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"
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.