17 August 2008

Special Correspondent, from Lake Forest, CA

(From Michael)

Disclosure: I am a biased, right-wing supporting, laissez faire-encouraging, Sowell/D'Souza/O'Rourke/Coulter/Williams/Buckley/Friedman/Wall Street Journal Op-Ed/Bennett-reading, freedom-loving conservative. *breath* I think Antonin Scalia is the best thing that has ever happened to the Supreme Court and Robert Bork not being Chief is the worst. I think that Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint are the best hope for the Repubs, and that "Leave Us Alone" would be a great plank in a party platform. Imprinted on my political soul is the sentiment from a T-shirt I saw the other day: an outline of The Gipper with the words "What He Said" underneath. On the other hand, I was voted "Most Opinionated" by my graduating class and it was years before I understood that it was NOT a complement. Hopefully, with age has come maturity and a measure of graciousness... OK, so now we're introduced.

First a little comedy:

Driving through Lake Forest, I saw nothing but Ron Paul supporters. Everywhere. Signs, banners, tents, posters, t-shirts, loudspeakers, the whole shebang. The local press warned of hundreds of protesters from the entire political spectrum, but I didn't see them!

Lots and lots of security, bag checks, a group of mean-looking folks that put the TSA weenies to shame. I was standing in line to get approval to enter, hearing "Photo ID please" over and over and over, and as the security fellow asked me for mine, I pulled out my wallet and realized "Doh!" that my driver's license was nowhere to be found! He was not happy, frowning as I fumbled through my Costanza-thick wallet, impatient to attend to the throng behind me. "Well, I do have my Sports Club LA/Irvine photo ID with me," I said as I showed it to him. "Oh sure, that'll do. Thanks. Enjoy." Hysterical.

It was quite a production. TV cameras, press people, tons of video/audio stuff, Secret Service and security folk all over the place. And also a bit of a celebrity watch (humiliating admission: I love seeing famous people. It's fun! I'm the ├╝ber-geek that points out "Hey, that looks like Topol! Or is it Ringo?!"). There's Gary Bauer, here's Michael W. Smith, that guy I recognize from Focus, this guy's famous, there's a well-known pastor... I'm sure there were more, but I wanted to keep my rubbernecking to a minimum. Quite exciting!

That said, I got chills when both Obama and then McCain walked on stage, just a few yards away. What an incredible privilege to be at this historic event! Very surreal and exhilarating.

My Obama analysis: Smooth as silk, very handsome and polished, suave, just oozing ease and charisma. I can see why people LOVE this guy. Before he said a word, I loved him, too! However, right from the start, it seemed that he was going to be as disappointingly indirect as possible. Long non-answering answers ruled. Although Rick Warren's questions covered most of the political issues confronting us, Senator Obama seemed to stick with answers designed to appease everyone. He only gave specific responses on a few questions: abortion (pro), taxes (pro), judges (anti-Thomas and anti-Scalia). The rest of his answers meandered at length, seeming to be preparation for a guest-appearance on Sesame Street (gentle, non-specific fuzzy-warmth) or with Tony Robbins (excited, non-specific fuzzy-warmth). I was hoping for a more ideological discussion detailing his policies, point by point by point. Although I disagreed with some of his points and wasn't sure what he actually believed on others, I understand the wave of support for him as he is an obviously super brilliant and impressive individual.

My McCain analysis: Surprisingly stiff and rigid as he entered and greeted Senator Obama, Pastor Warren and the audience. I felt immediately terrified for him that this night was going to be a disaster. But I was wrong. Way wrong. He was sharp, very funny, and 100% direct and succinct. The issues and responses: evil -- defeat it; taxes -- anti; education -- all about choices and competition (home schooling, charters, private, vouchers, etc.), and fire the sub par teachers. The Fox guy this morning described it as "The Straight Talk Express on steroids." Totally. And I found myself incredulous. And cheering. And wanting to stand in applause. Hankering to buy some stickers and yard signs.

The juxtaposition between the two candidates was incredible!

That's me (bottom corner of photo) our seats were 5 rows back and just off center! Awesome!

It was if Obama was cautious and over-thinking "I need to make sure to be inclusive, and not alienate anyone..." which I found to be off-putting. McCain seemed to be talking straight off the cuff communicating "This is what I strongly believe on the issue. Like it or lump it." I couldn't help but like it.

The candidates on abortion:

The candidates on education:

The candidates on the Supremes:

When I got home, Laurie and I watched it for the 2nd time, awed that I was there, totally grateful to to be able to be such a close-hand observer of the process. Enormous thanks to my fellow political junkie buddy, Curtis Yates, for making it possible!


Michael and Michelle said...

I totally agree!!!! McCain was AWESOME!!!! He was funny, quick and smart!!! This really got me excited!!! I couldn't wait to see what you guys thought.
That for the update!

Michelle (AGCI family)

Wolfemom said...

Michael, Thanks for that! We watched as much as we could between the Olympics...and Phelps getting his 8th Gold... and you were right on with McCain. Obama said a lot and yet not much. You could tell McCain wanted to comment on the homeschooling issue in CA.

