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MEET THE dePRESSing failure to see the gravity of this matter

by Jeremy Hooper

Axelrod defends the Warren fiasco:

The "important point" is that you have "a conservative evangelical pastor who's coming to participate in the inauguration of a progressive president"? In one emphatic word: NO!! The important point is the progressive president chose to invite a man with shockingly regressive views about gay people to speak at this ceremonial occasion. And quite frankly, it's more than a little patronizing for Mr. Axelrod to now tell us that we should be focusing on the fact that Pastor Warren deemed the progressives worthy of his presence rather than the fact that Pastor Warren doesn't deem gays worthy of church membership, comparisons better than ones involving incest and pedophilia, or any sort of active love life!

Look, we totally get and agree with the need to come together, work together, build bridges, heal America, and create a giant hope-y umbrella. But it can't be repeated enough that this is a ceremonial prayer for the nation and its new president, not a policy roundtable. The Obama administration has bestowed a symbolic honor on a man whose views are widely out of step with what progressives should be all about. Would Bush have extended the same invite to the openly gay V. Gene Robinson? Absolutely not, because a major portion of his party would have raged with the fury of a thousand Dobsons. And unlike Warren, Robinson doesn't even shun an entire group of human beings -- his un-invitable "misstep" is simply that he's "radical" enough to be both true to himself and true to his God. But yet in the name of "bridge-building," this new, supposedly progressive administration is willing to overlook both the callous missteps that Warren has directed towards LGBT people, as well as the genuine pain that the selection has caused in the hearts of the gay community and its progressive allies?! F***ing ouch!

Mr. Axelrod, this is much more than us irrationally "shaking our fists" at someone on the other "jagged edge of a great divide." This is us shaking our principled heads at the free pass that even our Democratic allies are willing to give to anti-gay bias. The difference between those two reactions is considerable.

*Here's Frank Rich's thoughtful column, which is mentioned in the piece: You’re Likable Enough, Gay People [NY Times]

*"MTP" Transcript:


: Let me turn, in our remaining moments, to the issue of politics. I don't have to tell you that the president-elect has been criticized by some of his supporters for naming Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration, the evangelical figure, preacher, pastor in California who is opposed to gay rights and supported Prop 8 in California, which overturned gay rights in California. Frank Rich in The New York Times wrote this that was critical of the president-elect this morning. "Obama may not only overestimate his ability to bridge some of our fundamental differences but also underestimate how persistent some of those differences are. ... When Obama defends Warren's words by calling them an example of the `wide range of viewpoints' in a `diverse and noisy and opinionated' America, he is being too cute by half. He knows full well that a `viewpoint' defaming any minority group by linking it to sexual crimes like pedophilia is unacceptable." Let me just point out that Rick Warren did liken gay marriage to a brother and sister marrying or to an older guy marrying a daughter. Do you think that the president-elect has risked offending the very people who put him into office?

MR. AXELROD: Well, look, Rick Warren and the president-elect have had a dialogue for some, some time, David. They've had a dialogue about things on which they agree, such as fighting poverty and reducing the terrible plight of--the terrible disease that, that crosses Africa. And they've, and they've had a dialogue about things on which they disagree, such as civil rights for gays and lesbians and a woman's right to choose. But the important point here is that you have a conservative evangelical pastor who's coming to participate in the inauguration of a progressive president, and this is a healthy thing and a good thing for our country. We have to be--we have to find ways to work together on the things on which we do agree, even when we profoundly disagree on other things. And that's how we are going to build bridges of understanding and move this country forward. And that's what Barack Obama promised as a candidate. That's what he's going to deliver as president.

MR. GREGORY: But is--isn't the question for all those progressives, all of those new registrants to the Democratic Party, when you promised a progressive presidency with a progressive candidate, and then you get this. Pat Robertson, the televangelist who said in praise of Obama this week, "I am remarkably pleased with Obama. ... He's picked a middle-of-the-road Cabinet." Again, do you think Obama supporters would think that that's the kind of praise they want to hear?

MR. AXELROD: David, we've got to get beyond this sort of politics where we're each on the jagged edge of a great divide, shaking our fists at each other. We do have a great Cabinet. We're proud of that Cabinet. It's diverse. It represents great talent and experience from inside Washington and outside Washington. It's going to move this country forward. And if that pleases people, whether they're from the right or the left, that's fine. But the, the bottom line is watch what we do, watch the policies that we implement. We're going to move this country forward.

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Your thoughts

Looks like we really don't get the need to come together. Obama has a terrible job to do And he'll need wide public support to do it. For me, having a black man fix the national mess will be a huge moral victory for liberalism. If he succeeds, I'll dance in the streets. I intend to do anything I can to help him, and I don't have time for identity politics just now.
Going for marraige instead of domestic partnership was a strategic mistake anyway. But I forget. Our great self righteousness excuses us from having to think strategically.
I can't help myself. It's a habit of the years.
We should argue with Warren himself. Boycott the 8 sponsers. And leave Obama alone. He's our friend, just as the Clintons were. They can't give us everything we want because of the many people who are not our freinds. They made the best deal they could on dodt and went to the mat for healthcare. That's called having priorities in order.
And there are issues more important than bouquet throwing. I want the economy fixed, national healthcare (especially considering my community's need for medical care), green energy, clean transit, and fair housing and employment in the private sector. For all that, I'm willing to take this insult like an adult and move on.

