The Crock Of Silence

Look, it's no shock that John McCain had been given a heads up about the questions he'd be asked by Rick Warren during Saturday night's forum at Saddleback church. The way McCain sort of stared into space pretending to really be thinking about his answers... please, he's not that good an actor. And sure enough yesterday on CNN Rick Warren admitted there was no cone of silence at all.

From Nate Silver:

Warren was just interviewed by CNN's Rick Sanchez, and apparently told him that McCain was not in the church during the first half-hour of Obama's segment. (I did not see the segment myself, nor does a transcript or video yet seem to be available). Sanchez has now suggested that Warren implied to him that he (Warren) thought McCain was in the "cone of silence" when he told the audience as much, but later learned that McCain was not.

Which was confirmed by McCain advisor Rick Davis in a diversionary tactic memo to NBC News complaining about biased reporting by Andrea Mitchell:

The fact is that during Senator Obama's segment at Saddleback last night, Senator McCain was in a motorcade to the event and then held in a green room with no broadcast feed.

Which is also now being reported by The New York Times.

The thing is, as Nate Silver points out, McCain's being in a motorcade and then in a green room hardly precludes him from having access to the questions, whether it be via cellphone, radio, close captioned TV feed, etc. But the McCain campaign would simply have us take John McCain at his word since, well, he doesn't like to talk about this much, but, you see...

"The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous," Ms. Wallace said.

This may be the most we're going to get out of camp McCain unless Rick Warren makes some news on Larry King tonight. But in the meantime, Tom Tomorrow catches William Kristol once again trying to remove foot from mouth in his column about the cone of silence.

Update [2008-8-18 11:28:2 by Todd Beeton]:More from Rachel Sklar at HuffPo:

The issue, of course, isn't whether or not he cheated, but whether he could have cheated. The cone of silence was meant to ensure that the second candidate had no possible advantage over the first. It is a time-honored tradition, from its coinage on TV show Get Smart to a reference on Everybody Loves Raymond to numerous game shows through history.

McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace, told the NYT that McCain had not heard the broadcast while in the motorcade, nor had he any of the questions. That neatly accounts for just one way McCain might have learned the content of the questions; the event was being broadcast live, and presumably his aides have Blackberries. Coaching could have taken place without McCain hearing anything directly from the broadcast at all.

This is not meant to make the claim that McCain received information relating to Warren's questions to Obama, just that he could have done, since the constraints of the cone of silence were not in effect. Those constraints were pointedly put in place by Pastor Warren to provide an excplicit safeguard of fairness, and it was reported to the audience as such. The fact that such a safeguard might not have been universally applied is a relevant fact...

Tags: 2008 Presidential election, cone of silence, John McCain, Rick Warren, saddleback church (all tags)

Comments

38 Comments

Re: The Crock Of Silence

Obama's people should drop this quickly. CNN will be replaying the Saddleback Politcal Forum often over the next week and this tempest in a teapot will draw attention to it.  Obviously, McCain did extremely well in this setting and does not help Obama by drawing attention to it.

by oliver99 2008-08-18 07:08AM | 0 recs
McCain has an honesty problem

this is a real easy narrative.

I hope obama's team doesn't miss it

by TarHeel 2008-08-18 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: The Crock Of Silence

disagree completely. the post debate spin defines who did well, not the soundbites from the debate. in fact what soundbites they use will come to be based on who wins the spin war.  if it is clear that mccain cheated, it hurts mccain's character and thus who won. it's really that simple.

by bruh3 2008-08-18 07:25AM | 0 recs
You can't trust the political evangelicals...

Rick Warren is one of them.  He cushions himself from criticism by taking on issues like poverty, the environment and AIDS, his agenda is really no different than those of Dobson and company:  Political influence.

The person best served by that forum {{{eye-roll}} was Rick Warren and that was the intended outcome.  He is now elevated to the political state by virtue of hosting this forum being blasted on television networks all over the world.

by cChalfonte 2008-08-18 07:28AM | 0 recs
Re: You can't trust the political evangelicals...

political state should be political stage

by cChalfonte 2008-08-18 07:29AM | 0 recs
XM and Sirius radio carried

the event on their CNN channel..

surprised all  the pundits are wondering about TV and Blackberries

by TarHeel 2008-08-18 07:13AM | 0 recs
Many in our political have suggested an outreach

to evangelicals for some time now.  Understandable, in that Democrats and Republicans end up fighting over a slim margin of votes every presidential election.  However, evangelicals, particular their political wing-their majority will always ultimately support the political party willing to cave the most to their demands.  That will always be the Republicans.

