Richard Exley Ministries

Substance or Style: My Take on the Faith Forum with McCain and Obama
Posted on August 20, 2008

I wasn’t scheduled to write a blog this week, but the Rick Warren Faith Forum with Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama has generated so much interest that I wanted to weigh in.  First kudos for Pastor Rick Warren for having the vision to stage an event like this.  To my knowledge it is the first time anything like this has ever been done. I especially appreciated his rejoinder to those who accused him of violating the separation of church and state. He said, “I support the separation of church and state but not the separation of faith and politics. Faith,” he explained, “is a person’s world view. It determines how he will make decisions and interpret world events.”

Never have the differences between McCain and Obama been more obvious. Obama went first and he was comfortable, conversational, charming, and even witty at times. When he finished I felt sorry for McCain. I didn’t see how he could top Barack’s performance. Don’t misunderstand me. I am at odds with most of the positions Obama espoused, still I couldn’t help but admire his gifts. He was a very effective communicator but as I told my wife, he seemed to have more style than substance. 

McCain exceeded my wildest expectations and nearly everyone else’s as well. He was decisive! Whether talking about his pro-life convictions, evil in the world or his energy program he was unequivocal. There was no doubting where he stood. And he managed to come across as a caring human being to boot. Is he without flaws? Of course not. No one lives 72 years without making some mistakes. Still when the night was over John McCain was the clear winner. Obama was good but McCain was great!

Maybe Dick Morris, Fox News Contributor, summed the evening up best when he said that John McCain carried himself like a commander while Barack Obama came across like a constitutional lawyer. Only Dick Morris knows exactly what he meant by that remark, but I understood it to mean that, in his opinion, Barack Obama is indecisive. The last time we had a President with that tendency we ended up with hostages in Iran, runaway inflation and interest rates as high as 22%. A President has to be decisive; the security of our nation depends upon it.

As I compared the two candidates I was reminded of a story Mickey Lolich shared while appearing on the Tonight Show following the 1968 World Series. You baseball buffs will remember that the Detroit Tigers beat the defending champions, the St. Louis Cardinals, in seven games despite the fact that the Cardinals appeared to be the better team. The Cardinals were led by pitching ace Bob Gibson, one of the all time greats. In addition to Gibson, who set a World Series record with 17 strikeouts in game one, they also had Lou Brock. He played spectacularly, batting.464 while scoring 6 runs and stealing a World Series record 7 bases. No one was surprised when St. Louis went out to a 3-1 game lead.

Yet, the Detroit Tigers battled back setting up a climatic game seven. Pitching on just two days rest, Lolich matched Bob Gibson pitch for pitch through six scoreless innings. He seemed to waver when Brock led off the seventh with a single. With Curt Flood at the plate and Brock threatening to steal on every pitch, Lolich shook off catcher Bill Freehan several times. Finally, Detroit Manager Mayo Smith called time and trotted out to the mound to see what was going on.  And as Lolich informed Johnny Carson, “I told him, ‘I’ve figured this game out. Nothing bad can happen until I throw this ball, so I’m just not going to throw it.’”

I laughed, Johnny Carson laughed, Ed McMahon laughed, the Tonight Show audience laughed, and I’m sure millions of Americans sitting in living rooms, in front of black and white TV’s all across America, laughed. It was a humorous moment filled with profound truth. And all of us could identify with Lolich, at least I know I could. While most of us will never pitch in the World Series or be President of the United States, we’ve all faced decisions that we knew would shape our destiny. In those moments we’re all tempted to hold the ball – that is we’re tempted to make no decision.

And Lolich was right – nothing bad can happen until we make the pitch, but nothing good can happen either. Weighing all the options, listening to all the opinions, considering all the factors is important, but there comes a time when you have to act. Your future may well depend upon it. And if you’re the President of the United States the security of your country and the free world will depend on it.

I want a President who is thoughtful without being indecisive, who is resolute without being rash. Is that John McCain or Barack Obama? You decided.

This is Richard Exley straight from the heart.

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Category: Politics