Eh, no big deal. Let Obama throw a meaningless bone to the Christians. More important is the fact that Mr. Warren is not being given a position of power in the government. The fundamentalists are more interested in symbolism than substance, so give them the symbolism, and give other people the substance, and everybody’s happy.
While I understand Brennen’s comment on the blog, I get sick and tired of voting for the lesser of two weevils (to quote Pogo). As the Republicans said, Obama speaks a good game, and now I tend to agree. Every day he does something that moves him further to the right of my views. I recently had occasion to go back and read Eisenhower’s address at the end of his presidency. I now understand that what we now call “centrist” is more than a bit to the right of the Republican philosophy of a half century ago.
I realize that for the rest of my functioning life I’ll be working for Instant-Runoff voting rather than for Democratic candidates. Liberals (and Libertarians, etc.) must have a way of expressing their real desires rather than gritting their teeth and voting for the candidate they think will screw the country a bit less than the other candidate.
I’m tired of it too, Occam, but I don’t see any viable alternative. We are ideologically extremists, and while I think we’re right that doesn’t mean we can carry more weight than that of our numbers. Some here suggest just throwing out the current economic and political systems and starting from scratch, but I don’t really see that happening. And I’m ambivalent about a truly multiparty system, since I see examples in other countries of governmental inertia or violent pendulum swinging as each tiny faction engages in alliance building and destroying, short-term marriages of convenience, and so on. I guess a big part of a system like ours is that the extremes get diluted into the middle, which is probably less dangerous in the long run than a system which gave small ideological groups real power.
The real challenge, I think is not so much the political system (though that needs lots of tinkering, and I certainly support Instant Runoff Voting), as it is changing the minds of the mainstream. In the last 30 years, we have effectively lost significant share in the marketplace of ideas, and America as a whole is, I think, more conservative than we are or than it used to be. Changing public opinion such that a truly liberal, secular, gay friendly candidate could actually be a contender seems what we should be working for. In the meantime, I think the differences between candidates do matter, however more centrist the Dems are than we’d like. Can you really imagine the last 8 years being anywhere near as horrific if Gore had been elected? He’s no Eugene Debs by a long shot, but I imagine thousands of people in Iraq wouldn’t be dead now, the next generation wouldn’t be saddled with the Catholic Right Wing Dream Team of a Supreme court, and so many things would be meaningfully better than they are. Obama may be the lesser of evils, but he’s a looooong way less evil than the other side.
So? What are y’all going to do? Talk some more? Why not organize something which might or might not spark something else? Obama is going to continue Bush’s “Faith-based” program funding. Do you agree with it? Perhaps there is something to be done? Perhaps organize a protest in DC against Warren cooperating with the Gay rights groups who will also be doing it?
As I commented on the blog post by Ron Lindsay, this move by Obama does not surprise me at all. I never expected him to come across as ideologically rigid; that wasn’t his mantra during the campaign, nor his pose in his books. And while I don’t agree with this particular move of his, neither do I like political ideologues. Ruling over a country filled with people of diverse opinions means making occasional gestures to the side that disagrees with you. That’s a political realism. One can pursue rigidity, but that tends to be a brittle and polarizing strategy; better to make plain your convictions but act with a certain willingness to compromise around the edges—particularly so when those compromises are symbolic.
I never felt that Obama was the savior of the US; he’s a very gifted and intelligent politician. As such, he’s also got a deep realist streak. I expect he will be a good president, and I also expect that if he’s smart he will use compromises like this one to further policies which are less symbolic and more real. If so, perhaps his questionable maneuver with Warren will in future be seen as a version of political ju-jitsu. It’s too early to tell, but I wouldn’t discount the possibility.
Ruling over a country filled with people of diverse opinions means making occasional gestures to the side that disagrees with you.
As a heterosexual man it is merely my opinion that gay people should be allowed to marry. If I was a gay, however, I am sure I would see it as my right. In my opinion, Obama’s choice of Warren was politically and morally wrong.
In my opinion, Obama’s choice of Warren was politically and morally wrong.
I would prefer to emphasize that Warren’s opinions on homosexuality and gay marriage are politically and morally wrong. As I said in the other thread, I also think that Obama’s choice of Warren at the inauguration was unnecessary and hence also politically and morally questionable. But this debate does remind me of the useless debate that went on during the campaign as to whether Obama was willing to sit down and talk with dictators “without preconditions”. The argument from the right is that this was politically and morally wrong, because these people advocated for morally improper ends. I am inclined to agree in general with Obama’s realism: in order to be an effective politician, one has to be willing to sit down with people some of whose opinions one strongly disagrees with. Warren’s opinions on gays are clearly bigoted, however he is more centrist and even left wing on some other issues. (As I understand it, global warming, the environment, poverty). Finding common ground has to start somewhere, so even if Obama shouldn’t have invited Warren to the inauguration, I don’t see anything in principle wrong with him opening up a dialogue with Warren, and even inviting him to the White House for talks on goals of common interest ... “without preconditions”.
At any rate, I think Obama’s clear rejection of gay marriage is significantly more morally questionable than his inviting Warren to give a speech. The former could have real implications for policy. The latter is largely a matter of symbolism.
We are ideologically extremists, and while I think we’re right that doesn’t mean we can carry more weight than that of our numbers.
Try looking at polling data for various issues over the years and you will see that large majorities of the American public are well to the Left on most of the issues.
Our numbers are huge.
Think about this: universal health care. For years more than 3/4 of those polled consistently advocated a single-payer program, yet anytime the business press in the WSJ or NYT or WP wrote about it they said it was not politically feasible. Of course it is revealing in that it points out where real political power lies, but you get the point.
As President, Obama should govern. He should manage. He should make difficult decisions. He should lead. He should not rule!
China has a ruler. Venezuela has a ruler. North Korea has a ruler. Cuba has a (dead?) ruler. Pretty much all communist dictatorships have rulers. Rick Warren and his ilk would love to rule people. The United States doesn’t elect rulers. We elect Presidents. The fact that so many people blithely accept a ruler—and the fact that Obama’s Transition Team also thinks he should rule—should be of great concern to all who love liberty. But, alas, too many people want to be ruled. And too many politicians want to rule them.