Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mad at Barack

It had to happen. Politicians all tend to disappoint eventually--even the best of them. You just can't please all of the people all of the time. And today, I am not pleased with my President-elect.

Have you seen Barack Obama's inaugural program?

Musical Selections - The United States Marine Band

Musical Selections - The San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus

Call to Order and Welcoming Remarks - The Honorable Dianne Feinstein

Invocation - Dr. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA

Musical Selection - Aretha Franklin

Oath of Office Administered to Vice President-elect Joseph R. Biden, Jr. - Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Hon. John Paul Stevens

Musical Selection - John Williams, composer/arranger

Itzhak Perlman, Violin

Yo-Yo Ma, Cello

Gabriela Montero, Piano

Anthony McGill, Clarinet

Oath of Office Administered to President-elect Barack H. Obama - Chief Justice of the United States, Hon. John G. Roberts, Jr.

Inaugural Address - The President of the United States, Hon. Barack H. Obama

Poem - Elizabeth Alexander

Benediction - The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery

The National Anthem - The United States Navy Band "Sea Chanters"

I had hoped that the Obama inauguration might bring some youth and modernity to the inaugural program--maybe a jazz performance or something--but this appears to be the same old, same old. (On the other hand, for the first time in history a gay and lesbian organization will march in the inaugural parade.) But my entertainment criticism is just a trifle--not my real beef. How did Rick Warren find his way on to the stage--anti-choice, anti-female equality, anti-gay rights, anti-stem cell research, pastor of Saddleback Church Rick Warren?

Okay, that question is disingenuous. I know how and why Warren is part of the presidential inauguration. Barack Obama has pledged to be a unifier, which is especially important with the hard road the country has ahead. An olive branch may give some moderate Republicans incentive to support Obama on key issues in the future. Our 44th president wants to send a message to Evangelicals and others on the right that he is their president, too. That's okay--admirable even. I wish that President Bush had done more of that instead of sniping about "liberals" as if folks like me were simply barnacles on the bums of the country's real citizenry. But there is unification and then there is pandering and kowtowing. When a Democratic president-elect embraces a figure that stands in opposition to fundamental progressive ideals, he is in danger of doing the latter. We don't have to demonize the opposition, but this...this seems like a step too far.

I know there ain't no way there will be a black liberation theology-spouting preacher on stage come Jan. 20, but the United Church of Christ, the denomination of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and until recently the Obama family is known for its devotion to social justice, civil rights and "open and affirming" churches that welcome GLBT members. Why not invite a UCC pastor onto the stage or a Unitarian Universalist or someone else who proves that Christianity is not the antithesis of liberalism?

Though my fellow progressives are losing their minds over this, I concede that it isn't a huge deal in the scheme of things. Warren is coming on stage to say a few words during a ceremonial event; he's not joining the Cabinet and making policy. I can get over it. But feints to the right can be costly gambles. Obama should be careful not to alienate his own base while trying to soothe another. And at some point, folks will either get on board or they won't.

The Field Negro said it well:

But you know what O man? At some point these other folks--- you know the ones who didn't vote for you-- -are just going to have to get over the fact that you won. And if you do a good job as their president, all these little tokenized (I made that word up) acts and the symbolism that goes along with them won't be necessary, because their lives will be better than it was before you became POTUS.

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