3 Days After Saddleback, Obama Looks Even Sillier

Patrick Casey
Three days after the Presidential forum at Saddleback Church in California, revelations are still coming out that makes the Obama campaign's complaint that John McCain "cheated" look even more like the infantile schoolyard whining of a loser.

The Washington Post has an article this morning, expanding on something that we first learned about yesterday, revealing that both candidates had been made aware of several questions that were going to be asked, and were also informed of the various issues that Rick Warren was going to cover during their interviews: Candidates Got Advance Look at Questions.

Responding to questions about whether Sen. John McCain had an unfair advantage over Sen. Barack Obama at Saturday's forum on faith at the Saddleback Church in California, a spokesman for the Rev. Rick Warren said both candidates had an advance look at a few questions.

Spokesman A. Larry Ross said the candidates had agreed that McCain would not listen to Obama's interview, which came first by a coin-flip agreement. But Ross said Warren gave them both a sense of what to expect.
Warren provided McCain and Obama with the four subject areas, Ross said -- leadership, stewardship, worldview and international compassion -- and provided them a sense of the themes he would ask about, including topics such as energy and taxes.

He also offered three examples of questions he planned to ask: What is your greatest moral failure? What is America's greatest moral failure? Who are the three people you rely on for wise advice?

With these revelations, Barack Obama's performance on Saturday night looks even worse. It's becoming abundantly clear that Obama's "eloquence" and "oratorical skills" rely solely on the availability of a teleprompter. If he's asked to think on his feet, even if he's been made aware of the types of questions and subject matter beforehand, he's in deep trouble.

In a way, it seems as if the Obama campaign wasn't satisfied with seeing their candidate get a drubbing on Saturday night; they needed that drubbing to continue on for a few days. Notice how the Washington Post article above begins:

"Responding to questions about whether Sen. John McCain had an unfair advantage over Sen. Barack Obama at Saturday's forum on faith at the Saddleback Church in California...".

Had Obama not made a point of complaining loudly that McCain had cheated, this information would probably have never come out.

Barack Obama brought this on himself. Either he or his campaign hand-fed Andrea Mitchell the line about McCain cheating, and she dutifully reported it as fact on NBC News without checking it out herself. The Obama campaign wanted this "cheating" angle to become conventional wisdom, and was counting on the media to not do any follow-up reporting. They did, and Obama's strategy has backfired.

In something that probably should have been included in today's Washington Post's article, but for some reason wasn't, the Post's own Howard Kurtz commented on what Mitchell did during his weekly Internet Q&A, as relayed to us by MediaBistro.com's "FishbowlDC": Kurtz: Mitchell Gave Obama Campaign "Free Shot" At McCain:

Arlington, Va.: How unprofessional was it for Andrea Mitchel and NBC News to air anonymous allegations that McCain had cheated and heard the questions in advance during Saturdays' event? Wouldn't an unbiased discussion have included denials from the McCain campaign? Instead of being a stenographer for the Obama campaign, shouldn't she have done some reporting on the subject (checking out the room, etc....) before spouting their spin on nationwide TV?

Howard Kurtz: Here's the exchange:
ANDREA MITCHELL: The Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because that--what they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.

DAVID GREGORY: Right.

ANDREA MITCHELL: He seemed so well prepared.

Mitchell's defense is that she was just repeating a charge made by Obama aides. I would not have raised it without evidence, or at least without someone from the Obama camp going on the record. Otherwise you're just giving them a free shot without his campaign having to back it up.

Well, Andrea, thanks to you we now know that Barack Obama should have been as well prepared as John McCain -- they both knew what they were going to be talking about. As that tidbit makes Obama look even smaller, we're wondering what your opinion is on what that tells us about your candidat...err...Obama? No need to clear your answer first with the Obama campaign -- what's your opinion, as a journalist and political commentator?

So not only does John McCain convincingly win what can arguably be called the first Presidential debate of the 2008 Election season, he gets to watch his opponent take his own campaign, along with Andrea Mitchell and the Obama state media network NBC, down a few more notches.

