Just as I predicted during the election, some of Obama's supporters are already upset with him for doing precisely what he said he would do during the election. I had many friends on the right fearful that Obama is some seriously left-wing nut-job that couldn't wait to completely re-engineer our country. But, having read Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope" and listening to what he actually said, I knew that would not be the case. My prediction was that those on the left would be disappointed that Obama is not liberal enough. By his cabinet picks and his inclusion of Rick Warren in the inauguration day festivities, Obama is showing that he is a true pragmatist. He does not believe that every good idea comes from the left or that people with differing opinions should be silenced. By choosing Rick Warren, who is such a lightning rod for the gay community because of his vocal support of Proposition 8 and his comparisons of gay marriage to pedophilia and incest, Obama knew he'd be upsetting many of his supporters.
In Obama's defense, the minister delivering the benediction is Reverend Joseph Lowery who is known for his inclusiveness and support for gay marriage (a step that Obama himself is not willing to take). By including both men on the agenda, Obama has reached out to make inauguration day an inclusive day appealing to both evangelicals and more conservative Christians and to progressives. Inauguration day is not a day to decide policy, it's a day to set the tone for the new administration and Obama has done that perfectly by including both of these men on the agenda.
While I vehemently disagree with many of Rick Warren's positions, I realize he is an icon among many evangelicals. And, Obama will need their support to get a lot of things accomplished. Evangelicals aren't all bad, BTW. Warren and his followers have made great progress on their view of AIDS, reaching out to help people around the world. They have also been doing a lot for world poverty. I'm glad that Obama is making them feel included on inauguration day.
I understand why some are upset at Rick Warren speaking. But, this decision does not represent a policy shift by Obama on gay rights. I am sure that on inauguration day, Rick Warren will not make any remarks about his opposition to gay marriage or anything else even slightly controversial. And, I'm sure Reverend Lowery will be open, inclusive and do a wonderful job. More importantly, Obama is giving us a glimpse of what his administration will be like, as he reaches out to both sides and tries to get us to all work together. How could a man who criticized George W. Bush's administration's fingers-in-the-ears diplomacy with Iran, refuse to allow Rick Warren to speak at the inauguration?