Shuck and Jive

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Obama's Talking Points on Warren

The Huffington Post has posted an article and has a number of links regarding opinions over Obama's pick of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration. Obama's transition team has received a flurry of negative response.

When questioned about his pick of Warren, here is what Obama said:

"A couple of years ago I was invited to Rick Warren's church to speak despite his awareness that I held views that were entirely contrary to his when it came to gay and lesbian rights, when it came to issues like abortion," he said. "Nevertheless I had an opportunity to speak, and that dialogue I think is part of what my campaign's been all about, that we're not going to agree on every single issue, but what we have to do is to be able to create an atmosphere where we can disagree without being disagreeable, and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans."
Now that the dust is starting to settle somewhat, this is what I am seeing:
1) It was good that there was a reaction to the selection of Warren and that Obama needed to give his reasons.
2) It was good for the public to do some 'vetting' of this rising star, Rick Warren, as to who and what he is really about. I hope this will continue.
3) It showed that those who want change in our country will need to make it themselves--get passionate and get organized--rather than wait for the president to do it.
4) It has caused us to consider the difference between appointments that are symbolic and those that effect policy. Both are important, but they are important in different ways.
5) I suppose I could be a bit more forgiving. It is Obama's party and he can invite who he wants. Or can he? I don't know. It will be fun if Ahmadinejad gets invited. Maybe Rick can take him out right there in the name of Jesus.
I read a suggestion (and have lost the source) that those who support a more inclusive cabinet and staff for Obama can use the energy of this moment to advocate for that. Want openly gay people involved in Obama's administration? Want to end this war? Want the President to be clear with the people about the looming energy and economic crisis? Contact the transition team.


  1. Thanks, John.

    I can find a way to agree with you on all points. Still, I find myself reeling -- how many years later? -- when I think of a president who for eight years never once mentioned the word AIDS from the bully pulpit, as it spread in the early 80's. Why this brings me back there, I am not sure - but it does, and it doesn't feel good at all.

    While subtly may be a virtue in politics - and perhaps this is a subtle tactic (or is it a strategy?) it's safely vague enough to have little meaning of consequence.

    No, I still believe the candidates were wrong to use the megachurch of Rick Warren for a debate and the administration is wrong to use him as one of the boundaries of our debate. We (LGBT/Q folk)are not debatable. Once that is understood - then maybe things will change and it won't make a difference who does the convocation or the blessing.

    What a day it might be if courage -rather than policy initiatives came first.

    Thanks, always, for your incredible contributions, John.

    Ray Bagnuolo

  2. Thanks, Ray. Good words.

    No, I still believe the candidates were wrong to use the megachurch of Rick Warren for a debate and the administration is wrong to use him as one of the boundaries of our debate. We (LGBT/Q folk)are not debatable.


  3. I have accepted and am resigned to the fact that Barack Obama has chosen the Right SOB Rick Warren to deliver the invocation, and that only Warren's refusal or inability to participate will stop it now.

    HOWEVER, I don't have to like it.

    (Not saying it about anyone here; I'm just still pissed at Thom Hartmann)

  4. Hi John. First, I wanted to say that I stumbled across your blog via a link on Street Prophets, loved it immediately, and added it to my blogroll. I really enjoy reading your posts, but I have to say I'm disappointed that in all the rants against Rick Warren (which I must say, I agree with about 99.5%) you never mentioned Joseph Lowery's inclusion in the ceremony.

    Lowery -- not only a hugely influential Civil Rights era figure -- but also a reverend, a black man, from the SOUTH...AND a SUPPORTER of gay marriage is giving the benediction. I think this is rather symbolic, and sums up what I believed Obama's campaign to be about.

    During his campaign, Obama repeatedly said he would bring together different voices to the table for an ongoing dialogue. Warren giving the invocation and Lowery giving the benediction is an example of just that. I'm not saying Warren is the best person I could think of to give the invocation, but he's not the worst. I think the bigger statement is the pick of Joseph Lowery, and this really shouldn't be overlooked.

    By only looking at Warren we lose sight of the bigger picture. And it's a symptom of the bickering that only splinters us and doesn't get things done. We need to bring all voices to the table before we can change any minds...and (much harder) hearts.

    Keep up the great dialogue here! And thanks for letting me comment.

  5. Thanks KS!

    Very good points and well stated. I am glad you are commenting here!!

    I think as the dust settles we can see a bit of the bigger picture at work.

    Thank you for reading, linking, and commenting!