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December 19, 2008

Comments

No public figure who has said equivalent things about African-Americans to what Warren has said about gays would be offered this kind of prominence and platform

I think that gets to the heart of it.

Pretty much anyone who has gotten anything constructive done in the political arena has had to work with people they disagreed with. Maybe strongly so. Maybe even people they disliked.

And pretty much anyone who has changed anyone's minds about something as ingrained as the kind of bigotry we see toward gays has had to reach out, really extend themselves, in order to make the other person see what they weren't inclined to see.

So, TLT and others, all good points.

And to cleek and the caveman's points, I have no illusions about Obama, nor do I have extravagant expectations about what he's going to accomplish during his time in office. I'm glad he's there, he'll be a lot better than what we've had.

All of that said.

A couple of weeks after gay people lost the right to marry in the state of California, it will make a lot of people want to go spit to hear Rick Warren give the invocation at Obama's inauguration. And it will, I think, make a lot of gay people, specifically, wonder exactly how much longer they have to wait to be treated like everyone else is treated.

The plain fact of the matter is that Rick Warren will be speaking because at this point in time in the US of A you can stand up on the damned TV and say that gays marrying is equivalent to sexually abusing children or f*cking animals and nobody will call you on it.

So, yeah, the problem is not specifically Rick Warren, but he's not helping matters, either.

Thanks -

"The plain fact of the matter is that Rick Warren will be speaking because at this point in time in the US of A you can stand up on the damned TV and say that gays marrying is equivalent to sexually abusing children or f*cking animals and nobody will call you on it."

Nobody?

TLT and JanieM (and others): thanks for the incredibly thoughtful comments. I really liked JanieM's essay, as well. I think I agree with what most of what both of you have to say, including TLT's Panglossian interpretation.

But, like JanieM, I think there had to be a different way to do this, a different person to ask. Because I think it's asking a lot of gays and lesbians to ask them to just accept this for the greater good.

"Gary had clues, but as far as I know you didn’t."

All it took was moving one's cursor over your broken link, actually, to see the full broken HTML, and then copy the part that wasn't broken.

I started out on this issue in an uncharacteristically moderate position, agreeing with publius, but what's turned me around are the comments by Jes, JanieM, and on another thread deschanel (well, actually, deschanel first and then I saw this thread and it reinforced it).

It boils down to whether it'd be acceptable to have someone who'd led a campaign against interracial marriage give the prayer. The only difference is that the battle for interracial marriage was won decades ago, and has been socially acceptable to most people for quite awhile (I think). So at JFK's inaugural, would it have been okay to have a preacher who was against black civil rights give the prayer, in an attempt to reach out to white conservatives of the day?

I didn't see this at first, probably because of my straightness and also because I used to be a theologically conservative evangelical myself (and yes, this meant anti-gay marriage). I still think hilzoy's point and publius's point and ttl's point about reaching out to moderate evangelicals is a good one, but the principle involved outweighs it. There should be some other way to reach out to the evangelicals.

Brett wrote--

"Your favorite chameleon put a lot of effort into making himself appear everything to everybody during the campaign, but it wasn't just people on the middle he was playing. By the time this is over, you're going to understand that he was playing you, too."

I half-agree with this--I think, for instance that Rev. Wright genuinely believed Obama was on his side on the issues, and that probably wasn't all his own self-delusion. Maybe Obama is like Bill Clinton--someone who really listens to you, and often gives the impression he agrees when he doesn't. But once the campaign started Obama pretty clearly manifested himself as a centrist. If he turns out to be as leftwing as, say, the writers at the NATION have hoped, it's the centrists who've been played, as they will probably point out. But I think he's a centrist and the NATION writers and many other Obama-supporting progressives were just fooling themselves.

Since Donald Johnson brought up Rev. Wright . . .

It's interesting that Obama did not see fit for Rev. Wright, his pastor at the time, to give the invocation at the rally where he announced his candidacy for president of the United States. But he sees no problem with giving an even higher honor to a bigot who wraps himself in the Bible like Warren.

Warren bans gays from attending his church in California, which I just learned from CNN.

I wonder if he would prefer to have them banned from the inaugural.