Not a bad weekend's work.
Three days after the Presidential forum at Saddleback Church in California, revelations are still coming out that makes the Obama campaign's complaint that John McCain "cheated" look even more like the infantile schoolyard whining of a loser.

The Washington Post has an article this morning, expanding on something that we first learned about yesterday, revealing that both candidates had been made aware of several questions that were going to be asked, and were also informed of the various issues that Rick Warren was going to cover during their interviews: Candidates Got Advance Look at Questions.

Responding to questions about whether Sen. John McCain had an unfair advantage over Sen. Barack Obama at Saturday's forum on faith at the Saddleback Church in California, a spokesman for the Rev. Rick Warren said both candidates had an advance look at a few questions.

Spokesman A. Larry Ross said the candidates had agreed that McCain would not listen to Obama's interview, which came first by a coin-flip agreement. But Ross said Warren gave them both a sense of what to expect.
Warren provided McCain and Obama with the four subject areas, Ross said -- leadership, stewardship, worldview and international compassion -- and provided them a sense of the themes he would ask about, including topics such as energy and taxes.

He also offered three examples of questions he planned to ask: What is your greatest moral failure? What is America's greatest moral failure? Who are the three people you rely on for wise advice?

With these revelations, Barack Obama's performance on Saturday night looks even worse. It's becoming abundantly clear that Obama's "eloquence" and "oratorical skills" rely solely on the availability of a teleprompter. If he's asked to think on his feet, even if he's been made aware of the types of questions and subject matter beforehand, he's in deep trouble.

In a way, it seems as if the Obama campaign wasn't satisfied with seeing their candidate get a drubbing on Saturday night; they needed that drubbing to continue on for a few days. Notice how the Washington Post article above begins:

"Responding to questions about whether Sen. John McCain had an unfair advantage over Sen. Barack Obama at Saturday's forum on faith at the Saddleback Church in California...".

Had Obama not made a point of complaining loudly that McCain had cheated, this information would probably have never come out.

Barack Obama brought this on himself. Either he or his campaign hand-fed Andrea Mitchell the line about McCain cheating, and she dutifully reported it as fact on NBC News without checking it out herself. The Obama campaign wanted this "cheating" angle to become conventional wisdom, and was counting on the media to not do any follow-up reporting. They did, and Obama's strategy has backfired.

In something that probably should have been included in today's Washington Post's article, but for some reason wasn't, the Post's own Howard Kurtz commented on what Mitchell did during his weekly Internet Q&A, as relayed to us by MediaBistro.com's "FishbowlDC": Kurtz: Mitchell Gave Obama Campaign "Free Shot" At McCain:

Arlington, Va.: How unprofessional was it for Andrea Mitchel and NBC News to air anonymous allegations that McCain had cheated and heard the questions in advance during Saturdays' event? Wouldn't an unbiased discussion have included denials from the McCain campaign? Instead of being a stenographer for the Obama campaign, shouldn't she have done some reporting on the subject (checking out the room, etc....) before spouting their spin on nationwide TV?

Howard Kurtz: Here's the exchange:
ANDREA MITCHELL: The Obama people must feel that he didn't do quite as well as they might have wanted to in that context, because that--what they're putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama.

DAVID GREGORY: Right.

ANDREA MITCHELL: He seemed so well prepared.

Mitchell's defense is that she was just repeating a charge made by Obama aides. I would not have raised it without evidence, or at least without someone from the Obama camp going on the record. Otherwise you're just giving them a free shot without his campaign having to back it up.

Well, Andrea, thanks to you we now know that Barack Obama should have been as well prepared as John McCain -- they both knew what they were going to be talking about. As that tidbit makes Obama look even smaller, we're wondering what your opinion is on what that tells us about your candidat...err...Obama? No need to clear your answer first with the Obama campaign -- what's your opinion, as a journalist and political commentator?

So not only does John McCain convincingly win what can arguably be called the first Presidential debate of the 2008 Election season, he gets to watch his opponent take his own campaign, along with Andrea Mitchell and the Obama state media network NBC, down a few more notches.

Not a bad weekend's work.