“A shrewd man has to arrange his interests in order of importance and deal with them one by one; but often our greed upsets this order and makes us run after so many things at once that through over-anxiety to obtain the trivial, we miss the most important.”
-François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld
"Nil sapientiae odiosius acumine nimio."
(Nothing is so odious to knowledge as too much shrewdness)
-Seneca (Quotation best known from its use by Poe in "The Purloined Letter."
Much is being made about Barack Obama’s choice of Pastor Rick Warren of the Saddleback Church to speak at his Inauguration. Pastor Warren, author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” a book perhaps best known for defusing a deadly hostage situation (along with some methamphetamine of course) will be delivering the invocation.
(Incidentally, another copy of the book was found in Scott Peterson’s car…)
Pastor Warren is a vocal opponent of gay marriage, you see.
So the far left is up in arms that Obama would give such a closed-minded buffoon a podium at such an important event, and the far right is angry at Pastor Warren for even being seen as willing to stand up in the same room with Obama.
Both are good signs. Because Pastor Warren is the balanced choice. It makes sense that the balanced choice pisses off both extremes.
Obama needs to unite the majority of this country in order to get even a quarter of his agenda done, considering how ambitious that agenda it. This includes recalcitrant Christians that as of this moment are thinking of him as somewhere in between Osama Bin Obama, and Satan.
Pastor Warren, while having the common Christian myopia about gays, and having even publicly equated homosexuality to pedophilia and incest, is still a much more logical thinker than most of his Evangelical brethren, and far less hypocritical. And his church is enormous.
So he is the perfect bridge.
If Obama were to (for instance) speak to Pastor Warren about actually reducing the number of abortions drastically without making it illegal, I think that common ground can be found. And once the administration has Pastor Warren’s “blessing” as it were, a large percentage of Evangelicals will have something to think about. And they just might, too. Also, I do not see Obama ceding any ground to Pastor Warren’s side as regards the issue of Gay rights. He’s already made his move to the center on that issue by not technically backing Gay marriage while supporting Gay civil union with all of the equivalent perks.
Obama is as advertised, we are now seeing. He wishes to be a uniting force. We are not used to seeing anyone like this in American politics. We’re used to hearing people *talk* as if they were like this. Huge difference. The pundits are befuddled. Some of them seem angry and are apparently feeling betrayed. This will pass. He is not even the president yet, and already the country is straining at the bit for him to take over this leaking ship and steer it toward safer harbor. Or more like dry dock. Sometimes I think that some of the talking heads of the news business would like to see the President-Elect storm the oval office and physically decapitate Bush and proclaim himself President now, for the sake of the country of course.
(And oddly enough, looking at all the *horrific* “midnight regulations” that Bush & Co. is passing in their final days of power, they may be right; not that Obama really should behead Bush, but that, if he did, that we would be far better off, and that far more lives and treasure would be saved in the long run.)
If Obama were to alienate the evangelical community as the far left would have him do, perhaps justifiably, they can do a lot of harm to him. As it is, the RNC is already commencing its new life mission, to block whatever they can block, regardless of cost to the country, so as to try to “win” something, anything. They’re in the middle of one hell of an identity crisis, and they are desperate to gain back even a shred of their self-respect. (Perhaps if they acted respectably they wouldn’t lose it so easily) The Evangelical community would work with them against the common foe, as they often have in the past. Soulless people like Tony Perkins would come out of the woodwork and pronounce what is and is not moral to *us God-fearing folk* and would have no compunction in demonizing even a good man if it is in their political best interests. Florid-faced angry Caucasians would be on every television station casting aspersions on the very humanness of the man, spraying spittle sporadically as they splutter their specious spleen.
Pastor Warren is not of that ilk, which is why Obama chose him. He cares about the poor, or actually seems to. He seems genuinely to wish to live a Christ-like life, unlike so many who with debatable accuracy also call themselves Christians. He is reasonable on many issues, and is not an uncompassionate man, from what I can tell.
Now, I do not see Obama’s choice of the man in any way as an indication that he is moving toward the right. I see it as a validation that he will rule from the center-left, which is a far batter place to rule from than we’ve had in a very long time. He will accomplish this by not only creating a spirit of fairness and inclusiveness but also at the same time by, to paraphrase LBJ, having those who would stand outside his tent and piss in, stand instead inside and piss out.
I didn’t see it this way at first glance. It seemed an extreme choice. Pastor Warren after all, from the viewpoint of a gay American, is an espouser of hatred and ignorance. Indeed, his attitudes are appallingly closed-minded in many areas, in spite of his openness in some others. But at least he has his areas of openness. They’re hard to find in the Evangelical community. And it’s the very fact that he does represent or is at least related to by many people that hold hatred in their hearts for Gays and even for Liberals, that makes him such a valuable person to have “on the team.”
If he plays this right, both extremes will come around eventually, at least in part. And the middle will never have a qualm in the first place. So it would produce the maximum best-case-scenario result. Balance.
Obama knows that he cannot please all of the people all of the time. But then again, now that he’s been elected, he no longer has to. This is one tough, balanced, smart person that we’re dealing with here. Get used to it.