Well, at least if the gay community protests his presence at the inaugural, we can count on Rev. Rick passing out hot chocolate and donuts.

nd it will, I think, make a lot of gay people, specifically, wonder exactly how much longer they have to wait to be treated like everyone else is treated.

i wonder that too.

but since people are making analogies to interracial marriage, it seems fair to point out that it took a long long long long long long long long time for racial equality to become the law. and even then, look how long we had to wait for a black president.

i agree 100% that it is wrong that gays don't have equal marriage rights. but, frankly, i don't think the country is ready to fix it. there are too many narrow-minded bigots out there still.

no, having Warren speak probably doesn't help that cause (though it may help other causes). but i really don't think it hurts as much as people think - honestly, whose mind will it change, one way or the other ?

Looks like it's been a good week for Rick Warren.

I'm sure he's happy about this.

Barack Obama might call it the audacity of bigotry.

Gary -- ahhh. I didn't realize I had mixed up 2 urls, nor did I then think of a way to see the whole thing. Now I get it. Learn something new every day.

I'll start off by saying that I have a sinking feeling that DJ, preceeded by Jes and JanieM are right. But someone pointed out that this allows Obama to use the construction 'Rick Warren is my good friend, but on this point he is absolutely wrong' jiu-jitsu that I thought was so effective against McCain when Biden used it. I don't believe that this outweighs the problematic nature, but it is a gamble from a position of strength.

I really liked the fact that TLT made some hard predictions and I think we should all think about doing that from time to time as it really grounds our comments.

otoh, Brett's gleeful 'I told you so' song and dance seems more established to cause problems than to enlighten. Perhaps I have no idea where Obama stands or will stand in the future. But I am absolutely positive that wherever he is standing, it is going to be a helluva better place than where this current administration has stood.

"Warren bans gays from attending his church in California"

That's weird, if true. Well, not just weird, but hateful. But also weird, because in my experience an evangelical church would want gays to come. Of course they'd want them to come in hopes of saving them from their lifestyle, as they would put it, but banning them from attending would be, even by conservative evangelical lights, very unchristian.

Yes, DJ, I just heard that on Anderson Cooper's show, where the reporter said that news had "just come out today."

It made Rick Warren, who seems quite smug for a man of the cloth, sink even lower in my eyes.

If I find a link before heading up for bed, I will obviously post it.

Watching Rachel Maddow the past two nights was a little painful in that you could almost feel the hurt she is feeling over this Warren invitation after having so ardently supported Obama in the GE.

I'd say it takes some doing to hurt someone as reasonable and thoughtful as Ms. Maddow seems.

Donald Johnson: I half-agree with this--I think, for instance that Rev. Wright genuinely believed Obama was on his side on the issues, and that probably wasn't all his own self-delusion. Maybe Obama is like Bill Clinton--someone who really listens to you, and often gives the impression he agrees when he doesn't.

This is tricky stuff.

Years ago, in the same decade (more or less) as when I wrote the essay I linked to earlier, I participated in a series of workshops -- kind of like conflict resolution training combined with weekend group therapy.

The exercise that was the starting point for all the work was a listening exercise ... listen for a minute, being as completely present as possible to the other person, feed back what you heard your "partner" say, reverse roles.

(A related core idea came, we were told, from aikido, which I only ever heard about, but never had a chance to practice: there are no opponents, only partners. It is quite amazing how helpful it can be to me even now, 15 years later, to try to reframe an "enemy" as a partner in some kind of dance. Long long story.)

One minute is a long time to listen wholeheartedly, it turns out, even when the content has nothing to do with one's own precious self. The really tricky thing, though, and the biggest barrier to be overcome (for me, anyhow) was the feeling that feeding back and honoring the reality of the other person's feelings was the same thing as agreeing with their opinions.

It's not, necessarily. But your comment made me realize in a new way that our culture, especially our political culture, is so overwhelming oppositional and position-oriented that it is almost hard to imagine interacting at any other level.

So it's not at all hard for me to imagine that Rev. Wright might have thought Obama agreed with his opinions and positions, without Obama ever actually having said he did. Because we're so prone to argue and debate, I think maybe it's too easy to assume that a person who listens carefully and respectfully without disagreeing must -- surely! -- agree.

Conversely, remembering the listening exercise and how my understanding of it evolved, it's not hard to understand that Obama might well have felt a lot of the same things as Rev. Wright, without at all agreeing with his "positions" and opinions about what to do about them.

