The one lasting thing that may come out of the Saddleback interviews (besides a noun, n. saddleback, an interview of little substance where easy questions are delivered in a non-confrontational manner, example, "I thought my performance review would be difficult but it was a saddleback") is some renewed interest in just how extreme Obama's views on abortion really are, and that's a good thing for John McCain. The glee from Republican observers has been pretty palpable; their boy did well, and to a certain extent they can be forgiven for thinking that he "won" the Saddleback event.
This, however, overlooks three things:
First, McCain only won to the extent that Obama lost. If you're expected to win a bronze medal but end up with the gold because your opponent fell off the balance beam, it's not all that solid a win; getting cocky about it at this point would be highly premature.
Second, straining the Olympic metaphor past the breaking point, they haven't had the floor exercises yet. Conventions are just around the corner, and while behind the scenes the Democratic National Convention may be a study in green, the "historic" elements will be played up for the consumption of the average viewer to the point that the very nomination of Barack Obama will sound like the blow that single-handedly shatters the shackles of racism in the twenty-first century. Compared to all of that, the RNC is going to seem like the sort of geezerfest you'd encounter if you accidentally wandered into a secret meeting at Fred Flinstone's lodge--unless, of course, the Republican vice presidential nomination manages to steal the show.
Third, we really can't say that McCain "won" Saddleback; it wasn't a debate, and while McCain may have ended up looking better than Obama there was only one clear winner: Rick Warren. He'll probably get a new book out of the deal (suggested working title: The Purpose Driven Vote--Looking for God in American Politics).
Still, it's nice to see the Republicans smile for a moment. There haven't been this many long dreary pre-election faces on the Republican side of things since the Year of Bob Dole.