Rick Warren: Why is anybody surprised?


Credit my Phoenix colleagues Deirdre Fulton and Jeff Inglis with great timing. "Take Back Barack," which contends that progressives should "reclaim the man [they] put in the White House," appeared the same week that Barack Obama disappointed said progressives by tapping Rick Warren--whose views on gays and lesbians are problematic, to say the least--to give the invocation at his inauguration.

But here's my question: Why, exactly, is anybody surprised that Obama's giving a prime slot to Warren? For that matter, why is anybody surprised that Obama is poised to govern as a centrist Democrat?

First point first. By agreeing to appear with John McCain at Warren's California megachurch earlier this year, Obama signalled that he didn't find Warren's views too objectionable--or at least, not objectionable enough to trump Warren's possible political utility.

As for the notion that Obama owes progressives more than he's given them.... Here, I've got to respectfully disagree with Deirdre and Jeff. After all, Obama didn't really campaign as a progressive. He campaigned, instead, much the same way he burst on the national political scene back in '04--as a would-be unifier whose own biography epitomized his aspirations for the nation.

Obama's charisma--and his reliance on the notion of "Change," which can mean whatever you want it to--convinced plenty of people, on both the right and the left, that he wasn't really a moderate Democrat. Substantively, though, that's how he sold himself. And sure enough, that's what he seems to be.

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