Even through my utter euphoria at Barack Obama being elected president, I knew there would be times in the coming years when I would disagree with certain decisions and policy stances taken by our new Democratic president. That's a natural thing -- I just didn't think one of those moments would come a month before he's even sworn into office.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, has announced a good program to usher in the Obama presidency on January 20th that, most unfortunately, includes rabid homophobe Rick Warren giving the opening prayer.
Warren is a prominent evangelical and founded the Saddleback Church in Southern California, strongly supported California's ugly Proposition 8 and has long fought against gay rights saying that "this is not a political issue -- it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about."
He will give the invocation after Inaugural Committee Chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) calls the event to order.
My friend Pam Spaulding at Pam's House Blend has some excellent coverage going on at her site and brings us some failed spin control from the Obama transition team from spokeswoman Linda Douglas: "This is going to be the most inclusive, open, accessible inauguration in American history," said Douglas. "The president-elect certainly disagrees with him on [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender] issues. But it has always been his goal to find common ground with people with whom you may disagree on some issues."
Please also check out AMERICAblog for what will certainly be outstanding coverage of every aspect of this nonsense.
My take on this is that President-elect Obama and his staff are being incredibly disrespectful to Progressives who were a major part of getting the Obama-Biden ticket elected and having Warren anywhere near the festivities on January 20th is just flat-out stupid politically.
People in the Religious Right will never support Barack Obama or his agenda, so giving a homophobic bigot like Warren such a prominent place on such a special day for our country will do absolutely nothing to gain Obama support from that lot. Meanwhile, he will piss off a lot of his supporters before he even takes office and will be going against what the mainstream of America thinks by boosting someone who is anti-choice, for continuation of the Iraq occupation and who clearly hates gay people.
And, of course, Warren's also at least a partial nut job, as shown in things like the episode on Sean Hannity's show in which he responds to Hannity saying we need to "take out" Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by saying that stopping evil "is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers."
Here's Warren's who-would-Jesus-bomb moment:
This isn't change any of us can believe in and Obama needs to find a graceful way to have someone else -- anyone else -- do the opening prayer on his big day. He also needs to remember that this isn't just his big day, it's also a huge occasion for our country and he has a responsibility to present people who represent the best of American life, not the worst.
This isn't a prime-time television special, so it isn't even necessary to pick someone who is well known -- how about a community-organizer member of the clergy who toils with silent dignity and doesn't support and defend discrimination? How about giving one of them a place on the national stage?
But a confirmed bigot? No way.
You can read more from Bob at BobGeiger.com.
Update: If you haven't read John Aravosis's piece, he does a beautiful job inventing a dialog that explains why the Warren choice is so awful far better than I ever could. Go here to see it.