Bloom off Obama rose

Or should I use every rose has its thorn as my opening cliche? Either applies to the stupefying decision of the president-elect to have ultraconservative windbag Rick Warren deliver the invocation at his inaugural, the appeal for which has dramatically gone down for me and millions of progressives like me who worked our tails off to validate Barack Obama’s promise of change, only to have this ultimate insult hurled at us here in the days leading up to Jan. 20.

Change, huh? What is there in the form of change in having a shlock who equates homosexuality to incest and pedophilia, who has said publicly that he thinks those who don’t buy into his particular narrow brand of Christianity will burn in hell, who is perhaps the nation’s leading evolution-denier, up on that stage of stages? Sounds to me like more of the same from the last eight years of Bush-Cheney and their assault on science and reason and analysis and even basic common sense than the change we need.

I get it, incidentally. This is on the part of Obama a “reachout,” a term I learned sometimes the hard way during the campaign as a new local Democratic Committee chair who had to have explained to him the motivation behind certain events that were organized to appeal to the ultras who were otherwise saying our candidate palled around with terrorists and was a Muslim and not even an American citizen and the rest at the expense of those who actually liked the candidate and wanted to see him win.

Great. I have no problem with, for example, keeping Bob Gates on at Defense and tapping Ray LaHood at Transportation. I remember somebody telling me in the context of the ongoing Virginia transportation debate that there aren’t congested Republican roads or congested Democratic roads, just congested roads. Smart moves in both of those instances.

This Warren thing, though, is so far over the line that we can’t even see it, heck, even fathom it, the line, that is, anymore. Because you can bet that Warren would be there if John McCain had won as a sop to the conservative base that McCain would forevermore even in the event of winning the election have political issues with. Imagine the howls if a President-elect McCain had selected as his invocation pastor someone who had led the fight against Prop 8 in California and actively backed a woman’s right to choose. More to the point, imagine trying to sedate Rush Limbaugh after that news were to come out. (You know, given his reputed tolerance for pharmaceuticals.)

I’d like to say here that I think that whoever in the transition apparatus is responsible for this boneheaded move of boneheaded moves should be sacked, but instinct tells me it might be the big guy himself who made the call on this one. I don’t want to believe that he was just thinking brazen power politics, because he’s a much, much smarter guy about these kinds of things than me, but hey, even I can tell you that my ultraconservative Republican friends aren’t going to fall in political love with Obama just because he had Rick Warren up there on the inauguration stage with him. So what was he thinking? I dunno – maybe he just likes Rick Warren, warts the size of Volkswagens and all.

Back to my earlier question about cliches – the Obama rose has as its thorn the stubborn, steely resolve of the man who wasn’t supposed to beat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination and who wasn’t supposed to fight back against McCain-Palin after they took a decisive post-GOP convention lead and wasn’t supposed to fight back when the other guys took swiftboating to a whole ‘nother level and certainly wasn’t supposed to win in basically landslide fashion.

He might need that resolve four years hence if the folks who did the heavy lifting to get him elected in ’08 decide to stop and smell another garden of roses in search of the change that it’s looking from this reachout to Warren as evidence we’re still going to need.

 

– Column by Chris Graham



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