This is a crucial distinction and a hard one to keep in mind, much less operate from.

Lots to think about.

I'm not doubting it was on the news, btfb. I'm just wondering if the reporter got the story right. I think it would be typical of a theologically conservative evangelical church not to allow a gay person to be a member if they hadn't "repented", for instance, because renouncing what the church sees as a sinful lifestyle would be part of becoming a member, just as they also wouldn't allow single people who are known to be sexually active to be members, but to bar them from even attending services--that's hateful even within the principles of conservative evangelicalism, in my experience anyway. Maybe I only went to "liberal" conservative evangelical churches.

I'm a little puzzled by the idea that Warren's church excludes gays from membership is a new discovery. What else would you have expected, given his statements? Here's the text:

Because membership in a church is an outgrowth of accepting the Lordship and leadership of Jesus in one’s life, someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted at a member at Saddleback Church. That does not mean they cannot attend church – we hope they do! God’s Word has the power to change our lives.

In what way is this new information?

KC: I think this is now "news" in that most people, including myself, did not realize this so-called pastor was such a purveyor of bigotry until President-Elect put such a spotlight on him.

As someone said upthread, Rick Warren is just repackaged hardcore fundamentalism.

Perhaps, in the end, this is a good thing that such purpose-driven hate is now open for discussion.

Bedtime, the exclusion of gays from membership is being treated as new evidence of Warren's horribleness, fresh today. How does it add anything to what we already knew about him yesterday from what he had said about homosexuality?

Like David Corn, I'm mystified that Rachel Maddow was surprised by it. What did she think yesterday that the church's position was? Warren had said that he considers homosexuality a sin like pedophilia or incest. Does she think his church accepts unrepentant practitioners of pedophilia and incest into membership?

I understand why people find the exclusion offensive, just not why they find it surprising when they already know Warren's views.

"Yes, DJ, I just heard that on Anderson Cooper's show, where the reporter said that news had "just come out today."

If I might suggest, when you hear some news on tv, all it takes in the cases of actual news is the time necessary to type three relevant words into Google to get an actual link to actual citable news.

In this case, I typed in "warren" and "bans" and "gays," to get this.

Actual links are endlessly more convincing, at least to me, than hearsay, which frankly I, at least, trust from not more than a couple of handfuls of people. And even then I check for myself. Anything that's actual news is in text, and therefore findable via Google in about five seconds or less.

And people make all sorts of crap claims on tv.

"Yes, DJ, I just heard that on Anderson Cooper's show, where the reporter said that news had "just come out today."

If I might suggest, when you hear some news on tv, all it takes in the cases of actual news is the time necessary to type three relevant words into Google to get an actual link to actual citable news.

In this case, I typed in "warren" and "bans" and "gays," to get this.

Actual links are endlessly more convincing, at least to me, than hearsay, which frankly I, at least, trust from not more than a couple of handfuls of people. And even then I check for myself. Anything that's actual news is in text, and therefore findable via Google in about five seconds or less.

And people make all sorts of crap claims on tv.
"That's weird, if true."

Oh, and as it turns out, it's false.

Warren's church says -- not that I approve, of course! -- that

[...]
someone unwilling to repent of their homosexual lifestyle would not be accepted as a member at Saddleback Church.

That does not mean they cannot attend church -- we hope they do!

This is why it's a really really bad idea to quote half-heard hearsay without bothering to take five seconds to fact-check.

Sorry for the semi-double-post; the internet connection here is being rather erratic at the moment.

ThatLeftTurn: That means the 1st olive branch comes from the winners, not the losers of the recently completed electoral cycle.

An argument that would make a lot more sense if Rick Warren and his hater colleagues hadn't been "winners" in the recently completed electoral cycle. Can you understand that all of us who opposed Prop 8, who lost, and especially those whose marriages have now been thrown into doubt, are the losers. As such, the invitation to Warren feels a lot more like rubbing it in than reconciliation.

As I have stated above: There were better choices than Warren on the evangelical side, i.e people that bring the "good" of Warren (the green stuff) but less of the "bad" (the [anti]pink stuff).
We might differ on whether the olive branch gamble could pay off at all (I have severe doubts) but Warren seems to me the wrong person. The least Obama should do is to include "teh gay thing" in his inaugural speech (btw, is that before or after the invocation?).
Maybe he should also hold a remote control for the mike, when Warren speaks ;-)

That would be pretty cool Hartmut if Obama did indeed give a full-throated endorsement to gay rights and a denouncement of Prop 8.

