Thursday, December 18, 2008

What Gets Their Goat

A New Yorker cartoon has it about right: some elves are sitting at a bar. One says to the other: “What a Christmas. First the North Pole melts and now they’re laying off elves.” Translation: George Bush has wrecked just about everything he’s touched, and many things he hasn’t. Bush and Company created an historic opening for a radical change of course – an opportunity the Democrats fumbled in the primaries. Even so, he made Barack Obama’s election possible, and the economic mess he has made may yet force Obama’s center-right administration to do some semblance of the right thing. But if “progressives” go missing for a change, or if they remain mired in the delusion that is Obamamania, that opportunity too will be lost. The outlook is not promising.

Obama has now all but completed loading up his cabinet with Clintonites – not even new model Clintonites, like we had every right to expect, but the same old, same old. He did it with hardly a peep of protest from “the left.” Thus, in the past few days, a Secretary of Agriculture who is a stooge of agri-business and a Transportation Secretary who is a downstate (Illinois) Republican without a whiff of expertise in transportation, but with a hardy “bipartisan” spirit, were appointed almost without objection. Would it have been worse if Hillary Clinton had won? At least then there’d be a better (less bad) Secretary of State.

But now, finally, Team Obama has gone too far. In choosing the anti-gay, anti-abortion mega-church evangelist Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at Obama’s inaugural, the Obama camp may have finally gotten the goat of the gullible. The problem is not that so-called progressives find it abhorrent that the candidate of change is going along with a tradition, more honorable in the breach than the observance, of entreating the divinity at the start of what ought to be a secular event. It’s just that they don’t like having the invocation of godliness delivered by someone so blatantly right wing. In other words, it’s OK to pander to Sarah Palin’s benighted constituency, the useful idiots of the Republican oligarchs they’re trying to win over – but Warren is just too much.

Thus, for our so-called left, godliness (bad faith) is OK, but not when it is represented by someone so plainly not on the side of the angels. How pathetic is that! Progressives – you’re going to have to do better. Even after George Bush, the force of circumstances can only take us so far.

Here’s a modest proposal: if the divinity must be invoked, then let Jeremiah Wright be the one to do it. He was, after all, Obama’s “spiritual mentor” – until it became politically inconvenient to be associated with someone guilty of uttering so many naked truths. Even our progressives should agree: Better an African American liberation theologian than an exponent of Saddleback stupidity.

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