Posted by: WillBFair | Dec 28, 2008 3:27:51 PM

"I want the economy fixed, national healthcare (especially considering my community's need for medical care), green energy, clean transit, and fair housing and employment in the private sector. For all that, I'm willing to take this insult like an adult and move on."

WillBFair: This not an either/or situation. We can speak out about Warren without losing sight of long-term goals. And it's not childish to defend your existence against the pervasive stain that is bigotry.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Dec 28, 2008 3:31:49 PM

I will continue to do whatever I can to support Obama and the democrats, but when they do something stupid like this, I won't hold back. Refusal to criticize our leaders is what got us into the current mess.

Posted by: RainbowPhoenix | Dec 28, 2008 7:38:02 PM

I shouldn't have implied that anyone is being childish. But I think getting all smarfy about a public insult is bad pr.
This is an old argument for me. And I had forgotten how far out of the gay mainstream my views are. I was yelled out of discussion groups 30 years ago from Stanford to Berkeley to SF State for begging them to cool the promiscuity until we knew more. I dropped out of queer politics and watched the movement go to town over a ton of secondary issues, from blaming Reagan for AIDS, to dodt, to the rest of the Clintons' political manuevers.
I loved watching the Clintons dodge and weave. Far from criticizing Obama for doing the same, I say go daddy. Make me a sweater.
But I can see that my words here are inflamatory, and I should probably go elsewhere. Thanks anyway for the polite replies.

Posted by: WillBFair | Dec 28, 2008 7:38:08 PM


You know as well as I do that your words are not imflamatory. We can see that by the lack of reaction they received. Jeremy did give a polite reply though.

I gotta tell you though (and I hope that I'm not being rude by saying this) that spiel you gave about Stanford and Berkeley and promiscuity and "gays unfairly blaming gays for AIDS" is something I read on another blog by another poster. I would sincerely hope that your motives are sincere and you are not committing the act of plagiarizing for the sake of flaming.

Again I apologize if I am making incorrect assumptions but I just thought I should mention that.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Dec 28, 2008 9:20:52 PM

No,no...what we can get into is the RICH op ed--- where he says:

Bestowing this honor on Warren was a conscious — and glib — decision by Obama to spend political capital. It was made with the certitude that a leader with a mandate can do no wrong.
Unlike Bush, Obama has been the vocal advocate of gay civil rights he claims to be. It is over the top to assert, as a gay writer at Time did, that the president-elect is “a very tolerant, very rational-sounding sort of bigot.” Much more to the point is the astute criticism leveled by the gay Democratic congressman Barney Frank, who, in dissenting from the Warren choice, said of Obama, “I think he overestimates his ability to get people to put aside fundamental differences.”

...but he does pursue the good news as in:
the dawning realization that the old religious right is crumbling — in part because Warren’s new generation of leaders departs from the Falwell-Robertson brand of zealots who have had a stranglehold on the G.O.P. It’s a sign of the old establishment’s panic that the Rev. Richard Cizik, known for his leadership in addressing global warming, was pushed out of his executive post at the National Association of Evangelicals this month. Cizik’s sin was to tell Terry Gross of NPR that he was starting to shift in favor of civil unions for gay couples.
Cizik’s ouster won’t halt the new wave he represents. As he also told Gross, young evangelicals care less and less about the old wedge issues and aren’t as likely to base their votes on them. On gay rights in particular, polls show that young evangelicals are moving in Cizik’s (and the country’s) direction and away from what John McCain once rightly called “the agents of intolerance.” It’s not a coincidence that Dobson’s Focus on the Family, which spent more than $500,000 promoting Proposition 8, has now had to lay off 20 percent of its work force in Colorado Springs.
and finally
... it’s also time “for President-elect Obama to start acting on the promises he made to the LGBT community during his campaign so that he doesn’t go down in history as another Bill Clinton, a sweet-talking swindler who would throw us under the bus for the sake of political expediency.” And “for LGBT folks to choose their battles wisely, to judge Obama on the content of his policy-making, not on the character of his ministers.”

EVEN Better is the fact that with this vibrant collective new medium of the Internet STONEWALL 2.0 is Alive and Well and can be ReCharged in just minutes!

Posted by: LOrion | Dec 29, 2008 7:18:05 AM

a. mcewen
I mentioned the discussion group disasters on another blog, so maybe that's what you saw. The incident is also on my blog.
What is flaming? It used to be a good thing, but maybe there's a new meaning I haven't heard.
Thanks for the encouraging words. Maybe I'm too sensitive, but the GAY Admins have disagreed with me two or three times, and it took me back thirty years. Unknown to me at the time, I was saying the same things as Larry Kramer, and he also got spanked by the mainstream.

Posted by: WillBFair | Dec 29, 2008 7:18:05 AM

Let's not get overstressed by an inaugural speaker who will be there for a few minutes one day and be gone the next. Instead we need to focus on those who depend on our votes, their staffs and appointees, those who hold our future in their hands.

Posted by: Bill Ware | Dec 29, 2008 9:46:41 AM

Bill: As I've said many times during this Warren fiasco: We can do both. Just because we are concerned with this matter doesn't mean we are losing sight of the million and one other things we hope to achieve.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Dec 29, 2008 9:48:10 AM

Amen, JH, Yes we can.

Posted by: LOrion | Dec 29, 2008 1:01:34 PM

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