and heartfelt born out of years of experience and undeniable courage. You could see the emotion in McCains eyes when he was asked by Rev. Warren what he regarded as his most ‘gut renching decision’.
McCain replied that the Vietnamese said because his father was a high ranking Admiral he could leave prison early however McCain stated that there was a code of conduct which stipulated that you only leave by order of capture and given his poor physical condition he was sorely tempted to leave. However there was a friend of his who had been in the camp longer and he said rejected the chance to leave in favour of his friend. He continued to say he sat in his cell after his rejection of early release and the interrogator told him ‘Its going to be even tougher on you now’ but he knew he had made the right decision.
Later in the interview McCain also made careful reference to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, two of my personal heroes, so that got him a few extra brownie points! In many ways John McCain reminds me of a cross between Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. He has the determination and decency of Ford combined with the courage and conviction of Reagan. Ford took a great personal risk against popular opinion to pardon Richard Nixon, a decision which contributed heavily to his defeat to Jimmy Carter in the next election but he did it because it was the right thing to do. I see paralels here with McCains stance on Iraq and his support of Bush.
Similarly McCain like Ronald Reagan is a man who isn’t afraid to make the decisions neccessary to achieve a long term peace. He has courage and foresight to see a job through even if it flies in the face of popular opinion. He wont comprimise his principles and in a time when the world needs resolute and not populist leadership from Washington, his oppositions foreign policy represents a great danger.
Obama said in Berlin ‘The Cold War shows what can happen when the world stands as one’. Perhaps he needs a refresher course in Cold War history but the Berlin Wall most certainly did not come down because the world stood as one. It fell because of decades long, existential struggle against one of the greatest, left wing, totalitarian ideologies mankind has ever faced. It was a struggle than only succeeded because of resolute and determined leadership from leaders like Thatcher and Reagan who believed that if good is right and evil is wrong we should never compromise.
McCain is made of similar metal. He will do what is neccessary for America and the world. He will lead us to victory in Iraq and stabilise the region in a way Obama, or indeed Bush, never could because he has the experience to know that great causes can only be achieved by great sacrifice. McCain is self sacrificing as his political record and his experiences in Vietman show all too clearly.