Thursday, December 18, 2008

What is Obama Thinking?

Has Obama's seeming desire to appease everyone already gone too far? At least many liberals (clearly one of his largest support groups) are beginning to complain that he has.

Warren and Obama


Big Myk said...

Inviting someone like Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Obama's presidential inauguration should come as a surprise to no one. First, the so-called cultural issues like gay marriage, gun control and abortion were never all that important to him, and he never campaigned on them. Let's put it this way: he has bigger fish to fry, like universal health care, energy independence, global warming and a safer world.

Plus, he hates the culture wars. The Republicans have been using the cultural agenda to get support for policies -- like the Bush tax cuts -- that serve only the very rich. Bush and company have convinced conservatives that they should ignore their own economic and social best interests and vote, instead, on Republican "wedge issues." See What's the Matter with Kansas.

This is how Obama's post-partisanship dovetails with his change we can beleive in. By looking less ideological, he can draw support for the big changes he has in mind.

Ted said...

Myk, I agree with you completely. The only issue I see is Warren's strict opposition to gay marriage, at this point both a cultural and political issue, especially with the recent vote in California. In a way doesn't the choice of Warren seem to come off as a real "screw you" to anyone voting against Prop 8? Maybe I am reading too much into it.

james said...

Obama's choice was an obvious political move to pander to cultural conservatives. It struck me as kind of cynical, but whatever. Rick Warren is a grade-A dummy, and I guess politicians have to make moves like this all the time to appeal to more voters.

Also, I want to dispel the entrenched conventional wisdom that Republicans dupe poor people into voting "against their interests." Besides being too vague to be meaningful and condescending to Kansans, the premise is demonstrably false. See "What's the Matter with 'What's the Matter with Kansas'" by Princeton professor Larry Bartels:

James R Harvey said...

Rick Warren may or may not be a grade-A dummy. (For a dummy he certainly has accomplished a lot in the areas of AIDS, poverty, education and global warming.) I would like to believe, as Myk says, that Obama has bigger fish to fry, but I also see a different reason for the choice of Rick Warren.

I think the message that Obama is trying to give is that there are many views on many issues—let's intelligently listen, discuss, and, if we can, find a solution to them.

It is common for us to think that there is a "right" answer to issues, like a math problem. From our Platonic and Christian background, we often believe that if we could just glimpse beyond the shadows on the cave wall, we would be able to see God's or the right answer. I think Obama is trying to promote a bottom up approach rather than a top down one.

He is trying to say we need less "here is the right answer and if you don't see that you are an idiot" and more "those are valid points, but in our current economic, social, and cultural times, I think this would serve better."

Betsy said...

I agree with the latter James (uncle or cousin?). I've heard complaints from the left that Obama is going too far to the center, and just catering to everyone like all other politicians. But, lets be honest, the only way for him to pass anything that will help people is to get moderates on his side. If, say, univerisal health care, is to pass, republicans need to vote for it, and in this climate of crisis the public wants these progressive laws to pass. Republicans know it, and they'll vote that way . . . if they don't feel shoved aside by Obama's administration. Progressives have complained that Republicans under Bush focused way too much on 'moral' issues; now is no time to act like them and take up such issues when there are more important things to do.

james said...

There are indeed many views on many issues, but some views are better than others, and some are flat out wrong. No amount of relativistic wrangling will make reasonable people believe that Warren could be right about creationism. Calling a creationist a "dummy" may not further discussion, but I have the sneaking suspicion that creationists aren't interested in discussing sound arguments anyway.

I will concede that other judgment calls may not rest on such certainty. But I flat out don't believe Warren when he says that Jews will be denied entry into heaven.

And yet, somehow, Warren's selection is considered to be unifying?

Big Myk said...

James, I'm not so sure that your characterization of Warren is completely fair. See Hendrik Hertzberg on Warren: Three Strikes (Strike Two: Pastor Rick) , and, of all people, Melissa Etheridge: The Choice Is Ours Now. Maybe these two are so gaga for Obama that they can't see straight, but maybe not.