If we try a "move right", like Barack and funding for them....they'll always, always find a Republican candidate willing to MOVE MORE to the Right.

We need to cede this group to the Republicans and move on.

by cChalfonte 2008-08-18 07:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Many in our political have suggested an outrea

MANY IN OUR POLITICAL PARTY....sorry, multi-tasking

by cChalfonte 2008-08-18 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: The Crock Of Silence

We may know this (just as we know that the "cross in the dust" story was plagiarized from The Gulag Archipelago), but how do we pressure the Corporate Media to actually cover a story that shows McCain in a bad light in the way that, say, they rush to cover slanders by Jerome Corsi or insinuations that Obama is "uppity" "arrogant"...?

by JDWalley 2008-08-18 07:14AM | 0 recs
build a bigger narrative about honesty

1. pittsburgh steelers/packers story

2.  ABBA  story

3. cheating on first wife

4. keating 5

5.  cross in the sand..

the guy clearly has no problem with being dishonest

by TarHeel 2008-08-18 07:22AM | 0 recs
Actually...the bigger narrative about this

Religious Forum is right here:

Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, president of Interfaith Alliance and a frequent critic of the role of faith in politics today, praised Warren, but said:

   "Some of the questions Pastor Warren posed crossed the line and promoted the fiction that the American people are electing a pastor-in-chief, rather than a commander-in-chief. Questions like 'What does it mean to trust in Christ?' create a religious test for public office and should have no place in the political discourse for a secular office. America is the most religiously diverse country in the world, and Christianity is only one of those faith traditions. Millions of voters who tuned in tonight will feel disenfranchised by some of the questions posed in this forum. And both the candidates deserve criticism for engaging in a competition to be 'holier than thou.' The American people want real solutions for real issues. Discussing the personal theology of the candidates does little to elucidate those solutions."

by cChalfonte 2008-08-18 07:38AM | 0 recs
We know that Barack Obama's agenda in

participating in Rick Warren's forum was to reach out to the broader religious community.  This was a wise choice and the polling indicates that Obama is polling very well among that group.

by cChalfonte 2008-08-18 07:35AM | 0 recs
Re: We know that Barack Obama's agenda in

Honey, They ain't gonna vote for Obama.  I know these people...They may think he is "nicer" than Clinton, but if he won't support anti-choice and no stem cells and no birth control, they will not vote for him.  That is why I have always felt Obama trying to play footsie with these people was a fool's errand...especially since he hasn't sealed the deal with his own base.  

But clearly, he feels like we will fall in line (?) and that he can get these voters.  I think he is dead wrong.

by emmasaint 2008-08-18 08:22AM | 0 recs
Hi "honey".....lol;)))

I don't believe that evangelicals with a political agenda (which is the majority of evangelicals) will voe for Obama, either...not for one minute.  Also, unlike some in our Party, including Governor Dean, I DO NOT believe we should be reaching out to political evangelicals (Rick Warren is but one).

However, the broader religious community includes folks who are believers (maybe in christ, buddha, judaism, catholics, etc.) who still separate their religion from politics..this is actually the mainstream.

It is perfectly legitimate for Obama to reach out to those--he has and the polls indicate that it's paying off.

by cChalfonte 2008-08-18 08:30AM | 0 recs
emmasainte

I agree with you 100% about this.
You say:  "They may think he is "nicer" than Clinton, but if he won't support anti-choice and no stem cells and no birth control, they will not vote for him."

Yep, we're never going to win the votes of the political evangelicals.  Their goal is political influence in order to control the agenda on these issues:  anti-choice and stem cells gay marriage.

by cChalfonte 2008-08-18 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: The Crock Of Silence

Mountains out of a molehill.

Who watched this thing?   Really only the hardcore types.   It was on over the weekend, opposite the Olympics.  Lets all breath easy.

