Friday, December 19, 2008

Why Obama's Rick Warren Pick Is Such a Shock

I understand what Obama's doing in picking Warren for his inaugural - part of his "building dialogue," and Obama made no bones about his interest in Christianist outreach.

And I've been thrilled with Obama's centrist administration so far.

Still, I think he's starting to overdo it on the outreach. Couldn't he have given the liberals at least one cabinet member? Salazar, for instance, seemed like a bit of a slap in the face to environmentalists. Why go there, when he's already built a solid centrist cabinet on the economy and defense?

Now, we have Warren, a solid supporter of Prop 8.

What's upsetting is that Christianists have just had eight years of outreach from Bush. And gays and lesbians have had eight years of being pushed to the back of the bus. Given that when we're not at the back of the bus, it's because we're being thrown under it, this initial gesture from Obama I think stretches the faith in him past most people's tolerance.

It's not just that Warren getting the plumb spot is insulting (and, if truth be known, also turns me off to the idea of even wanting to watch the inaugural now). It's that there were many other ways Obama could have considered outreach to the homophobic far right for his inaugural. And where's his outreach to us (and no, the gay marching band bringing up the back of the bus doesn't count)? Where is that great inclusion of the gay and lesbian American into Obama's rainbow? Does Obama not get it? Does he not see this as the equivalent of Lyndon Johnson inviting George Wallace to give a major speech at his inauguration, while the black marching core gets to do a baton number at the back of the parade? Is he that politically tone deaf? Or still that naive? Is this is "gays in the military" moment, where he makes his first momentus symbolic blunder?

Or is Obama really all just rhetoric, as his fiercest critics claim? I never would have believed it...but now....maybe Obama's critics have a point.

Color me disillusioned. It's a dangerous thing, having your Obama-faith dashed like this. Now, you might believe anything about him, even the worst. At the very least, after this, expectations of getting any kind of joy from the Obama administration just got dashed. After the passage of Prop 8 - and after all the hope we put into him - that's particularly depressing.

No doubt, Obama could still end up surprising us. But with this sort of shocking initial foot forward, I'm kind of wondering...we could have gotten this exact same economic and security team from Hillary. And Hillary may have triangulated the gay issues...but at least you knew where she was going to stand...and you knew that whether it came to mullahs at home or mullahs abroad, she wasn't going to blithely reward intolerance.

So why was it again that I didn't vote for her?

Until now, I'd been having high hopes for the "era of hope." Now, I'm surprised that I'm already starting to wonder about my vote... and what else Obama's slick sales pitch might have sold me on...and he hasn't even taken office yet.

Scales, dropped. It's like that commercial. I want to slap my head and say, "damn, I could have had Hillary."

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