The only news that actually happened during that unprecedented Saturday debate at the Saddleback Church is that John McCain spent the Obama-questioning portion of the evening in his bus instead of the "cone of silence." Then, when Andrea Mitchell mentioned this on TV the next morning, his campaign sent out one of those furious letters that NBC News head Steve Corpus keeps getting from various outraged candidates. Of course the story was confirmed by CNN and Rick Warren and Kit Seelye but no matter. The entire debate was already a pointless exercise with a predetermined winner, designed to help McCain appeal to the wary nut vote and make Obama look good just for showing up. What's funny about this "debate" before cartoonish Stuart Smalley-esque touchy-feely evangelical megachurch pastor Rick Warren and his million followers is that we know Obama's gone to church every week for years and the closest we've seen McCain to worshiping Yahweh is when that North Vietnamese prison guard he borrowed from the Solzhenitsyn anecdote scratched that cross in the sand. (Amusingly, this plagiarism was first noted by the right-wingers of Free Republic back when Conservatives hated McCain for being a MAVERICK.) But what matters, obviously, is not actual religion conviction-or even the facade of conviction that actual church-attendance lends-but kowtowing to morons. McCain, who first bit his tongue to appeal to his party's idiots about five years ago and has not yet let up on it since, won the debate by proudly announcing that he has the moral authority to recognize and personally wipe out evil in all its forms, while Obama foolishly went for the "humble and meek" vote. The pundits will probably call it his "complexity" problem but he actually erred in sounding like a real Christian. McCain, not even sure which denomination he is supposed to pretend to be, only had to assuage these politically exhausted evangelicals that, like Republican presidents before him, he would ban abortion forever and shut down the ACLU and make it a crime for newsreaders to not wear flag pins. And, while everyone rightly says Obama "lost" the debate, it also happened on a Saturday night during the damn Olympics, and as we already said, just showing up for the photo-op was more or less the entire point of his attendance. Hooray for Michael Phelps! Click to view
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