Learning yesterday that McCain and Obama knew the first two questions in advance at the Saddleback Summit helps to understand what they said.
McCain’s answer to the first question certainly didn’t seem off the cuff. General Petraeus? Great choice. John Lewis? Since when has McCain talked about relying on John Lewis? Meg Whitman? Why her rather than other advisers? Knowing that McCain knew the question ahead of time supports the suspicion — OK, my suspicion — that he took pains to custom-tailor a perhaps-too-obviously diverse group of wise people.
And we know that Whitman is in McCain’s camp, but just what is McCain’s relationship to Lewis? From Jonathan Stein of Mother Jones:
But even though McCain has now repeatedly cited Lewis as a role model and potential adviser, McCain has not established a relationship with the Georgia Democrat in the 22 years they have served in Congress together. At the time of McCain’s Selma speech, a Lewis associate told my colleague David Corn that McCain has never been close to Lewis. Lewis was not told about McCain’s speech in Selma in advance, nor was he invited to attend.
In response to McCain’s latest invocation of his name, Rep. Lewis said in a statement requested by Mother Jones, “I cannot stop one human being, even a presidential candidate, from admiring the courage and sacrifice of peaceful protesters on the Edmund Pettus Bridge or making comments about it.” But, he added, “Sen. McCain and I are colleagues in the US Congress, not confidantes. He does not consult me. And I do not consult him.”
On the “moral failure” question, the fact that McCain knew it ahead of time suggests that he planned in advance to bring attention to the failure of his first marriage — and perhaps by doing so to deflect future attention from it.
On the other hand, knowing that Obama also knew the first two questions ahead of time just makes his lackluster answers — on the I-did-drugs-as-a-youth answer, did he really have no similarly grave failure as an adult? — even more lackluster.