It's no surprise that the candidate forum with Pastor Rick Warren provided viewers a meaningful understanding of the candidates and their positions on important issues. Warren's approach to the candidates was a much-needed antidote to the 10-second sound bite, well prepared talking points and the "gotcha" questions.
All too often political campaigns are a battle of the sound bite. Candidates can be blemished by a few words they have misstated or small snippets of comments they make taken out of context. A candidate can be defined by negative advertisements that pound home a clumsy phrase or awkward moment of the campaign. And, in the give and go of our fast paced media world, there is seldom an opportunity or a forum to thoughtfully address issues.
Yes, Warren's forum dealt with issues through faith. And his audience was largely made up of conservative evangelical Christians. Nonetheless, it covered a lot of important ground. And, most importantly, it gave the candidates the opportunity to address important questions in a thoughtful manner. As a result, the contrasts between Senators McCain and Obama were apparent. And their answers revealed much about their character and personalities.
My hope is that there will many such conversations prior to November's general election. Perhaps a leading secular leader from academia or business can step forward to host such a forum. Further, the presidential commission on debates should take a close look to Warren's forum as guidance for structuring their debates.
This is one of the most critical presidential elections in the history of America, too much is at stake to reduce critical issues to dueling sound bites. Pastor Warren, we "gotcha." American does deserve more.