Tish said...

thanks so much for posting this! i was just reading about the event in the paper and can't wait to watch the videos.

emily said...

Not sure where to start! Ok, Laurie the youtube video was a treat, thank you. :)

Love the post Michael. Your sweet bald head came in very handy for indentifying purposes in that photo, nice job. Very funny and witty, not that it is surprising. Liked your analysis, Fox should give you a call!

Miss you guys- 3 days my friend and we are out-of-here!!

Tish said...

watched the videos...great! thanks again for sharing. been meaning to tell you i love the new photos of your family on the blog!!!

Journey Students Leaders said...

Ahh, your post brings back memories of our political discussion over cigars and jet fuel in your backyard one warm California evening… but the political landscape has changed a bit since that night in April. Of course the more things change the more they stay the same. This recent debate only brings to clear focus what any rational thinking person (not distracted by the “rockstar” persona or the old guy jokes) already knows. Character is king. Like the great biography written by Peggy Noonan about President Reagan (When Character Was King) so beautifully shows, character does matter. Of course we have the legacy of the Clinton’s, which is the dog food of the liberal masses, denying character as a necessary trait for the leader of the free world. My briefest summary of this debate is that Obama came across as his expected wishy-washy, non-committal, appeasing, I want every vote I can get and not offend anybody if possible self. McCain on the other hand came across as a man of conviction and beliefs who was willing to state them and let the chips fall where they may. I can respect someone who I disagree with if they are willing to stand for what they believe in. Obama is not that man. The man who stands for anything or everything stands for nothing. I’ve never been a huge McCain fan and I don’t agree with him on everything, but I know where he stands and I know he has character (see: http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/05/08/mccains-former-hanoi-cell-mate-describes-character-in-deplorable-conditions). His military service alone doesn’t qualify him to be President, but it speaks to who he is. Character matters. It matters in life and it matters in the White House. Here’s my quick litmus test Q&A for picking a presidential candidate:
1. Would you like higher taxes?
2. Would you like to have nationalized health care?
3. Would you like to have a weakened military and foreign policy that believes in pacification and normalization (think U.N.)?
4. Would you like a liberal supreme court that legislates from the bench without regard for the constitution?
5. Do you think that abortion is OK?
6. Do you want an even bigger government to tell you how to run your life?
I took my own quick test and I answered no to every question. Which tells me I probably shouldn’t vote for Obama. Of course if you’re a liberal you’ll say I’m just eating the conservative dog food. That’s OK, I find it so rich and meaty.

-big red

The Redman's said...

Do I claim that "Big Red" is my husband???

I sure do! (though I noticed he didn't post it under our "redmansjourney" blog!!!!)

-Suzi :)

Laurzie said...

Redmans, you rock! We love you guys! Hey, when is our trip??? :)

Karen said...

So, didn't you dig that format for the debate? i DID! how nice it was to not have to listen to all the posturing and banter!! I appreciated McCain's straightforward answers SO much--though the 'storytelling' reminded me of my grandma, and i already have concerns about McCain dying in office, or getting Parkinsons, and the storytelling just made me think--jeez, this guy is ancient.

BUT, that said, I did really appreciate his straightforward answers, and thought he was rather witty for him--(why can't he move his top lip when he speaks?)

And WHY did he have to have an affair on his first wife? this is still a major issue for me--cause i think cheaters speak to a different sort of egotistical, character default, and personally I think: once a cheater, always a cheater, and even though he's been married to his second wife for a long time, i still have trouble looking past this issue.

BUT, how do i know obama hasn't cheated?

OK, but all that said, you know that i stand with you on the small government, let-me-give-away-my-money-to-whom-I-choose, fundamental fiscal conservative view. And the pro-life policy. And the fact that we need to stop sending our money to Islamic extremists via the pipeline.

I'm SOOO glad you were able to go!!

Rebecca Lily said...

Wow this is awesome!! GO MCCAIN!


Unknown said...

"But Topol and ringo look nothing alike...so it really could have been anybody"

Really, great post. I was just thrilled to see Obama on a "speak without a speech" platform.

I know McCain was sort of playing to the audience as he had the "home court advantage" but still the fact that these videos can be shown anywhere give me hope that his policies will follow.

Laurzie said...

LOL, Six!
"Not a classic anecdote!" :D

Liesl said...

I used to be a "stay away from politics" kinda girl, but my goodness, this world is starting to get scary so I need to be more informed with these elections. I really enjoyed the format that was presented with Rick Warren. Michael, I think your analysis was right on.

Frankly, Obama scares me a bit (so much charm to win over so many, all talk, yet not really saying anything) but I was worried about how McCain would present himself in this format. To be honest, McCain was basically the "lesser of two evils" for me. Until this forum. I was so pleased! It was so informative, and I learned a lot. I also loved the fact that it was not presented in the typical "twisted by the news media" way.

Thanks for posting this. Excellent!

FHL said...

Hoping, Praying, will be Crying if McCain doesn't win! Obama just gives me chills everytime I see him. Maybe because my husband is in the military and the thought of having him as the commander & chief would be nothing short of deeply disturbing. Thanks Michael for this update. Now I'm off to go watch the videos!

D.Lake said...

Love your melon Mike!