P.S. Gary: In essence, Warren has banned gays from his church. Reading one of the links on this matter late last night, even one of the former members did not know the extent of his bigotry -- until she found how strongly he supported Prop 8; at which time, she joined the protesters outside the church instead of the worshipers inside. I mean, if you were gay, would you feel comfortable attending bigot Warren's sermons?

Here is the link I mentioned above.

KC: Did you also get the impression that Maddow is holding out hope that Obama will rescind his invitation to America's most famous gay-basher?

but since people are making analogies to interracial marriage, it seems fair to point out that it took a long long long long long long long long time for racial equality to become the law. and even then, look how long we had to wait for a black president.

And since two wrongs make a right, this is relevant!

Yes, Bedtime, she's drawing a parallel to an earlier rescinding of an invitation for Jeremiah Wright. But I don't think that works, since Wright had a much, much lower level of support among the American public than Warren. I'm not happy about the Warren invitation, but now that it's been extended I can't imagine undoing it.

The last thing the gay community needs is to be blamed (it doesn't matter whether the blaming is fair) for derailing another Democratic president's agenda from the start. It certainly would make it less likely that we'll be able to get same-sex marriage in DC, though that's going to be a tricky issue regardless, despite the city council's support for it.

FWIW, I agree; now Obama's extended the invitation to Warren, he won't be able to rescind it. I'd like to think that he's learned from this mistake, but I doubt he even sees it as a mistake; insulting and offending LGBT people has always been a good political move in the US.

Of course, Warren could come out with this statement next week: "I am honored that President-Elect Obama invited me to his inauguration. However, I do not want my presence there to overshadow such a historic event. Therefore, with an open heart and much gratitude, I respectfully ask that he not request my attendance."

Or something like that.

Another group of people to whom the choice of Warren to give the inaugural invocation is a real slap in the face is actual moderate and progressive ministers.

Pastordan is a politically savvy liberal minister who's willing to be much more frank about Rick Warren than many secular liberals who reflexively cringe preemptively from charges of 'liberals hate God'.

If Obama genuinely personally likes Rick Warren and thinks highly of his ministry, then our President-elect is just not as smart and thoughtful as he's seemed; Warren's revealed himself as a shallow, slick, huckster to far less brilliant people.

If Obama's doing this as a political move, then it's as fakey and ham-handed as the choice of Brooks & Dunn's 'Only in America' for the end-of-convention-speech (a choice for which I'd previously held others in the campaign responsible), with bonus endorsing-hatred-and-contempt points.

TLT and JanieM (and others): thanks for the incredibly thoughtful comments.

I don't usually post just to say "Yeah, me too", but yeah, me too. What hilzoy said.

Thanks -

After much thought on the Warren invite, I have come to my own personal conclusion (tentative, but I'm standing by it for now):

History may judge the Warren invocation (and, perhaps, other future disappointments from Pres. Obama, viz. LGBT rights) along the lines of "He (Obama) Was a Product Of His Times," à la Lincoln or FDR or Jefferson. Or all presidents, really.

To wit: Jefferson owned slaves. FDR detained my Japanese-American relatives without cause or legal restitution, based on racism and fear mongering. Lincoln is famously quoted as saying "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it." And no U.S. president has ever been a friend to the original inhabitants of this continent. To say the least.

These are all deeply hurtful things. I understand those who repudiate these men as immoral, unethical, and/or unforgivably cynical. This country, no matter how much I love it, is based on compromise and a painfully slow whittling away at bigotry. John "Alien and Sedition Act" Adams is a beloved founding father, while Thomas "Rights Of Man" Paine died alone, in obscurity, and was later burned in effigy by Teddy Roosevelt*. In other words, untempered idealism has never been a successful political strategy in the U.S.A.

Can we fully condemn these past presidents, however? Lincoln did free the slaves, after all**. FDR saved the world from imperial fascism and ended the depression***. Jefferson wrote th' frickin' Declaration of Independence. These are all Good Things, imho.

