Monday, August 18, 2008

McCain On His 'Greatest Moral Failure'

Many bloggers have written about the Saddleback Civil Forum, which took place last Saturday, in which both Barack Obama and John McCain were interviewed by Rev. Rick Warren. Thought there is much I could comment on concerning this event, starting with questioning the appropriateness of even questioning the candidates about their religious beliefs at all, I'll confine my remarks in this entry to one question Warren put to both cadidates.

*What was your greatest moral failure?

Obama: Well, in my own life, I'd break it up into two stages. I had a difficult youth. My father wasn't in the house. I've written about this. There were times when I experimented with drugs. I drank, you know, in my teenage years, and I traced this to a certain selfish necessary on my part. I was so obsessed with me and the reasons that I might be dissatisfied that I couldn't focus on other people. The process for me of growing up was to recognise that it's not about me.

McCain: My greatest moral failing – and I have been a very imperfect person – is the failure of my first marriage. It's my greatest moral failure. America's greatest moral failure has been, throughout our existence, perhaps, we have not devoted ourselves to causes greater than our self-interest, although we've been the best at it of anybody in the world.

I couldn't help but wonder if McCain's response was influenced by the recent news about John Edwards' marital infidelity, knowing that questions had inevitably followed about his own infidelity. Though there's no way to know, I'd be curious to know what his answer would have been to this question had this forum taken place a month ago.

I also have to wonder if this is actually how he feels, or whether this was a political move designed to head off those who might question him about this during the campaign and to make points with religious conservatives.

Personally, I think his thoughts and feelings about his first marriage are his own business that he shouldn't feel the need to share with the nation. It's nobody's business but those who were involved, and it puts the current Mrs McCain in an awkward position. It was something that he would have been better off leaving unsaid in a public forum.


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