Friday, December 19, 2008

Well, Obama May Be Getting Desired Results From Picking Rick Warren.

Wow. If you haven't heard about this yet, peep the clip above.

Words/feelings that came to mind when I heard about Obama picking the conservative, anti-gay, pro-life Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural prayer... disappointed, aghast, sputtering with "oh hell no", feeling for people who already felt hurt by Prop 8... and also still hanging on to tenuous strands of hope. My hope, feeling (and prayer) is that Obama is very seriously front-ending coddling the disgruntled right. On the real, progressives should probably brace ourselves for more moments where we are gonna squirm uncomfortably as Obama goes about being the "uniter". Considering the historical emotional reception of a US President into office, I believe he is also really leaning hard on his kudo points so he can throw the right some symbolic bones. And when it comes to it, that's all it is. Symbolic. I mean, I would prefer Rick Warren to deliver the address than to be appointed to Supreme Court. But it still hurts. And not only the LGBTQ community, and advocates for the reproductive rights of women, but black folks and other folks of color are also like "What??"

But you know what? The tactic is working. Chillingly. On Pam's House Blend, Pam blogs:

How's the whole fundie outreach thing going, Team Obama? Look at who's giving you praise for giving Rick Warren the mic at the inaugural -- Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the man who paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 for his mailing list.

Whew. So uh... yeah. Basically... people, i know this feels effed up to most of us, and that this may feel like a betrayal of all the votes, support, money, kudo points and prayer we gave him. But I urge people to hang on to hope while Obama placates the crazy citizens of this country. All I know is we on the left got a loooooong progressive laundry list for Mr. Prez when he's done fundie flirting!


Peter Daniel St. Martin Wright said...

Obama is playing the political game like a genius. He understands that it is sometimes better to use your enemy than fight him.

richard said...

i love the way you think cuz.

Robin T said...

I think obama owes quick passage and signing of ENDA after this.

Hoping he's crazy like a fox but I'm far from certain. said...

Hey there Richard,

I told you that Obama was going to work over-time to appease the white electorate that he needs for his second term...this is all about strategy...

Do you think the white media is going to start running video clips and audio clips of ANYTHING inflammatory that Rick Warren has said?

Oh noooooo...that tactic was only used for Dr. Wright.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Tavdy said...

So this may simply be a case of keeping your friends close - and your enemies closer?

Obama has guts, risking pissing off the LGBT community.

DAVE BONES said...

Hope you are right

jeff said...

I'm not as hopeful as you, Richard, or PDSMW. I don't get how getting praise from bigots like Tony Perkins is advantageous (I don't even think it's advantageous from the perspective of getting re-elected, but that's a long argument). Invite people like Warren to the table to talk, but don't give 'em important jobs, and don't make them the symbol of your inauguration (or a big part of it, at least).

I don't understand the impulse toward complacency here; if I didn't know you better, Richard, I'd be worried about hetero privilege blinding you. I doubt that's what's going on here--we just differ on this one--but it's hard for me to 'get'.

Thing is, people keep talking about inclusiveness and talking as if inviting Warren to represent "one side" of a social issue. Well, that's a cop-out, and it's turning the *lives* of LGBTQ people into an "issue". If Obama were inviting David Duke to speak at his inauguration, there's wouldn't be talk of including Duke's "perspective" as if it were one-among-many-equals to be considered and included. Duke is a bigot, and he should be held outside of things like this. So should Warren.

richard said...

hey all! thanks for the input.

i hope that its clear that i don't believe that i think Obama made the *right choice* re: someone like Rick Warren to lead the spiritual tone of this historical event. And i don't believe this choice lend well to the idea of positive "Change". And like i said before, the timing is really bad in terms of making this choice right after the passing of Prop 8. That part really shocks me. It really affected my desire to even watch the inauguarion. it has definitely been soured for me.

I do see it as pretty daring strategy, considering that the right is probably waiting for Obama to turn the US into a "liberal orgy" any day now. And I do want Obama to be able to do two terms to make real change.

In truth, i am really trying to emphasize the positive here, and not have a complete political "break-up" with Obama around this issue. I am indeed hanging on to "Hope", even when "Change" doesn't seem to be so apparent right now. I am waiting for Obama to demonstrate his background in community organizing, structural feminism, and also to make up to the LGBTQ commnity with **action**, as opposed to the symbolic gesture he handed to the fundamentalists.