McCain did pretty well.  Better than Obama maybe.   Obama didn't do badly.

Obama does have to ditch all that hemming and hawing that he does however.

I think McCain will do poorly against Obama in the debates.  Obama got better in the debates as they went along.  The long process actually helped him there.  He got a lot of practice.  McCain ... not so much.

by RichardFlatts 2008-08-18 07:25AM | 0 recs
and there are many religious authorities
who actually support the separation of church and state: The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, who is now a senior fellow at Georgetown's Woodstock Theological Center, sent out an e-mail yesterday wondering what would happen if a Catholic figure attempted such a feat. "Before the forum takes place, let me say how weird the whole event appears to me as a Catholic priest. First, my understanding is that the forum will take place in the sanctuary of the Saddleback Church. I think that is inappropriate. A church hall would be OK but not the sanctuary which should be reserved for worship service. This is not a question of separation of church and state--I leave that to the constitutional lawyers. This is a question of what is religiously appropriate and inappropriate to do in churches. Catholics appear to have a very different standard than Evangelicals (both white and black). The Vatican is even opposed to holding concerts in churches. Second, imagine for a second that the forum was being sponsored by Cardinal Francis George of Chicago and was held in the sanctuary of his cathedral. The outcry would be defining. The public and the media appear more easily to accept political activity by Evangelical clergy than by Catholic clergy. Catholic clergy are held to a higher standard. For example, Pat Robertson and Jesse Jackson can run for president, but imagine what would happen if Cardinal George or Cardinal Egan ran for president. Don't get me wrong. I do not want Catholic cardinals or clergy publicly getting involved in partisan politics. I am happy that canon law and tradition restrict political activity by Catholic clergy. I just wonder if there is a double standard here."
by cChalfonte 2008-08-18 07:42AM | 0 recs
Re: and there are many religious authorities

Sorry, that is a quote from a Boston Globe article--still learning how to use the formatting here.

by cChalfonte 2008-08-18 07:46AM | 0 recs
A lie is a lie

He didn't need the questions beforehand, a 5 year old could have guess with Warren was going to ask.  But he lied about the cone of silence, as he has lied so many other times and that does matter.  

by Do Something 2008-08-18 10:57AM | 0 recs
Re: The Crock Of Silence

Oh Good lord.  So what if he heard the questions 30 minutes beforehand.  This is such a non-story.  You guys are worried and peddling this kind of trash because you know McCain came off much better than Obama last night.  

by karajan72 2008-08-18 07:27AM | 0 recs
A Presidential candidate cheating

on a debate, and lying to a pastor about it? How would that NOT be front-page news? All wannabe Bernsteins should be chasing it.

In fact, what's eerie is how many people are trying to play it down. I can understand if you don't think he cheated, but there seems to be a significant number who think he cheated and don't care.

by Neef 2008-08-18 07:38AM | 0 recs
Re: A Presidential candidate cheating

Nobody cares if McCain got the questions ahead of time anymore than they cared that Bush wore a wire in his debate with Kerry.  No one cares.  But the story is that old crankypants came off looking so good next to Prince Charming.  You can spin all you want, but this is really bad news.  Obama should never have volunteered to go into this lion's den.  But his ego compelled him.  This guy is so dangerously flawed.

by emmasaint 2008-08-18 08:25AM | 0 recs
Re: A Presidential candidate cheating

Is that you PUMA?

by royce 2008-08-18 09:05AM | 0 recs
What's dangerously flawed

is your lack of even a hint of outrage at Republican shenanigans like this. You, and people like you, are enabling the same tired, dishonest tactics from the GOP. Who cares how good you come off when you cheat? What sort of standard is that for a Democrat, any Democrat, to have to meet?

Hey, let's just add a couple million votes to the GOP totals in November. I'm sure you'll find some reason to overlook that, and blame it on our party.

by Neef 2008-08-18 12:29PM | 0 recs
Exactly

Guys, leave McSAme alone, he's really, really, old.  He needs a half hour head start just take a dump, let alone hear a question.

by Al Rodgers 2008-08-18 08:14AM | 0 recs
Re: The Crock Of Silence

I love how the fact that he was a POW now means that McCain has never done a dishonest thing in his life (except for his failed marriage, Keating Five scandal, etc.).  I wonder if he used that line in his divorce proceedings.

by rfahey22 2008-08-18 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: The Crock Of Silence

If Obama had that question about who is 3 advisers were going to be prior to the forum Like Allen of politico is reporting and he still answered the way he did then I think there is a problem somewhere.

