How do I hate this idea? Let me count the ways:
1. Warren supported California’s Proposition 8 banning gay marriage.
2. He opposes abortion, terming it an “American holocaust.”
3. He opposes stem cell research.
4. Warren agreed with FOXNews’ Sean Hannity, who advocated “taking out” Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
I really do understand the strategy at work here and in general approve of it. It’s a good thing to reach beyond the traditional Democratic base and embrace evangelicals. Seeing evangelicals as our mortal enemies is not a good thing. Where we have common interests we should make common cause.
But Obama is playing a dangerous game. He’s figuring if I want to draw in evangelicals I’ll go to the big Kahuna. If I can work with him then his followers will follow. He figures that as president he will be able to subsume Warren and his followers within his own overarching political agenda. But what happens if Obama’s charisma isn’t enough to keep the evangelicals in line, and he finds at some later date that he needs their vote in 2012 or he needs their legislative support? What price will he be willing to pay then? What’s he willing to jettison from his social agenda for the sake of keeping Rick Warren happy?
I would much rather Obama have chosen a more moderate evangelical to deliver his invocation. There are such figures in the movement. It is not all Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells. By choosing someone with whom he had more in common politically he would’ve made his point about drawing in evangelicals, but wouldn’t have done such violence to his own political philosophy.
Obama apparently believes that inviting Rev. Joseph Lowery, one of Martin Luther King’s chief aides and former leader of the Southern Christian Leaership Conference, to deliver the benediction, he’s provided some political-religious balance.
I’d urge Obama not to forget American Muslims as well. They were virtually invisible during the campaign and Obama ran away from them as fast as he could for obvious reasons. But he shouldn’t have to do that now. And using his middle name during the swearing in ceremony isn’t sufficient.
While everyone loves Yo Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman, for political and creative reasons I would love to have seen Daniel Barenboim perform as well. His support for Palestinian rights and status as an Israeli citizen would speak volumes without having to say a word.