Saturday night, CNN broadcast the Saddleback Presidential Candidates Forum. I have to admit I was paying more attention to whether or not Michael Phelps was going to win his eighth gold medal than a faith and politics discussion, but when I did watch the forum, I was impressed and surprised. The tone of the evening was set by the host, Pastor Rick Warren:
PASTOR RICK WARREN, SADDLEBACK CHURCH: Welcome to the Saddleback Civil Forum on the Presidency. I guess you got my invitation. We're here in Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Tonight, we're going to use the interview format with these two candidates. We believe in the separation of church and state, but we do not believe in the separation of faith and politics, because faith is just a world view, and everybody has some kind of world view. It's important to know what they are.
Now, what I decided is to allow for proper comparison, I'm going to ask identical questions to each of these candidates. So you can compare apples to apples. Now, Senator Obama is going to go first. We flipped a coin, and we have safely placed Senator McCain in a cone of silence. Now, each of the interviews will be segmented into four different sections. We're going to look at four different things, and the number of questions answered in each segment will depend on how succinct the senator is.
I have to tell you up front, both of these guys are my friends. I don't happen to agree with everything each of them teach or believe, but they both care deeply about America. They're both patriots. And they have very different views on how America can be strengthened. In America, we've got to learn to disagree without demonizing each other and we need to restore civility -- Yes. We need to restore civility in our civil discourse, and that's the goal of the Saddleback Civil Forum.
If you missed seeing the program on TV, CNN has the program available for viewing online in four parts:
CNN aired a one hour pre- forum and one hour post- forum program both anchored by CNN's Chief National Correspondent, John King. A few clips of the political analysis have been posted to CNN.com:
One more clip for you tonight from CNN.com. This is part of an interview that John King did with Sen. John McCain as part of the Revealed documentary that is scheduled to air on Wednesday night at 8PM ET.
We're less than 80 days away from the general election and less than a week away from the first convention. We're in store for a political blizzard over the next few weeks. This is the time that political junkies savor and those that want well rounded news coverage throw their hands up in the air in disgust.
On Reliable Sources this morning, Jeff Jarvis from BuzzMachine.com was talking to Howard Kurtz about the number of journalists that will be at the political conventions. He made an interesting point that goes well beyond the coverage of just the conventions:
The journalistic allocation, we overcover politics and undercover government. We undercover life and what really matters to people. We think that politics is life, and it's not.