Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Astute Obama

I’ve pretty much decided not to praise or blame the new president until he actually becomes the new president. But I have to save his skill is revealed in the wholly symbolic Rick Warren thing. The only job the megapastor has been given is praying once! Of course Obama can’t side with those who believe that those who have religious objections to same-sex marriage have no place in respectable American political life. That would include, of course, casting out a majority of his black supporters. Obama himself has said--and perhaps sincerely--that he himself has such religious reservations. Arousing the anger, in a very predictable way, of gay-rights activists to make that point to mainstream America--including basically sympathetic evangelicals suspicious of his cultural agenda--is all gain, no loss. Meanwhile, Obama will do nothing to stop the Court from, soon enough, proclaiming a right to same-sex marriage, and he’ll say, at that point, that we gotta respect the Court. Remember that both Warren and Obama are proud of being uniters, not dividers.

Discussions - 3 Comments

Obama is a pragmatic politician, he knows deep down that being gay is wrong, (if it were normal none of us would be here) yet he claims that they deserve equal rights. Does Obama actually think that something that is inherently wrong deserves the endorsement of government? I doubt it. That is why he choose rick warren, not because he is trying to win political points, which he will, but because he is showing to the American people (who largely oppose gay marriage) that he agrees with their opinion. He is not going to come out and say that because what is the point. Actions speak louder than words, and he knows that.

One more point,

By his inclusion of Warren, Obama is opening the possibility of a more inclusive social liberalism. Inclusive social liberalism seems redundant, but people with personal experience of enthusiastic social liberals know that this is often not the case. For the last thirty plus years, many social liberals seem to have defined themselves by who they despise (white southernors, conservative catholics, evanglicals) at least as much as by the policies they have espoused. The objects of their hate have responded in kind and many centrists get turned off. The reaction to the Warren choice by many pro gay marriage folks points to a reflexive hatefulness and contempt for public disagreement. This reflexive hostility (which is found on both sides of the culture war)is at least as big a cause for the bitterness of our public life as our actual policy differences.

Obama seems to have figured out two things,

1. Social liberals will get farther politically if they actually show some of the tolerance that they constantly talk about.

2. It is more important to win policy fights than to emotionally wound and exclude people who disagree with you on some issues.

As a conservative, I like what this shows about Obama. He shows emotional maturity, cold calculation, and a sense of what is truly important. On the other hand, it also shows that Obama is going to be a very tough political opponent for conservatives to get a handle on.

So far he's doing a really impressive job of combining a far left agenda with the symbolic appearance of a moderate, generally inclusive approach....and we also have some indications where he intends on pursuing a more ideological agenda very aggressively (Daschle on healthcare). Peter is right that picking Warren gets alot by essentially sacrificing nothing--Obama can make all kinds of artful rhetorical concessions without sacrificing anything politically, as long as folks like Warren agree to play along. It would have been interesting if Warren has publicly rebuked the offer puttign O in a position where he had to address social conservative issues more directly and substantively

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