So, while the Warren invite seems tremendously tone-deaf on Obama's part, it's starting to feel like just another politically motivated "cultural" compromise from a politician who is a product of their era. No front-running presidential candidate spoke out for marriage equality. The official stated positions on civil unions from Senators McCain, Clinton, Obama, and Biden were remarkably identical. We have to realize that the president has to be pushed to accept the future ethical consensus. Would LBJ have signed the Civil Rights Act without a popular movement? I think not.

It is only through this historical perspective that I can (kind of) accept the idea of Warren being invited to perform the invocation****. If Obama makes good on his reiterated "fierce advoca[cy] for equality for gay and lesbian Americans" through policy action (i.e., DOMA, DADT, etc. etc.) the Warren imbroligio can be (mostly) forgiven. But if it turns out to be another indicator of Obama's less-than-responsible position on true civil equality . . . well . . . maybe I can chalk it up to just another embarrassment in a long, long list of travesties this country has inflicted on the underprivileged, the downtrodden, and the oppressed.

Does this make any sense to anyone?

N.B.: I am not saying that I think that Obama is against LGBT rights: his record speaks pretty strongly in his favor. However, I suggest that it doesn't matter what he actually believes - what matters is what he believes is politically possible.

*True!
**Never mind the actual historical debate. I'm talking narratives.
***Id.
****Don't get me started on having an official prayer in the first place. ("Unconstitutional endorsement of theism" anyone?)

Watching Rachel Maddow the past two nights was a little painful in that you could almost feel the hurt she is feeling over this Warren invitation after having so ardently supported Obama in the GE

That was pretty raw TV, and it really makes me wish Obama had tried to make the case to his peeps before announcing Warren, assuming anybody would've been receptive to his logic, and also assuming his logic is what his defenders think it is.

But y'know, I think this might dovetail with what cleek was saying before about liberals projecting onto Obama--Maddow didn't support him "ardently." She supported the Dem nominee, and she's been consistent in her cautious optimism, heavy emphasis on the modifier. Actually, she's the only talking head I can think of who's really evinced skepticism at all, but my sample size is, like, her and a couple guys I saw on TV that one time. Her whole thing was dread of a drawn-out, bruising primary (which actually worked out wonderfully for us, but I don't know of anyone who saw that coming), and she was banging that drum long before the "it's mathematically impossible for Clinton to win" stuff kicked in.

Not trying to bang on whoever I just quoted (I don't even know who it was, because that was pages ago! May I suggest obwi.blogspot.com for future comment-magnet posts?), but I've seen her get pegged as an Obama fangirl by lots of lefties, and she never was.

Anyway, about the subject at hand, I've got an opinion about Warren's invite that is thoughtful, nuanced, and guaranteed to break the impasse and bring us all together in the spirit of harmony, and I shall express it just as soon as I shoo my cat away from the ethernet cable that connects to the DSL mo

"while Thomas "Rights Of Man" Paine died alone, in obscurity, and was later burned in effigy by Teddy Roosevelt*"

The first is true, of course. The second, I'd like to see a cite on, if you have one, please. TR famously called Paine a "filthy little atheist," and Paine was famously hanged in effigy by a bunch of people, but by TR? I can believe it, but I'd really like to see a cite before I do. Googling either "Theodore Roosevelt," and "effigy" and "paine" or the latter two and "teddy" and "roosevelt" doesn't turn up any such assertion on the first few pages.

Thanks! (I'm just curious.)

"...and it really makes me wish Obama had tried to make the case to his peeps before announcing Warren,"

Um, how would that work? You explain something without telling people? How do you make the case for a person without mentioning the person, and keeping which person you're talking about a secret?

"future comment-magnet posts"

That's most of them. I've been suggesting for a year or two, and particularly in the last half a year, that ObWi drop the incredibly broken Typepad, and switch to the perfectly fine free Blogger/Blogspot -- or any other blogging software that is less broken, but none of the frontpagers has ever responded to the suggestion. It is, to be sure, some work to make the switch and choose a template and so forth. But, good $DEITY, Typepad is ridiculously annoying in so many ways.

