19 December, 2008

Pastor Warren Earns Obama a Trip to the Woodshed

By now, you've probably all heard, ad nauseum, about Obama picking homophobic, anti-choice, pro-assassination, science dissing, neocon-in-moderate's-clothing total fucking dickweed Pastor Rick Warren to give his inaugural invocation. No one's happy about it, not even the religious right zealots:

In an interesting twist, plenty of conservatives are mad, not at Obama for inviting Warren, but at Warren for accepting the invitation.

David Brody, a correspondent for TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, reported today that he's been "flooded with emails and most of them absolutely rip Pastor Warren for doing this."

Brody doesn't seem to share their concerns -- he asks, "Why can't a pro-life pastor pray for a pro-choice candidate?" -- but he republished a variety of the angry emails.


"I have had about all I can stand of Rick Warren's double standards. WHOSE side is he really on anyway? I'm beginning to think all he cares about are his questionable political connections. When I saw your article announcing his participation in "that one's" so called inauguration ceremony it absolutely sickened me. It isn't enough Obama is so full of himself that he "thinks" he's God. - Apparently now Rick Warren believes he is too. This is a complete mockery of all things sacred."

We can now expect the inevitable onslaught of reports indicating that "extremists on both sides" have expressed concerns about Warren's role at the inauguration.

Obama tried to calm the waters with noises about opposing viewpoints and suchlike, but Steve Benen doesn't find that argument persuasive:

Consider it this way: imagine the Obama White House were to host an inter-faith dialog on the great moral issues of the day. President Obama and his team want a lively discussion with a variety of competing ideas, and invite a wide variety of pastors, including Warren, to participate. There may be some who would say this is wrong -- that Warren's conservative believes should necessarily disqualify him from being invited to the White House. If, under those circumstances, Obama responded by saying, "There are going to be a wide range of viewpoints that are presented -- and that how it should be, because that's what America's about," I would agree without hesitation.

But that's not what we're talking about here. There's only going to be one invocation at Obama's inauguration, and it will be delivered be a conservative who strongly disagrees with Obama on gay rights, reproductive rights, foreign policy, and modern science. I'm a huge fan of diversity of thought, and if Obama and Warren want to have a spirited dialog, I'd no doubt find it fascinating. But this is obviously different.

Steve also points out the great many pitfalls inherent in such a move. I'd just like to add that, while Obama tried to bookend Warren with a more liberal pastor, but that doesn't change the fact that's it's a supremely bad idea in the first fucking place.

And Obama supporters aren't being shy about expressing their displeasure:

At the Huffington Post, Peter Daou noticed that Obama supporters are expressing their anger at the Change.gov website.

So I dropped in at Change.gov. It's getting ugly.

Here's a recent post from somebody named Jacinto Hernandez:

Mr Obama,

I am writing to ask that you return the campaign donations made by myself, Jacinto Hernandez, and my husband, Charles Callahan, to your campaign. Chet and I were passionate supporters-- Chet volunteered for weeks at a local phone bank. We attended numerous rallies and fundraisers-- including one with your wife, Michelle (see attached picture) That fund raiser was ostensibly held to court support with the gay community. At that fundraiser, Michelle held my my baby and promised to "not forget us." Yet you have. We worked tirelessly for your campaign-- replacing our yard sign when it was vandalized. So why would you betray the gay community- that stood by you-- and ask Rick Warren to lead your inauguration, when his anti gay rhetoric is dangerous to our family. He also was a huge proponent of proposition 8, that has endangered our family and has eliminated the civil rights of thousands of Californians.


Please remove us from your mailing lists and never ask us for your support again, unless you stand with us and reject homophobia once and for all.

Way to alienate your base, there, Barack. Of course, you may not have realized just how anti-gay Warren is - he did, after all, serve teh gays some water and donuts once.

I'm not as outraged as some - I see this as a spectacular advertisement for the necessity of keeping religion out of politics, and keeping church and state separate, which is all to the good. But I'm definitely miffed. Warren was a despicable choice. Here's hoping that he discovers a previously unrealized scheduling conflict, or, ahem, decides to spend more time with his family very, very soon.

Update: I ran across this on Daily Kos, and it very nearly cracked me up. The diarist emailed his deeply conservative auntie, and this delightful little exchange ensued:

What do you think of people who are mad that Obama asked Warren to speak?

Interestingly, she didn't understand that I was asking what she thought about progressives' anger:

I'm sure there will be plenty of people at my church who are mad, and I will bring this up at Bible Study on Friday and let you know what they say (and I am sure it won't be good). Like I said, people were mad when Warren had Obama speak at his church. But this just shows me we are wrong to be that way. How can we solve anything if we can't listen to each other?

My favorite line was her last:

Anyway, it's just a prayer. It's not like he's agreeing with everything Obama says. We'll get over it.



Woozle said...