This just seems petty to me.

by lori 2008-08-18 07:39AM | 0 recs
so why is McSame hysterical

the andrea Mitchell letter is hysterical with emotion.

and now the george-washington-cherry-tree response saying McSame would never cheat cuz he was a POW is beyond pathetic.

by Al Rodgers 2008-08-18 08:03AM | 0 recs
Do you have a link

to the Allen piece you refer to?  Google is failing me.

by JJE 2008-08-18 08:11AM | 0 recs
here ya go

http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0 808/Much_ado.html#comments

basically it's rove using the pool-boy(allen) to say, "okay, we cheated, but they did it too")

by Al Rodgers 2008-08-18 08:18AM | 0 recs
thanks

yeah.  Clear spin.

by JJE 2008-08-18 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: The Crock Of Silence

I think the one question he had a heads up on was the "3 people you admire"-- because he sure nailed that one (he gave stupid answers but in an assured way)--

Also note he doesn't admire his wife much does he?

by Bob Beard 2008-08-18 07:56AM | 0 recs
Re: The Crock Of Silence

I watched it and think Obama did really well. I didn't think his pausing seemed bad. He seemed thoughtful and when he spoke he was clearly articulate and passionate. I hated how McCain used "my friends" over and over and addressed the audience rather than Warren. I do think it was a solid performance for McCain but the substance of what he said was horrible. The audience was in his pocket and that clearly gave him a boost. If they had clapped half as enthusiastically people wouldn't think he did that good of job. To use McCain's favorite word, it was "psychological."

I think Team Obama should be sending out press releases highlighting McCain's lack of integrity. It doesn't matter if he was prepped or not, he did not follow the rules as set up. I think people should pressure Rick Warren to apologize to Obama tonight on Larry King.

by Lolis 2008-08-18 08:13AM | 0 recs
Re: The Crock Of Silence

The issue isn't whether he heard the questions from advisors or purposefully sought them out by plan, but the fact that he publicly played along with the impression that he didn't have any insight to the questions.  He started off referencing the fact that he was in a cone of silence, and then stated that he hoped the questions weren't going to get too hard.  Later he asked if they were going to get to Supreme Court Justices.  If he had really heard all of these then he was intentionally pushing a false story.

I expect to see a montage on The Daily Show tonight of his answers to these questions that show that he played along disingenuously.

by jbsloan 2008-08-18 08:10AM | 0 recs
So McCain is ancient and senile,

 but at the same time he is able to not only remember the questions that he heard less than an hour ago, and prepare and remember his responses to them? Warren told Rick Sanchez that both candidates were given a list of possible topics ahead of time, but not specific questions. The Obama campaign might be better off trying to figure out how to improve his performance in future forums, instead of looking for excuses for why he didn't do better in this one.

by georgiapeach 2008-08-18 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: The Crock Of Silence

um, for those who don't get the reference, the "cone of silence" doesn't actually work.

by truth hurts 2008-08-18 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: The Crock Of Silence

"Green Room"? "Cone of Silence"? Where are these facilities located Rev. Warren?

In the Saddleback church somewhere? Where is it that McCain put his ear up against the wall trying to hear?

The Rev. needs to be a little more forthcoming about this.

by Hempy 2008-08-18 05:37PM | 0 recs
Abortion

Obama should have said Life begins at conception---however ---women deciding to have abortion---is a desperate decision that they shouldnt have to make and get to be criminally punished later.

Why not -- focus on decreasing rates of teen age pregnancy, economic issues, education,pre-natal care, etc to drive the rates of abortion down by solving unwanted pregnancy.  We need the help of religious groups too --- especially educating the moral aspects.

Clinton was able to decrease the rates of abortion but Bush was not.

by jasmine 2008-08-19 03:17AM | 0 recs

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