I miss the days when one could simulate a dial-up drop by ap-34po"ima%ard NO CONNECTION

Just one thing: why are we only talking about Warren's bigotry?
The man is a little more multi-dimensional than that: he's a bigot who cares about the poor, the sick and the planet and who has done practical things about it (giving 90 of his income to charity, well, not everybody I know achieves that). None of this means that he should not be criticized, but the culture war issues are really not the only ones he is about or the only ones we should care about.
Anybody reading the blogs at the moment would think Warren was the biggest problem facing the US.
What about the recession, the war in Iraq, the crumbling infrastructure, the homeless and the hungry? Seriously, if Warren were our biggest problem, there'd be dancing in the streets.

he's a bigot who cares about the poor, the sick and the planet and who has done practical things about it

Like supporting the global gag rule, which prevents some of the poorest women in the world from accessing family planning and from getting decent health care?

Like supporting Bush's pro-abstinence anti-condom "AIDs programs" in Africa, which have the net effect of ensuring more of the poorest people in the world become HIV+?

I'd say that kind of work is just another facet of his bigotry.

Warren is a mendacious homophobic anti-choice,anti-stem cell research preacher who supports torture. And he's getting a place of honor as a spiritual leader at Obama's inauguration. Don't think I'll watch that after all.

Add to that the fact that so far Obama's cabinet looks to come out with a lower percentage of women than the second Bush's did.

So he lacks some moral imagination and he's been outmanoeuvred by Warren. Not good news, despite other pieces of information.

He has a young man's lack of seasoned judgment, and that's what a lot of us feared.

"Add to that the fact that so far Obama's cabinet looks to come out with a lower percentage of women than the second Bush's did."

Obama's cabinet:

White males, as they were in Bill Clinton's first Cabinet, will find themselves again in the minority in the Obama regime. Of the 20 Cabinet-level positions, nine are to be filled by white men, two by white women (Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano), two by Asian Americans (Gen. Eric K. Shinseki and Steven Chu), three by Latinos (New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Ken Salazar and Solis), and four by African Americans (Eric H. Holder Jr., Susan E. Rice, Lisa P. Jackson and Kirk.)
It's only five women out of 20 people, and that's hardly parity, so noting that is an entirely valid criticism.

Except that, in fact, George W. Bush nominated three women in 2001: Gale Norton, Elaine Chao, and Ann Veneman. His other female appointees didn't come along until 2005/6. Bush, in fact, nominated a lower percentage of women in his first term than Obama has now named.

George W. Bush had eight years worth of choices. Obama hasn't even had his first set of choices agreed to by Congress; actual equivalency of simple numbers -- if that's the best metric -- can only come eight years from now, after the inevitable turnover (and assuming there's a second term).

Also, the argument that Bush's cabinet was better than Obama's picks because of the presence of Elaine Chao, Margaret Spellings, Gale A. Norton, Ann M. Veneman, Mary Peters (who doesn't remember Mary Peters?!) and that we all benefited from the sterling successes of Condoleeza Rice strikes me as an argument that could use fleshing out. A lot of fleshing out.

"So ...and he's been outmanoeuvred by Warren"

I'm unclear how one can objectively judge that until enough time has passed for his stated reasons to either come about or not. Everyone's entitled to an opinion in advance of actual fact, of course, but it's perhaps helpful to not state predictions of the future as if they're fact.

"Unconstitutional endorsement of theism" anyone?

Thanks, but I couldn't possibly. I'm stuffed. (pats belly)

Um, how would that work? You explain something without telling people? How do you make the case for a person without mentioning the person, and keeping which person you're talking about a secret?

Hell, I dunno. I was just seconding the hurt-by-proxy of seeing Rachel Maddow's obvious pain, not proposing anything. I liked the way he opened his presser, and it probably would've helped to say that stuff as a way of introducing Warren as his choice; that way it wouldn't've come off as a politically expedient apology, and it might've given defenders like publius, Cole, and the editors something a little more substantial to point to when they speculate as to his long-term goal.

And what's with this "secret" business? Is who gives the invocation supposed to be a big third-act reveal or something? (I don't really care, I've just always wanted to hit Gary with a "cite please")

So he lacks some moral imagination and he's been outmanoeuvred by Warren.

Assumes outcome not in evidence. I'm pretty firmly in the "this sucks" camp, but boy, people on my side sure do seem to mistake their own prognostications for facts.

Damn, now it looks like I'm ganging up on somebody. I blame unreadable verification boxes that must be refreshed over and over until I get a series of characters that doesn't include "g" or "q," because no matter which one I go with, I'm ALWAYS WRONG.

Once more unto the breach...

