Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Final Rick Warren Post... I Hope

Bob Cesca's blog has been all Rick Warren all week. It's been an interesting debate with, unfortunately, no resolution. No one's budged on their stance and it's one of those issues where it looks like they're going to have to agree to disagree (but that's not happening either). So it's been a long week for Cescans¹ and the GDAB². Here's my take on it for (hopefully) the last time. This was a comment I wrote on Armadillo Joe's blog, but I thought I'd post it here as well (with a few grammatical changes for cohesion and slight elaboration on thoughts).

I understand the frustration with the Warren crap, but ultimately will it matter? Obama chose Warren to give an invocation, not to become his new Senior Policy Advisor. I know it seems like a slap in the face to liberals, progressives, pro-choice advocates and the LGBT community now, but who's really gonna give a shit a month from now? That's how I'm looking at it. Obama is not all of a sudden going to become pro-life.

This is why I disagree with Glenn Greenwald's quote in Armadillo Joe's post:


Armadillo Joe: Righties think god is on their side and the devil is in any opposition. In such a formulation, how can we ever find the middle? We can't because there isn't one. As Glenn Greenwald wrote yesterday:
Ultimately, the reason politics is unavoidably "divisive" is because people have really divergent and irreconcilable views on passion-provoking controversies. That's what politics is. It's what it always has been. At some point, Obama either will or won't repeal DOMA and don't-ask-don't-tell; he either will or won't rescind Bush's anti-abortion regulations and appoint new Supreme Court Justices likely to re-affirm Roe; he either will or won't close Gitmo; he either will or won't withdraw from Iraq; he either will or won't investigate Bush war crimes; he either will or won't deliver on his promises to unions, etc. People feel very strongly -- and very differently -- about those issues.

I disagree because I believe Obama's decision to include Warren in his inauguration for a three minute prayer (something that shouldn't be a part of the ceremony to begin with, IMHO) isn't going to change his mind on pro-choice, or closing Gitmo, or troop withdrawal from Iraq, or suddenly make him think conservative judges are what we need in the Supreme Court.

Sure, I'm disappointed that he chose Warren for all the same reasons everyone else is, but I don't find the invocation so important that I believe it's the beginning of the end for the Obama administration. Unemployment, health care, getting out of the Middle East, vets care, the economy - these are the things that are important to me, not who says what prayer when.

Which is why I don't agree with Christopher Hitchens either.

Hitchens: A president may by all means use his office to gain re-election, to shore up his existing base, or to attract a new one. But the day of his inauguration is not one of the days on which he should be doing that. It is an event that belongs principally to the voters and to their descendants, who are called to see that a long tradition of peaceful transition is cheerfully upheld, even in those years when the outcome is disputed.
So according to Hitchens, yes, Obama can be inclusive - that's what he campaigned on, that he's the President of all Americans; that there are no red states or blues states, only the United States - but not on Inauguration Day! That's the day that Obama voters get to rub the losers' noses in it!

I say either Obama is going to believe what he says every day, or he's going to be politically maneuvering every day. I hope it's the former, but it has to be every day. Including Inauguration Day.

And finally, look at it another way. Warren's acceptance of the invitation is not sitting well with his base. I would say the evangelical right is freaking out about Warren's attendance as much if not more than the progressive left is. So, although I doubt this is the reason for the invite, an unintended consequence is that Warren's power and influence among his flock may possibly be compromised on Obama's first day in office. That can only be a good thing.


¹ - The Bob Cesca blog commenting community
² - Goddamn Awesome Blog

11 comments:

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Broadway Carl said...

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chris said...

I don't know, Carl. That free education at Stanford looks mighty tempting...

cminri said...

I agree with chris...and im also down with the MONEY! Seriously though, the bottom line to me is simply that there shouldnt even ben an invocation at the inauguration. Isnt that a separation of church and state thing? and Carl - I am noticing how much we think alike. You say things I just thought or said. (this should frighten you, because my mind works in mysterious ways!)

chris said...

And I agree with cm. I never understood why there was an invocation but if they feel the need to have one, why couldn't it be someone who has less baggage? John Danforth would have made the point as well as Warren with a whole lot less controversy.
I'm to the point where I want to slap people - tell them to sit down & STFU.

[And, god help me, I attempted to reason with Travis. Kill. Me. Now. I can't be trusted near a keyboard any longer.]

cminri said...

now chris..you know that the words "reason" and "travis" are mutually exclusive and should not be used in the same sentence~

chris said...

I was trying that inclusion thing. I'm not impressed.

Broadway Carl said...

Apparently the invocation and benediction thing didn't come around until FDR. I'll double check that and get back to you.

Broadway Carl said...

The real problem isn't with who will give the invocation, but rather, the fact that there's going to be an invocation in the first place. We had 144 years of presidential inaugurations, dating back to George Washington, in which there was no invocation and no benediction.

Steve Benen

Armadillo Hussein Joe said...

FDR added both the invocation and the benediction in 1933. I think it was wrong then and it is wrong now, apart from the Warren kerfuffle, you know - church and state and separation thereof.

But, without getting too much into it, I think it is the wrong way to telegraph "inclusiveness." Warren is a hater and a bigot. I think telling a major component of the Liberal and Progressive coalition who put Obama into office to "get over" the Presidential Seal of Approval echoes the Village poobahs telling the progressive coalition to "get over" Florida 2000. "Get over it and fall in line" is something the Republicans do.

Warren was a major player in the passage of Prop H8. As such, he is the national face and voice for the last socially acceptable vestige of outright naked bigotry and his inclusion in Obama's inaugural program lends him the weight and power of the Office of the President in a way that is an insult to a coalition Obama co-opted on his way to the White House. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve our support, but since he clinched the nomination we've spent more time hoping he'll show us (The Liberals and Progressives) some respect than actually getting any.

Yes, Obama's a centrist and as such he's going to disappoint me more than make me overjoyed. I knew that going in. But Rick Warren and the "kinder, gentler" wingnuttiness he represents is a bridge too far. Being nice to the evangelical right never gets you anything but burned. Obama would be wise to heed Aesop's Fable of the scorpion and the frog.

But then Obama's wise and savvy and I'm just a lowly blogger.

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