Remember how during the campaign, Barack Obama was assailed as a nearly untouchable politician whose lofty rhetoric could lift him away from even the thorniest of political liabilities (read: Rezko, Wright, et. al)? Well, those days are over. Obama warned that sometimes we’d disagree with his decisions, but I don’t think he meant for all of us to disagree with him at once, which is exactly what’s happened as mainstream America learns what gays and lesbians have known for some time: Rev. Rick Warren is a crazy homophobic nutjob.
Christopher Hitchens writes in a piece called “If we must have an officiating priest, surely we can do better than this vulgar huckster” for Slate:
“As Barack Obama is gradually learning, his job is to be the president of all Americans at all times. If he likes, he can oppose the idea of marriage for Americans who are homosexual. That’s a policy question on which people may and will disagree. However, the man he has chosen to deliver his inaugural invocation is a relentless clerical businessman who raises money on the proposition that certain Americans–non-Christians, the wrong kind of Christians, homosexuals, nonbelievers–are of less worth and littler virtue than his own lovely flock of redeemed and salvaged and paid-up donors.
This quite simply cannot stand.”
“But on the signal issues of the religious right he is, as he himself has said, as orthodox as James Dobson.
And as inflammatory. Warren doesn’t just oppose gay marriage, he’s compared it to incest and pedophilia. He doesn’t just want to ban abortion, he’s compared women who terminate pregnancies to Nazis and the pro-choice position to Holocaust denial. (Hmmm … If a fertilized egg is as precious as a born Jewish human being, does that mean a born Jewish human being is only as valuable as a fertilized egg?)
Speaking of Jews, Warren has publicly stated his belief that they will burn in hell, presumably along with everyone else who hasn’t accepted his particular brand of Christianity (i.e., the vast majority of people in the world). And forget about evolution — the existence of homosexuals, he’s argued, disproves Darwin. And while we may not know how old the Earth is, the Saddleback website assures us that dinosaurs and humans coexisted.”
“Giving that kind of mark of approval and honor to someone who has frankly spoken in ways I and many others have found personally very offensive, I thought that was a mistake for the president-elect to do”
Even Mary Mitchell, the Chicago Sun Times correspondent who seems to know what Obama’s doing before he does, finds the decision to have Warren officiate “insulting”:
“Let me first say, I read Warren’s A Purpose Driven Life and found it full of wisdom that has helped me to deal with my own personal challenges.
That being said, I, too, am stunned by Obama’s decision.
Frankly, it’s insulting.
How do you put a civil rights icon like the Rev. Joseph Lowery at the tail end of an event that honors the nation’s election of its first African-American president?
The only reason I can think of for Obama to give Warren such an honor is that he is already thinking about re-election.”
And The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates, who never liked Obama in the first place, thinks that whether Obama is being hypocritical is beside the point, arguing:
“The diplomatic part is this: Barack is the president of the United States. He has all sorts of people pressuring them. His job is to respond to those pressures in such a way as to not break the consensus he needs to get things done, and to expand the Democratic brand in the American mind. So when people make the pragmatic arguments, it’s not that I think they’re wrong. They are, in fact, totally right.
But Obama’s job, isn’t my job. I just don’t think it’s my role to make him as comfortable as possible. This isn’t about betraying progressives, it isn’t about lefties being “depressed,” it isn’t about a Democratic civil war, and it doesn’t need to be squished into a seven minute segment on Hardball. Let’s be honest here–Barack Obama has, so far, been exactly what we expected. Exactly. Let us acknowledge that. But let’s not use that as an excuse to not our job, which is as I see it, to say, “Mr. President. Now, do more.”