My informal poll of several NLT contributors (see below) and other conservative friends produced an expected McCain edged Obama reaction, with a couple outliers who said McCain stank. I disagree with the consensus that Obama’s survival in a foreign policy debate means he really won. Consider the 2000 Republican primaries, when Alan Keyes clearly dominated the debates he participated in. But he didn’t get many votes. Of course here we are down to two choices, but being the best debater doesn’t necessarily mean he is more trusted to be commander-in-chief. Let’s see what the presidential preference, not the who-won-the-debate polls say.
By the way, the Obama-Keyes senatorial debate back in 2004 shook Obama, even causing him to poke Keyes in the chest once, to make a point. See pp. 248-250 in Audacity of Hope, e.g.: "I found him getting under my skin in a way few people ever have." It was Keyes’ uncompromising (and inappropriately utilized, I would say) Christianity that Obama found unbearable, and which he could answer only by responding with a pluralism demanded by a wall of separation between faith and reason (259). Obama would have to reject theological notions of natural law, even as he wants the many of the results of the Declaration of Independence, our founding, natural law document. Obama’s attempt to find himself a home in American political life gives evidence of his alienation from it, a theme I will take up in a later post.