Thursday, December 18, 2008

Inclusion Can Be Uncomfortable

I'm home nursing a cold and have concluded that daytime television is the chief contributor to both our educational woes and our obesity.

It's inane, and you have to eat to stay awake.

There's been a lot of talk today about Obama's choice of Rev. Rick Warren to do the invocation at the inaugural. Rev. Warren is not my favorite, to put it mildly. He and I disagree on many social issues, and when it comes to abortion and homosexuality, I consider his views downright dangerous because his opinions can be easily skewed to bolster those who would perpetrate hate crimes. While Obama has made it clear that he does not share those views, some on the left have loudly expressed their displeasure with his choice of Warren. And, some on the right are none to happy with Warren for accepting the invitation. I find it interesting that of all of Obama's cabinet picks, including the hawks who populate his national security team, it is this choice that seems to be generating the most heat, from the left. Warren will not be be setting policy in the Obama White House. He will be offering a prayer. Sure, symbolically this is significant, but more significant than the Gates appointment? I don't think so.

Obama has made it clear that he does not agree with Warren on gay rights, abortion, and a host of other issues, but he has also made it abundantly clear that those who disagree with him will have a place in the administration, and, apparently at the inaugural. I think that the inclusion of Warren sends a powerful message that the ideals of the movement that propelled Obama into office are strong enough to stand in the face of disagreement, however vigorous. Next to asking John McCain-or Sarah Palin-to do the invocation, having Warren on the stage at the inception of this administration is as powerful a symbol of coming together as Obama could have provided. It was at the forum at Warren's church that McCain, frankly, cleaned Obama's clock and subsequently took the lead in the polls. It was also in that lion's den that Obama stuck to his guns on gay rights and abortion, despite the displeasure of the crowd, and he proved that a politician an can do that and still win. Handily.

From his choice of Clinton at State to his inclusion of republicans in the cabinet, to this choice to invite Warren's participation at the inaugural, Obama is unafraid and, at his core a brilliant politician. Talk about not blinking. Obama brilliantly neutralizes his political opponents by adding them, in manageable ways, to his team. So, while I sympathize with those who are outraged, I believe that ultimately this kind of political courage will serve Obama well during his presidency.

Besides, it could be worse. It could be James Dobson. And, can you imagine Bush inviting say, Jim Wallis to pray? That's the difference in Bush and Obama.

2 comments:

Tina said...

Exclusion can be uncomfortable too. The catholics could fuss because protestants are delivering both the invocation and the benediction.
Similarly Jews and LDS church members could consider themselves unrepresented.
And, of course, it should be noted that Obama has chosen a white male and a black male for his opener and closer.
Asians and women can feel left out.
All of which leads me to two conclusions: (1) religion and politics mix like oil and water and (2) the whole matter is a tempest in a teapot compared to thousands of Americans losing their jobs, thousands of Americans and Iraqis dead in a tragic war, thousands dying of cholera and aids and genocide in Africa, hundreds or worthy charities losing their funds in Madoff's Ponzi scheme........
..and, well, there's plenty more that can added to the list of what's more important than who gives the invocation at the inauguration.

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