"I liked the way he opened his presser, and it probably would've helped to say that stuff as a way of introducing Warren as his choice"

Oh, you meant just a minute or five before; okay -- I misunderstood, and thought you meant that there should have been a couple of days or more of public prep work, and thus was confused.

The thing is, however wrong a choice it was -- and I think it was -- obviously Obama didn't choose Warren because he wanted to send a message to the GLTB community, and obviously he wasn't endorsing Warren's views that he disagrees with. As he stated, he asked Warren because he wanted to demonstrate that you can talk to people you disagree with. Now, I, ahem, disagree with his choice there -- but given his rationale, coming out upfront with something defensive would have been rather counter-productive, I'm inclined to think -- and I'm not at all sure it would have made much difference, given that his explanation has made not so much difference to most objectors to his choice. Still, not an unreasonable thought, to be sure.

"And what's with this 'secret' business?"

I just misunderstood you: sorry.

Still, not an unreasonable thought, to be sure.

Uh, yyyyeah, about that...

I just hear Bob Shrum on the radio say just what I said, practically verbatim.

Obviously, I'm gonna have to retract my statement. And schedule a brain scan.

I loathe Rick Warren, but even I am unwilling to characterize him as an apologist for torture. He's an apologist for actions undertaken by the Bush administration, which he tries to weasel out of calling torture, and he never opened his mouth to object directly to any member of the administration about their policy of torture.

But he is a founding member of the National Religious Coalition Against Torture. He's just never done anything but join up to live out his professed beliefs.

He's a politician, of the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too school. Just like some other, slimmer politicians I could mention.

small hint on the verification boxes, I find that if I look at the box so that I am looking at a downward angle rather than an upward angle, it makes the characters easier to read.

"Paine was famously hanged in effigy by a bunch of people, but by TR?"

I cannot give a cite to the internets, but I read this claim in The Trouble With Tom: The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine by Paul Collins. [Alas, I lent the book to my sister, so I can't give a page number right now, but I'm (almost!) certain that it's in there.] An absolutely fabulous book, by the way: highly recommended.

So he lacks some moral imagination and he's been outmanoeuvred by Warren.

Assumes outcome not in evidence. I'm pretty firmly in the "this sucks" camp, but boy, people on my side sure do seem to mistake their own prognostications for facts.

It's interesting that some people have taken my comment as a statement about what will happen. It isn't. A mendacious person who counts some of our people as equivalent to pedophiles and/or as actual baby murderers is getting a prime position at the inauguration in the name of civility. There is no civil expression of such views and approaches, and anyone who presents himself as seeking such has fooled those who believe him.

even I am unwilling to characterize him as an apologist for torture. He's an apologist for actions undertaken by the Bush administration, which he tries to weasel out of calling torture, and he never opened his mouth to object directly to any member of the administration about their policy of torture.

Just so: this is Bush and Cheney's defense. I'm surprised someone today would say "O, he doesn't support torture, he just redescribes it and supports those who do the redescribed stuff." Huh?

@feminist philosopher:

I thought I was making the extent of Warren's hypocrisy on torture clear in my comment.

He's simultaneously a nominal* opponent of torture and an apologist for Bush's treatment of prisoners, which he declines to name as torture, has done nothing to protest, and still will not even judge as morally wrong.

Clearly, one can't actually hold both those positions.

*It looks as if Warren's actual anti-torture activities begin and end with joining in the formation of the National Religious Coalition Against Torture. If so, then I'd be comfortable with describing him as an apologist for torture is correct.

I'd be interested to know Warren's ever enlisted the members of the Saddleback congregation in any of the NRCAT's activities since its founding. Did they hang a 'Torture is Wrong' banner in any of the last three years? Given the size of the congregation, that would have sent a pretty powerful message. Or it would, unless the members share Warren's apparent opinion that torture is wrong but what the Bush administration ordered and had carried out isn't torture...

Thanks, feminist philosopher, for making me look more closely at Warren's actual history on the issue. Now I'm even more furious about the invocation than I was before.

As a body, the NRCAT board should demand some concrete action from Warren. He wouldn't get credit for anti-poverty activism if he'd simply signed the letter to Bush in 2005 that got him labeled as a "moderate".

