In one of his earliest and most successful attempts to piss off the world and connect Iraq to the 9/11 attacks, Pres. George W. Bush labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea the “axis of evil,” and imposed sanctions intended to isolate them. Subsequent Bush-Cheney-Rice “diplomacy” has consisted of further punishing states with which they disagree by refusing to talk to them.
To say this policy has been an utter failure for the United States, leaving us with fewer friends in an increasingly polarized world, would be an understatement. Rather than crippling our alleged enemies, Iran and North Korea have only grown more defiant and closer to nuclear armament. And we all know the destruction and loss of life that resulted when Bush decided to halt the now proven United Nations weapons inspection program and invade Iraq instead.
Barack Obama examined the Bush cold shoulder policy and rejected it. He was derided by both Republicans and some Democrats â€” notably Hillary Clinton â€” for saying during the debates that he would be willing to talk to our opponents, including leaders of Iran. But history has shown that Obama’s path of holding friends close and enemies closer is wise.
Which brings us to Obama’s invitation to Pastor Rick Warren to provide his inaugural invocation. Gays are appalled that Warren, a man who unapologetically opposes gay marriage, was chosen. Why, they ask, would someone who helped pass anti gay marriage legislation be honored with a spot on this day of triumph for progressives?
As someone who has read both Obama’s autobiography, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, and his treatise on governing, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, I was less surprised or disturbed by Obama’s pick. It is, in fact, classic Obama to include those with whom he disagrees. What better way to dial down the angst of those on the right who think they are in for four to eight years of godless, socialist anarchy than to co-op Pastor Warren? It’s a move I expect to see repeated over and over during Obama’s presidency, and one that I believe will serve him well.
Unfortunately, it comes at a bad time for American gays, many of whom are still smarting over the California gay marriage reversal. They are turning their backs on Obama, who will likely do more to advance gay civil rights than any other president, or any other recent presidential candidate.
Personally, I’m just glad he didn’t choose someone like Mike Huckabee. Maybe the Huckster was too busy shamelessly promoting his new book or his FOX News show. Whew.
I’ve been asking those on the left, who dislike the Warren pick, for their candidate to deliver the invocation. I’m guessing that Obama was looking for someone a) famous, b) white, c) religious, d) Christian, and e) American, not necessarily in that order, to reassure white folk that Rev. Jeremiah Wright or Louis Farrakhan will be nowhere in the crowd. These criteria obviously aren’t the ones used by those who responded to my request for recommendations:
- Rev. Edwin Bacon or the Rev. Dr. George Regas of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena
- Rabbi Michael Lerner
- Journalist Bill Moyers
- Epidemiologist Dr. Lawrence Brilliant
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama
- Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.
- Dr. Phil
- Rev. Jim Wallis
Help me out here. Leave your own choice for who should lead the prayer at Obama’s inauguration.