Why is anyone surprised Obama picked Warren?
Just when you thought maybe the molten lava of Prop 8 protest backwash had cooled to street steam and legal challenges, BOOM! Barack Obama, of all people, rolls a great big grenade under the door of the gay community.
If you haven’t heard the yelling the last 24 hours after the announcement that controversial, pro-8 Pastor Rick Warren will be giving the opening prayer at the Obama inauguration next month, you must already be on vacation somewhere without any media access. Lucky you.
Everywhere from the Christian Science Monitor to Queerty is filled with the holiday song of righteous indignation and unhappiness. A CNN debate, refereed by Anderson Cooper, almost turned into a UFC cage fight. My colleague Joe Garofoli sums it all up well, with his usual flair.
Outrage, I can see. But why is anyone surprised? This choice illustrates the downside of inspirational figures and the accompanying bad habit of investing in Barack Obama your own ideas, values, priorities and views just because he moves you.
Mr. Obama has already disappointed the left-of-center members of his own party with Cabinet and adviser picks (the Clinton Brat Pack), bailout support, continued tax cuts for the wealthy and Janet Napolitano running immigration. One wise politico told me recently that the almost-President would likewise have to find ways to distance and differentiate himself from the Democratic power center in Congress (Nancy Pelosi et al) if he really wants to set out on a revolutionary agenda. He will need to show, every chance he gets, that he’s not the house (or House) servant of any interest group. It’s already happening.
That also means pissing off chunks of the population, then, apparently, using a sprinkler of, as the Queerty site says, “meaningless platitudes” to try to put out the fire.
Either that, or just come out and say you’re your own person, and tough noogies all around because that person is the same person who just got elected with great enthusiasm and hope. (Though the last person who tried that, and did it badly, was Jimmy Carter.) Whichever Mr. Obama chooses, there will be uproar. Remember, Barack Obama, like Warren, doesn’t actually believe in gay marriage. He said so, sitting at a table with Warren four months ago.
So strap in, for at least four years.
Which reminds me: I know it won’t work, but for those in the gay community really upset about this latest business, if you squint your eyes just a little, doesn’t Rick Warren look a bit like he could be one of those Movie Bear guys?