It’s hard to bring people together. It’s hard to transcend partisanship.
Just ask Barack Obama.
Last week, he announced that Rick Warren would deliver the invocation at his Inaugural. Warren is, I believe, a very good choice. He is easily the most visible leader of the American Evangelical movement, which indicates that Obama — unlike so many Democrats and high-profile progressives — isn’t going to cast aside Evangelicals simply because they tend to vote Republican. Warren is also a relatively fresh face in the American political scene, and he might be a good replacement for the Left’s somewhat shopworn faith gurus like Tony Campolo and Jim Wallis. And unlike Campolo and Wallis, Warren is not a spontaneous apologist for the Democratic party.
But in the eyes of the Left, Warren epitomizes the worst kind of evil — “HATE” — because he supported California Proposition 8. I know, I know. It’s stunning that an ordained Baptist pastor could actually believe that only a man and a woman should partake of the Christian sacrament of marriage, or that he would further believe that the sacred barrier surrounding marriage should not be broken. To the horror of gay rights activists, Warren explained his beliefs by likening the barrier surrounding marriage to other important societal barriers that forbid things like incest and underage sexual relationships. And, God forbid, he also opposes abortion, and believes that supporters of unlimited reproductive rights might very well espouse some of the same evil — masquerading as good — that motivated the leaders of Nazi Germany. So he is a HATER and he OPPOSES CHOICE and he must be utterly ostracized by anyone who believes in tolerance.
Unbelievably, Barack Obama didn’t get that memo.
This whole episode reminded me of something that Cliff May wrote following the election:
Give Obama his due: It is an exceptional politician who can win the support of Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and Kenneth Duberstein, former chief of staff to President Reagan; of William Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist and Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, founder of modern conservatism; of Rashid Khalidi, an Israel-hater, and Edgar Bronfman, former head of the World Jewish Congress. Here’s a not-very-bold prediction: A year from now, someone is going to be sorely disappointed. (emphasis added)
Of course it didn’t take a year. The euphoria didn’t even last through the transition period. Obama has yet to be inaugurated, and he is already a “wanker,” “parading a homophobic bigot” and “sharing the national stage with hate.” Oh, and did I mention all of the “hawks and neocons” populating his Cabinet and major advisory posts?
Which reminds me of another observation that has been made repeatedly during the last 8 years: why are liberals so willing so sit down and talk with the likes of Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, yet so adverse to having a meaningful conversation with conservatives, especially religious conservatives?
As I said before, I believe that Obama made a good choice with Rick Warren. Warren knows what Obama is going through right now; he has long been a target of fundamentalists, who consider him to be a false prophet and a heretic. Warren himself took a lot of flak from other Evangelicals when he invited Barack Obama to speak at Saddleback Church two years ago.
It is encouraging to me that — so far — Barack Obama is at least willing to surround himself with people other than hard-left KoolAid drinkers. It remains unclear how much more of this that Barack Obama is willing to do, given the current overwhelmingly negative reaction of his “tolerant” base, and the terrible political price that George W. Bush paid for attempting to set a “New Tone” in Washington, DC eight years ago. But as long as Obama is willing to try, I’ll be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.