Speaking of that letter: Funny how Warren and the other signers waited until Bush's approval rating went to 35% to send that message. You'd almost think it was political advice to the Republicans to come up with a figleaf of compassion, or an effort to repackage his profitable tax-free "purpose-driven" franchise and distance it from the suddenly unpopular president, rather than a genuine call of conscience...

He's a politician who grasped the political significance of the Schiavo spectacle, and positioned himself to take advantage of whichever way the winds blow.

"I cannot give a cite to the internets, but I read this claim in The Trouble With Tom: The Strange Afterlife and Times of Thomas Paine by Paul Collins."

Do you remember anything about what the alleged circumstances were? As I said, I'm curious. For one thing, while it was not uncommon for Paine to be hung in effigy during his lifetime, and at the time of his death, it's not my impression that there's been much enthusiasm for it by the time of the end of the 19th century or later. Also, I'm just curious as to what the circumstances might have been for TR to have done such a thing.

Thanks for any further info.

"It's interesting that some people have taken my comment as a statement about what will happen. It isn't."

"...and he's been outmanoeuvred by Warren."

If that isn't, what's your contemporary proof of your statement, please?

I haven't been able to find a transcript of the August 2008 appearance of candidates Obama and McCain at Warren's Saddleback Church, and maybe one doesn't exist. But as far as I can tell from reading coverage of it, there was not a single question about the policy of torture.

Leading up to the event all the coverage predicted that the questions wouldn't just focus on the familiar culture-war issues, but would include poverty and environmentalism and other issues of presumed concern for self-styled moderate evangelicals. They were to be chosen by a panel of people that didn't include Warren.

Come the event, almost nothing of the kind, same old abortion / gay marriage hot buttons -- and questioning by Rick Warren in a not particularly bridging-divides way.

Since I mentioned Warren's reading of the non-resonance of the Schiavo freakshow with the general public, I looked up what he was saying at the time -- and came across such ugly smears that it would be difficult to forgive him if he apologized for them (which he has never done).

"I haven't been able to find a transcript of the August 2008 appearance of candidates Obama and McCain at Warren's Saddleback Church, and maybe one doesn't exist."

I just put "obama" and "mccain" and "Saddleback ranch" into Google, and the video and a promised transcript are the second entry. Unfortunately, while the video is there, the transcript link is a 404.

But here is a transcript, Nell.

Such a public campaign event is always going to have transcripts available on the web.

There was one mention of torture by both Obama and McCain.

McCain's came in response to this question:

Could you give me an example of where you led against your party’s interest ... and really maybe against your own best interest, for the good of America?
McCain:
McCain: You know by a strange coincidence I was not elected Miss Congeniality in the United States Senate this year. I don’t know why. ... I don’t know why.

Climate change, out of control spending, torture. The list goes on — on a large number of issues — that I’ve put my country first and I’ve reached across the aisle.

And more to his reply not mentioning torture.

Obama's mention came in response to this question:

[18] Warren: Religious persecution — what do you think the US should do to end religious persecution? For instance, in China, in Iraq and in many of our supposed allies? I’m not just talking about persecution of Christianity particularly, with the persecution around the world that persecutes millions of people.
Obama's response:
Obama: Well, I think the first thing we have to do is to bear witness and speak out and not pretend that it’s not taking place.

You know our relationship with China, for example, is a very complicated one. You know, we’re trading partners. Unfortunately, they are now lenders to us because we haven’t been taking care of our economy the way we need to be.

I don’t think any of us want to see military conflict with China; so we want to manage this relationship and move them into the world community as a full partner, but we can’t purchase that by ignoring the very real ... persecutions that are taking place. And so having administration that’s speaking out, joining in international forums where we can point out human rights abuses and the absence of religious freedom, that, I think, is absolutely critical.

Over time, what we are doing is setting up new norms and creating a universal principle that people’s faith and people’s beliefs have to be protected. And, as you said, it’s not just Christians.

We’ve got to make sure — you know, one thing that I think is very important for us to do on all these issues is to lead by example. That’s why I think it’s so important for us to have religious tolerance here in the United States. That’s why it’s so important for us when we are criticizing other countries, about rule of law, to make sure that we’re abiding by rule of law and habeas corpus and we’re not engaging in torture, because that gives us a moral standard to talk about these other issues.

Thank you for finding the transcript, Gary. I got that same 404 and gave up.

So it seems that no questions about torture were asked, and the only mention made was by the candidates themselves as illustrations of other points.

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