I'm still hoping that Obama's playing a larger game here. Remember, he's not as simple-minded as his predecessor (the one we're currently shoeing out of office). I want to see what he says after Pastor Reek is done speaking; that should at least be a signal as to whether this is part of a plan or just pandering.

Woozle said...

Ok... saw a related blog entry, had to comment further -- arguing in favor of the Warren thing, even though it leaves a bad taste in my mouth too:

1. Obama has circulated talking points to his staff emphasizing that he disagrees with Warren (hat tip)

2. You know how the Religious Right is always claiming (mainly to their ever-gullible followers) that Christians are a persecuted minority, that the liberals have taken everything over now and conservatives dare not speak "the truth", that Obama is a Muslim and will help suppress righteous Christian ideas, et cetera ad frickin' nauseam? This will be a very public display of how liberals do things: we can disagree with you, vehemently, but we will always let you speak.

3. The evangelicals are upset about this (had a link - can't find it - ack!), arguing that Warren is compromising his morals (ha!). If the evangelicals are upset, Obama must be doing something right? Perhaps they fear item #2: he is calling their bluff, in a very big way.


Overall, the impression I get is not of someone unknowingly (or even complicitly) inviting the devil to dinner, but carefully and methodically opening channels of communication with a force which will only become more hostile the more we ignore it.

I hope that impression is right; it sure as hell would be the diametric opposite of what we've become used to for the past 8 years -- and possibly on a level of depth beyond anything we've seen in politics within my memory.

Dana Hunter said...

I know Obama's playing a longer game. I'm just of the opinion that this particular ball could end up exploding in his face. Sigh. Ah, well, hopefully Rev. Lowery will give such a stirring benediction at the end that Rick Warren will end up looking like a big fat lame ol' loser.

Hmm. Wonder if that's actually where this is headed... ;-P

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

OK - Warren is an ass munch. But as disgusting as this may sound, he is only articulating the views of millions of evangelicals. If Obama is ever going to include these people in building a genuine and durable consensus, he is going to have to open doors. And how refreshing it is to see a president with the courage to make decisions on something other than blind ideology.

Woozle said...

P.S. D'oh, the link about Religious Righteous objections to Warren was in your actual post... [facepalms]

P.P.S. And yeah, Obama is taking a risk here.

P.P.P.S. On further thought: Warren can (a) stay neutral and not say anything much, (b) say negative stuff (e.g. repeating the claim that Prop. 8 goes against freedom of speech), and/or (c) say positive stuff.

In the event of either (b) or (c), we have a win, because Obama can then go on to refute the faulty facts and logic behind (b), and Warren's evangelical followers will listen to him saying (c) where they might not have listened to Obama saying it.

Option (a) would be the most likely to result in liberal backlash, but I also don't see what Warren would get from it -- so it seems less likely.

Mike at The Big Stick said...

It seems that the only objection to Waren we are hearing from the Left is on the gay issue. I'm kind of surprised because I thought they would realize that he and Obama were fairly close on that one and I also thought they would well more on abortion.

If Obama wants evangelicals he has to throw them some socially conservative meat and for him, gays are an easy choice because they are waaaaay down his priority list.

Woozle said...

Mike, on what basis do you say that Obama and Warren are fairly close on the gay issue? I thought we had pretty much established that they are not.

(And: "...also thought they would well more on abortion." QRM Interblogatory, signal not coming through; please repeat...)

If gay rights are low on Obama's priority list, it's only because Bush and his followers have left Obama with so much more urgent crap to clean up. I believe Obama to be (unlike Bush) someone with principles, and not someone who would "throw gays under the bus" in pursuit of popularity or power.

That said, I would much rather have seen Obama take a firmer stand against anti-gay rhetoric; inviting Warren to the party without at least some kind of apology for his fact-abuse does cross a line, and the outrage against it is justified. I do hope the ends -- which must include forward progress for gay rights, or there's no excuse -- ultimately justify the means.

Obama is taking a risk, and I'm only waiting to see how the situation unfolds before condemning his decision because I recognize that he has access to far greater analytical resources than I, and therefore might possibly know better than I how to advance (what appear to be) our mutual goals.

But I don't blame anyone for criticizing his choice in this matter, and I may end up agreeing with them wholeheartedly.

(Have I babbled enough today? Maybe Dana needs to take away my keyboard before something unfortunate happens...)

Mike at The Big Stick said...

Woozle, Obama is on record as opposing gay marriage. What more evidence do you need?

Woozle said...

Mike, dude -- which record are you looking at?

"Barack Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions." (emphasis mine)

Woozle said...

Actually, discussion at the Change.gov forum has been less clear on this; the consensus appears to be that it's a reasonable compromise for now, as long as it's a step towards full gay marriage or getting government out of the marriage business altogether.

I agree with that consensus, and correspondingly find Obama's support for taking that step forward to be sufficient... for now.

In any case (to get back to the original point) you can't possibly equate Obama's position on this with Warren's. They are polar opposites; Warren wants to move us further away from equal rights.