Robin's suggestion that he pass the ENDA asap would be a good start.

richard said...

and for what its worth, if Obama had chosen a more obviously racist but influential bigot to speak at his inauguration (say after affirmative action getting banned), i would have gone through similar feelings of anger and repulsion... and then, if only to remain sane, have to come back to holding on to the same tenous strands of hope, that this is a symbolic gesture and long term strategy, and that Obama couldn't have come this far only to turn on us.

i would also feel less inclined to watch the inauguration, as i do now. i'm still waiting to hear if Stevie Wonder is performing...

It is said that we will most intensely dislike someone if we intensely liked them at some point. That is, it is easier to have a deeper hate of someone you cared about than someone you didn't care about in the first place. I don't want to start on a path of hating Obama more than Bush before he has even been sworn in.

Perhaps this comes off as complacency. All i know is that some folks thought i was being naive about Obama winning in the first place, and i have to keep the positive energy going.

jeff said...

"...and for what its worth, if Obama had chosen a more obviously racist but influential bigot to speak at his inauguration (say after affirmative action getting banned), i would have gone through similar feelings of anger and repulsion... and then, if only to remain sane, have to come back to holding on to the same tenous strands of hope, that this is a symbolic gesture and long term strategy, and that Obama couldn't have come this far only to turn on us."

That's really interesting. Perhaps this just says something about a difference between you and me...your capacity to hope is larger than mine. That wouldn't surprise me, given that you're so passionate an activist--it would seem that hope would come in quite handy in that regard, and I'm a little jealous of you for it. I'm definitely more of a curmudgeon about Obama than I want to be...and perhaps your hopeful view is just a healthier, more well-rounded viewpoint.

I do hope, as many people are saying, that Obama will do more than give lip service to various progressives who helped put him in the presidency--that his follow through with the *real* stuff is good, even if I don't agree with him on some the so-called "symbolic" stuff. But I'm not going to hold my breath.

And (sorry to drone on), I think it should also be said that part of my "negativity" just has to do with holding Obama (and others) accountable--it's not about "breaking up" with him (though, sadly, we were never really a couple)'s about holding him accountable. You can love the guy and still want to do that (and, to his credit, I think he wants people to do that).

Robin T said...

Might have gotten what I wanted!
Apparently Obama's transition website now has more explicit GLBT(Q) committments. Story at said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...

Hello there Richard! {waves}

It is baffling to me that ANYONE thinks that Rick Warren and Obama have opposing views....

They don't.

Rick Warren asked Obama to give the definition of marriage. Obama said "a union between a man and a woman".

This is telling.

It means that Obama DOES NOT see marriage as "a union between two adults".

Rick Warren feels the same way.

Obama also is NOT supporting gay marriage.

Rick Warren is not supporting gay marriage.

Obama supports civil unions.

Rick supports equal rights for gays to have insurance and other benefits but he won't budge on the marriage issue.

Everyone in the black church construct knows that it is unapologetically anti-gay and anti-lesbian.

Obama's former church in Chicago is a gay-tolerant but is not carrying the "open and affirming" banner.

As much as the Obama-holics want to claim that Rick has such vastly different views than Obama, they are actually just employing a bit of magical thinking.

I have a complicated post on this issue and you are welcome to contribute to the dialogue. I warn you that the comment section is getting a bit loooooong.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

richard said...

Robin: wooo! thanks for this bit of great news! I'm definitely glad that your wishes look like they are being answered :) I had a feeling...

Lisa: hey Lisa! ha, i'm sure the comments list on your blog must be long if the premise is that Obama and Rick Warren share the same ideology on same sex marriage! Obama definitely seems to be playing an unpredictable chess game, but one that throws symbols to the white majority and the right, while working to pass things like the ENDA for LGBTQ folks. He has also done things in the past like host a talk at a infamously homophobic church, and when asked why he did that, he replied that he has to reach out to people "he doesn't necessarily agree with". And he also ran a No On 8 campaign while Rick Warren ran a Yes On 8 campaign. Obama calls prop 8 "divisive and discriminatory".

When i helped organize the No On 8 Rally in Oakland, i read a piece i wrote that aims to evoke empathy in the hearts and minds of people who interpret their religion (usually a religion centered around a God of Love) to mean they should disenfranchise people because of who they love. My intention is to either pass this out, or read this at churches, and raise consciousness around this sad community dividing issue. Would be interested to hear what you think of it.