McCain’s testimony before the Warren Commission
By: Robert E. Meyer
It was McCain’s finest hour so far–that hour he spent answering questions in an interview conducted by Pastor Rick Warren, at Saddleback church in California.
Up until now, many evangelicals have had good reason for afflictions of cold feet and uneasiness about McCain’s candidacy under the Republican banner. After McCain’s “testimony” this past weekend, I have a feeling that many weary pilgrims will be coming in from the cold and into the fold.
In the 2000 election, McCain alienated many evangelicals with his disparaging comments during the primary season. It turned out to be the final death knell for his candidacy in the Republican presidential primaries.
Since then, McCain has sought selected opportunities to repair the rifts in his tenuous relationship with evangelical voters. One such occasion was a visit to Liberty University, where McCain was attempting to make amends with Falwell and his student body, some years after condemning Falwell as a “divisive” political figure.
Of course, evangelicals, suspicious of being played as political pawns, were happy to forgive McCain his past transgressions, yet completely without regard to embracing his campaign in any significant numbers. In fact, until recently, many prominent leaders, such as Focus on the Family’s skipper, Dr. James Dobson, were publicly declaring that their own vote might be cast for “none of the above.” McCain was deemed as such a poor conservative choice that he couldn’t even qualify as the “lesser of evils” when it comes to casting a ballot.
Committed Christians had determined that McCain was at best lukewarm, when it came to those issues they viewed as most important. In his interview with Warren, McCain made some positive progress to reverse prior bad impressions.
The interesting aside here, is that many conservative evangelicals have also been suspicious of Pastor Warren’s fidelity to traditional Christianity. There are several reason for that uneasiness. Two of the main bones of contention are the belief that mega churches like Warren’s must water down orthodox Christian theology in order to gain such a large congregation of followers. Also, the fact that Warren mentions that there is more to Christianity than opposition to abortion and same-sex marriages, signals to some, that he doesn’t think these issues are of significant consequence.
The irony is that McCain winds up looking more conservative, despite being interviewed by a religious leader who some think is on the fringe of acceptability.
Warren’s demeanor during the interview was impressive, never revealing himself as a charismatic religious leader with a methodology that mingles Christianity with pop psychology.
McCain has earned some brownie points temporarily, but he could quickly be thrown even further under the bus by moral conservatives if his upcoming vice-presidential selection is displeasing, or even merely unsatisfactory in the eyes the conservative base he needs and covets.
What I find surprising about this whole escapade, is the lack of hue and cry from secularists. One would have thought there would have been multiple caniptions from the usual suspects about such a politically tinted event being held in a church.
It will be interesting to see if McCain can parlay his recent performance, by choosing a strong vice-presidential candidate.