My two cents: we can safely say Obama lost tonight in the Saddleback Church forum with Rev. Rick Warren. Obama was wise to be humble in such adversarial suroundings but he was circumspect in an almost Kerryesque way whereas McCain was confident, terse and decisive -- he came off as, dare I say it, a strong leader. Late in the program, Warren asked Obama not to reply with his stump speech but that's precisely what McCain did for virtually every answer, and it worked.
So McCain won handily -- at least with the conservative base, which is largely simplistic and reactionary and responds best to reductive pronouncements. Luckily for Obama, McCain also gave a wake-up call to left-leaning independents and the Clinton sore losers that he stands in direct opposition to most of their values. But Obama has got to learn how to represent or the upcoming formal debates are going to be a disaster.
And one more thing: At one point, Obama listed some examples of evil, lumping together child abuse, Darfur, and... "the streets of our cities." Oh yeah, Barry? What about all the evil that goes down in the so-called American heartland? You know, where all those evangelicals live? What about all those serial murderers and crystal meth dealers and family imprisoners and hanging judges and abortion clinic bombers and child rapists and homicidal, rifle-toting disgruntled employees and Klansmen and other diabolical rural citizens? The streets of our cities are no more evil than the streets of Jonesboro, and they're not a patch on Darfur.
As someone who daily witnesses a tiny fraction of the myriad acts of civility required for my great city to function, I resented that comment very deeply. Obama knowingly and cynically pandered to his audience's vicious and ignorant prejudices while delivering a rude slap to his own base — which is largely people who live in those evil, evil cities. Senator Obama, do not defecate where you masticate.