Where to begin? With so many folks coming from opposing camps and ideologies as part of his crew (see the choices of former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, a longtime free trader, as U.S. trade representative, and Rep. Hilda Solis, a free-trade opponent, as labor secretary; article here), either Barack Obama’s presidency will be one of extraordinary forward motion, or it’ll be the equivalent of that old, crude joke about the kid walking around and around in circles ‘cause one of his feet is nailed to the floor. Or it may be something else altogether. Speculation on what it all means, what the next four years will be – all amidst much moaning and hand wringing across the political spectrum – has already become tedious as fuck and the man ain’t even in office yet. And it’s pointless. Until he is in office, until he and his assembled team are writing policy and putting it in effect, until we see what he does (or even can do) to undo not only eight years of colossal fuck-up after colossal fuck-up, not to mention all the last minute lame duck giveaways and coffer pillaging currently taking place, everyone should just shut the fuck up. Everybody’s Miss Cleo, claiming to see the future based on – nothing substantial yet.
Full disclaimer (and broken, scratchy record repeating the same refrain) here: I have little faith in any politician, especially one who could actually become president of this country within the current set up of our political apparatus, to really effect “change,” to really be a “visionary.” Many of my friends of all hues, accents and genders look at me aghast and appalled when I say that because, yes, I do include Barack Obama in that statement. I feel the same about any woman, LGBT person, or other person of any other color who might attain the office. As a person, based on what I have seen and read, I like Barack Obama a lot, would love to hang out with him. (If for no other reason than to hang out with Michelle.) As a person, I think he’s cool. And I voted for him. But he’s also a politician, one whose policies and record were / are / were not really all that different from Hilary’s – and his is certainly not really the record of a “progressive.” But without question he was a far better – simply human and humane – choice than McCain.
All that to say, the selection of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Obama’s inauguration is a big, bitter disappointment. It would be under almost any circumstance. Warren is anti-gay, anti-choice and does not believe in evolution. Backwards than a mug, the very face of the very “America” that lots of folks worked tirelessly to root out and replace. The fact that he actively and with much political currency campaigned to help pass Prop. 8 dumps a lot of salt in a bloody cultural & political wound. Yes, I know – keep your enemies close; this is part of Obama’s vision to hold conversations with folks whose opinions he might not fully share; it’s a way to show those folks who did not vote for him that they are welcome at the table anyway. And so on. And with that line of reasoning, given the red-in-the-face racists that howled and ran to stock up on guns and ammunition when it became clear he was going to win, Obama should extend a speaking invitation to… well, you see where this is going.
It’s unfortunate that all the hoopla over Warren has overshadowed the fact that the inaugural benediction will be delivered by Joseph Lowery, a man who according to the media and racist white gays and lesbians is the equivalent of a unicorn – he doesn’t actually exist: He’s Negro, a longtime and iconic Civil Rights activist, devout Christian, and pro-gay and pro-gay-marriage. Negro counter-part to white homophobia. I predict he’ll be amazing. But I don’t buy the argument that having Lowery close what Warren opens is “balance” or “fairness,” though in theory, in its on-paper symmetry and racial dynamic, it is head-spinning in its poetry. Still, that argument suggests an equivalence of value for the ideas the two men espouse and the ideals they stand for. Lowery is a futurist, a visionary. Warren is ass-backwards. He shouldn’t be speaking at any American presidential inauguration, but especially not this one. Why inject more cancer cells into a cancer-riddled body when you’re claiming to be bringing chemo? The one possible silver lining in all this is the fact that hardcore right-wingers are in a possibly base-fracturing tizzy, denouncing Warren as a sell-out and condemning him for legitimizing a “baby-killer,” a “terrorist.” If this potential right-wing fallout is part of some brilliant diabolical plan on Obama's part, I tip my hat to him. It would be a layered political manipulation of the inauguration that pushes the proceedings out of pageantry and feel-good rhetoric into sharp, longterm effects-yielding tool. We shall see.
You must read this.