This, for me, was one of the most telling moments of the “debate” last night at Saddleback Church. Reuters described it this way:
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama side-stepped a pointed query about abortion on Saturday by “mega-pastor” Rick Warren during a televised forum.
Asked at what point a baby gets “human rights,” Obama, who strongly supports abortion rights, said: “… whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity … is above my pay grade.”
He went on to reiterate his view that it was important to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who followed Obama onto the stage of the nationally televised event, was more blunt and more emphatic.
He said a baby’s human rights began “at the moment of conception … I have a 25-year pro-life record.”.
Above his pay grade?
For me, this is one of the biggest moments of the campaign. And what’s more surprising is that, at least in early articles, the media is pointing out his dodge. As a presidential candidate you don’t get to say “above my pay grade.” The Buck stops at your desk. Obama’s answer was weak and McCain came off looking quite strong last night. More on this later…
CBN’s David Brody interviewed Obama immediately after the Saddleback forum and this interesting exchange occured where Obama accused the National Right to Life Committee of lying in no uncertain terms. Here’s the exchange via Red State:
Brody: Real quick, the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. I gotta tell you that’s the one thing I get a lot of emails about and it’s just not just from Evangelicals, it about Catholics, Protestants, main — they’re trying to understand it because there was some literature put out by the National Right to Life Committee. And they’re basically saying they felt like you misrepresented your position on that bill.
Obama: Let me clarify this right now.
Brody: Because it’s getting a lot of play.
Obama: Well and because they have not been telling the truth. And I hate to say that people are lying, but here’s a situation where folks are lying. I have said repeatedly that I would have been completely in, fully in support of the federal bill that everybody supported – which was to say –that you should provide assistance to any infant that was born – even if it was as a consequence of an induced abortion. That was not the bill that was presented at the state level. What that bill also was doing was trying to undermine Roe vs. Wade. By the way, we also had a bill, a law already in place in Illinois that insured life saving treatment was given to infants.
That’s a gutsy move by Obama, especially because he is lying. It is also a very dumb move by Obama because this could start a war of words between the NRLC and Obama. And the exchange might just be enough to make the media interested in the matter, putting this issue on the news -exactly where Obama doesn’t want it to be.