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Starting out well

So Rick Warren's been chosen to give the invocation at Obama's inauguration. Anybody else super-excited to see a rabidly pro-life, anti-choice, anti-gay evangelical cleric blessing Obama and the nation? Fine, so he cares about poverty and children in Africa. You don't have to turn over too many steeples to uncover exciting, progressive clergymen and -women who feel the same way about those issues, and who recognize that legislating things like pregnancy and partnership are never good. (I won't launch into my tirade about how government is good at - and necessary for - balancing needs between competing interests, but terrible at - and should avoid - attempting to balance desires between different perspectives.)

But while Obama's choice is "causing [the] first real rift with progressives" - or so Huffington Post suggests - this effort is taking off. You can read some of the (so far) 16 comments - of which only one is gibberish, and that, literally: "ceguyomvpaxcetgolubxagbjzlwlcr" - on the initial post.

A little lower is a compendium of the comments from those of you who e-mailed. (Not to worry, I'll keep your names to myself.)

But I do want to highlight one in particular, from a Republican strategist here in Maine: "We like him more now that he is being sensible." I offer this to those of you who suggested I was pushing too hard, too soon, and expecting too much from Obama.

In response, I say: The Republicans have decided what they think of Obama based on his choices so far. We should too. We have more to learn from the Republicans about getting things done and playing the game of politics than they have to learn from us. (See Leahy's delay of Holder's hearings, something Republicans would never have agreed to.)

We need to play the game of politics, but play it with our goals in mind, and with tools like relentlessness and courage. Right now, Obama has chosen a team who have proven they can play politics with old centrist goals in mind and with the old Democratic tools - lassitude, lily livers, and whining. This is precisely why I am worried, and I believe that the fact that a Republican strategist thinks this way is confirmation that we progressives need to act now.

That said, here are the other comments I've gotten in my e-mail so far:

--Indeed, it sure seems like we got a Clinton administration cabinet. I know these times of crisis require having people who already know how to get things done in the heart of empire, but there are lots of people with those skills who aren't so New Democrat / Old GOP as this crowd. Still an improvement over W or McCain, I suppose.

--The hits keep coming: today Obama announced his secretary of Corn Subsidies [and] the fact that Rick Warren, anti-choice, anti-gay rights fundamentalist, will deliver the invocation at his inauguration. The Progressive movement doesn't even get bone.

--I disagree with both your premise and your cause, but I'll see if I can work in a mention of some sort. Or maybe you don't want me to! ;-)

--From the Portland Phoenix .hmmessage P { margin:0px; padding:0px } body.hmmessage { font-size: 10pt; font-family:Verdana } I agree with a lot of what you wrote. One area of difference is the idea of taking back Barack - he was my 4th choice, and really I only supported him because McCain was so f'n awful. What many of his appointments demonstrate is that we're in for another spell of Corporatism Lite, hardly the change that his campaign espoused (and many of us doubted would actually come to pass).  suppose the idea of a true progressive ever getting a whiff of the White House is pretty stupid after all.

--Please stop. Please stop now. Relax. I supported Obama from the first inkling of his run. Part of the change that I voted for, as a lifelong progressive, is to move us beyond these ideological food fights and tandrums. Obama promised to bring people together, to find common ground and common purpose. You can't do that with only one side of the room. You can't do that with just one party. And you sure as heck can't do it with just one segment of one party. The problems this country faces are so massive, and so historically unprecedented (they didn't have climate change during the great depression, for instance), that they require a great mobilization of people across the country, and across the political spectrum. Obama can't do that by filling every one of his cabinet positions with someone who passes a narrow ideological or partisan test. After decades of work on progressive causes, I've slowly but certainly come to some humility about what progressives know, and what they don't know. Progressives don't have all the answers - particularly on the economy - any more than the neocons did. Truth and wisdom isn't allocated that way, to one particular segment of the population. Its scattered around like pieces of a puzzle that need to be rounded up and reconstructed. Progressives simply don't own all the pieces of the puzzle, though they do own some important ones. The last thing we need in Washington, in my view, is yet another ideologically-driven narrow agenda, that takes us toward arrogance and division. Oh, and by the way, the guy isn't even in office yet. I'm not ready to write him off just yet.

--gotta build a coalition Jeff. He hasn't done anything yet, give him a chance.

--s time to Take Back Barackgood work..i agree..he's drifting ever further to the right..i gasped when i heard about the evangelical speaking at the inauguration...argh!

--I completely agree!! I sent an email around yesterday in a panic about his appointment for Sec of Ag. (bad choice!) we so wanted someone such as Michael Pollan: // wtf is going on?? I am sure you saw this one too ie. his pick for sec of education: //


 --Thanks for sending me this, I have been feeling a tad uneasy and feeling a bit like I was conned..where the hell is the change? I will send this out to folks I know because many of us are feeling this way yet no one wants to speak out about it too much.

  • Odysseus said:

    Let me see if I understand this:  A politician with almost no track record, but with a talent for self-promotion and playing the political game in one of the most corrupt cities in America promised you sweeping reforms and now it looks like he was blowing smoke?  I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you.

    Keep hoping for Change, there.  Really.  

    December 18, 2008 3:08 PM
  • Federale said:

    Ha.  Hopey changey Bob Gatesy.  That is what you get when you salivate over a crooked Chicago machine politician.  What you got was a half-black Bill Clinton.  Ha, ha, ha.

    December 18, 2008 3:19 PM
  • Frank White said:

    This is the most outrageously racist thing I have ever heard! You want to "Take Back" A black man!?! You racist hatemongers are trying to put black people back in slavery!?! I am beside myself to think that this is allowed in  the 21st century! How dare you racists try to bring back your policy of oppression! I am calling the NAACP and the UN Human Rights council to have your paper shut down! No hate speech! No hate speech!

    December 18, 2008 5:10 PM
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