# Rick Warren

Homework assignment for holiday parties and reunions

As Barack Obama assembles his cabinet and key White House advisers, he’s choosing a lot more people from the “centrist” or corporate-friendly wing of the Democratic Party than movement progressives. He is leaving George Bush’s Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, in place. He has also made some symbolic moves that angered a lot of progressives, in particular selecting Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration.

I understand the political arguments in favor of Obama’s strategy, and opinion polls support some of them. When asked whether they approve of Obama or how he is handling the transition (different pollsters ask the question differently), anywhere from 65 percent to 75 percent of Americans are saying they approve.

I’ve been wondering how much Obama’s conciliatory gestures have been helping him with Republicans and conservatives of the wingnut variety. I’m not talking about Jim Leach Republicans, I’m talking about the kind of person who really believed Obama was a “socialist.”

For example, one of my friends told me last month that her mother’s best friend believes changing the American flag will be “the first order of business” when Obama takes office. I am not kidding.

In the next ten days, many of us will attend holiday parties and family reunions. I don’t recommend that you bring up politics at these events if that would make people uncomfortable. However, if you come from a family where politics are often discussed when folks get together, I would like to hear from you.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out whether your conservative friends and relatives have abandoned some of their more paranoid beliefs about Obama since he was elected. In other words, how well have Obama’s conciliatory gestures allayed conservative fears about his intentions? Is he likely to get more of a honeymoon than Bill Clinton did in 1993?

Feel free to post your own diary or a comment in this thread.

Obama taps Rick Warren to give prayer at inauguration

I wonder whether Barack Obama will ever make a gesture to the millions of liberal Democrats who helped him win the nomination and general election. Now he’s chosen Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration. Having Warren there will just reinforce the stereotype that top religious leaders are conservative on social issues.

Picking a respected and inclusive minister on the “religious left” would better represent “change we can believe in.”

I understand that Obama will be the president of all Americans, but it seems like he is going out of his way to associate himself only with centrists and conservatives.

Does he think that having Rick Warren there will inspire the right wing to give him a honeymoon? They will try to destroy his presidency from day one no matter what.

By choosing an outspoken supporter of California’s constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, Obama is also insulting the millions of gays and lesbians who voted for him in large numbers.

I can’t say I am surprised, given Obama’s willingness to schedule a campaign event with gospel singer Donnie McClurkin last year in order to make political gains among black voters in South Carolina. Don’t expect him to be there for any Democratic constituency if he can benefit politically from turning his back on them.

UPDATE: Todd Beeton and I are on the same wavelength:

The thing is, there’s no shortage of progressive Christian pastors, ministers and priests who opposed Proposition 8 and are no less Christian than Rick Warren. Sure Warren may be better known, may have sold a whole lot of books and brings with him the added bonus of sending a dog whistle signal to Christian conservatives that he’s their president too, but what about sending a signal to the LGBT community and broader progressive community who, ya know, actually supported him and worked our ass off for him? Reinforcing the false notion that the only real Christians are conservative Christians is NOT change I can believe in at all.

Beeton also has the video of Warren endorsing California’s Proposition 8.

Look, I understand why Obama quietly opposed Proposition 8 without doing anything to defeat it. I’m sure he worried that speaking out against banning gay marriage in California would hurt him in a lot of other states. But the election’s over now, and he won. He should not give Rick Warren the honor of delivering the invocation at the inauguration.

SECOND UPDATE: This is a hot topic on many of the blogs, with some people mocking the outrage over Warren.

I wouldn’t say this is the most important thing in the world. If Obama’s other appointments had suggested that he would have lots of progressives in his inner circle, probably many people would be more willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Anyway, this diary by Clarknt67 does a good job explaining why Warren matters to a lot of people:

And let’s also be clear, Obama is not “engaging” the far-right. This is not an “engagement;” it is a great honor. He’s giving Rick Warren a grand platform and an international audience. He is endorsing Rick Warren, and make no mistake, Warren’s particular flavor of Christianity with all the legitimacy and prestige of the office of the President of the United States.

In fairness I should note that Obama has also giving Reverend Joseph Lowery a role at the inaugural:

Lost in all the uproar over Warren’s presence is the presence of another preacher at the inaugural: Joseph Lowery, the fellow who will give the closing benediction — and who, in addition to being a civil-rights hero on the order of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself, is also a friend to the GLBT community.

Click that link to read more about Lowery.

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