The longer I ponder a response to Barack Obama's invitation of Rick Warren to give the invocation at the Inauguration, the less likely I'll be to finish it. So here's the nub.
An aside to Mr. Obama:
We know you're not a liberal, but a lot of liberals, labor people, environmentalists, feminists and others supported you because you had the organizational chops and charisma to beat the Republican. Oh, and let's not forget The Gays, who are pretty hopping mad at you right now and have been since the election. Together, we will be a part of your Big Tent: either as invited guests or a burr in your saddle. Turn on us and we'll turn on you. And so will the Obama Kids: there's nothing they hate more than a hypocrite. Inviting that bigot Rick Warren is a slap in the face. Just because he's got his head screwed on straight for a few issues of human decency doesn't give him carte blanche to go after gay people like me, sick people who need stem cell research, anyone who wants to decide about their own reproduction or even the president of Iran.
An aside to the liberals, labor people, environmentalists, feminists and others, including The Gays:
Barack Obama isn't a liberal; rather, the world dodged a bullet by not having a McCain-Palin administration. He will only live up to his change rhetoric if he's held to it. Inclusion isn't dependent on the next president's character -- the old Unitarian canard -- but the power people bring or withhold from him. The last eight years of presidential unresponsiveness shouldn't keep us from being organized, visible and loud. We need to be everywhere. More about the tactics later. For now, one word: solidarity. I do not expect non-gay liberals to pat me on the head and say I'm sorry you're so upset. I expect them to be angry and vocal. And I'll be there for the gag rule, card check, transit funding, and other issues that need to be reversed or improved. The Right expects us to stay apart.
A last point:
To remind y'all, my thrift shtick isn't because I'm some tightwad. I plan to have money in the bank when the call comes: for political contributions, for issue campaigns, for legal defense funds. Stay vigilant.
And I have good reasons. And thoughts about the various responses in the Left.
While I'm consigning them to words, go over to Open Left and follow Matt Stoller's last few post on the subject. (Disclosure: I know him professionally.)
Nobody had to tell me to go to the White House last night. Like many Washingtonians, around 11:30 pm, I just knew that's where I needed to be, despite the chill and drizzle. Thousands showed up: a jubilant, if rowdy, group. Lots of chanting and car horn honking. You may have seen the videos or photos.
But I couldn't be happy. Relieved that President Bush is on his way out and that there would be neither a President McCain or Vice President Palin to replace him. But no real joy. I must have looked a match to the chill and drizzle because I made the mistake of checking on the California Prop 8 outcome before leaving the house.
Now, I have supported President-elect Obama since the primaries. Bill Clinton was terrible on gay legislation -- I couldn't expect any better from his partner in politics -- and the Republicans are beyond the pale. But the fact that Obama made a religious virtue of opposing same-sex marriage and promoted a second-class civil union meant that I could not celebrate him like so many others. Need anyone be reminded that his parents' marriage was illegal in many states at the time of his birth?
So I made this bargain with myself: support him to the election, but be a careful critic on this and any other matter of policy that I think falls below his own values, or the welfare of the nation. (I think his strategy of never speaking constructively of the poor is another failure.)
I can't do much about California, or the Mormons (save avoiding Utah) or the Knights of Columbus, but I can join in league with other Americans to put pressure on the President and the Congress. So I shall. If you'll excuse the phrase, he gets no honeymoon from me.
Liberals need to press hard. The real work begins now.
I mean that in the literal, physical sense. Hubby and I were out on lower Connecticut Avenue tonight -- he needed clothes and we both needed some Malaysian food -- to see a press crew avec satellite truck outside the Mayflower Hotel: site of one Universalist General Convention, our domestic partnership celebration brunch and at least one recent scandal.
About the media, I opined: "Another New York governor caught with his pants down?"
No, it seems Senator Obama was there. So that's the closest I know I've been to him. Though with the surreal tack the McCain campaign is taking, I suspect early next year he'll be living in that big white house around the corner. Can't wait for the debate/interview in Mississippi.
I check in once a day at fivethirtyeight.com for the newest poll tracking, which you might like, too. Oh, and we have Internet connectivity at home so the blog is back.
But moving has taken more of an effort than I thought, and Verizon has failed to get our DSL transferred. So it's writing from a coffee shop for the time being.
Feel free to add your thoughts to the desert island book list, or comment here about what you make of the McCain debate demurral, and Obama's response, which may vary from my sense. (I think it makes McCain look desperate and vague, and I can't see how it really him.)
I think Andrew Sullivan's writer is right, and not just about the netroots. So long as Obama supporters give more heart- and mind-space to the Republican ticket, and especially Sarah Palin, the less room there is to make a solid, thoughtful and reasoned case for the Obama-Biden ticket. And we don't have those resources to give away.
The more space they fill in our consciousness, the more said about the Republican candidates the less they need to defend themselves, or even make their own case. We make our own fear by focusing on the Republican candidates, even if the intent is their deprecation. Jokes about McCain's shrugging posture or -- well -- everything non-political about Palin is a missed opportunity to talk about the problems the nation has, and how a Democratic administration can help fix them. And it says less about Democrats in the process. I will not sink to the hooting, chanting, booing depths I saw at the Republican convention.
Or say you're not keen on Obama or Biden. Let me suggest the "reality television" tack of the post-Convention campaign should make you desire a more dignified campaign. Months ago, when there were several candidates on both sides, a colleague asked me which race I would want to see. Obama v. McCain I said, because I thought it would be more dignified. It hasn't been dignified. But both left and right, the indignity comes in response to the Republican ticket, leaving McCain and Palin rather above it all. And not answering substantive questions.
For one, I'm glad the Obama-Biden campaign is going to toughen its tack. You get no points from me for losing nicely, at least not when the outcome is so crucial. But their supporters need to be tougher, too.
My response: to talk up the Democratic ticket. To respond to the Obama-Biden campaign. To ask tough question of the McCain-Palin ticket, even if the mainstream media is cowed into softball reporting.
I don't my little blog to sway the hearts and minds of a nation, but
- it will keep me from needless despair and defeatism, and
- if enough of us -- millions, I think -- refuse to get caught in a warped sense of reality, and stay very cool and cagy, then we can participate in the election of a Democratic ticket in November.
This Tuesday, District of Columbia Democratic, Republican and Statehood Green Party registered voters go to the polls in the congressional and council primary. Given how overwhelmingly Democratic the District is, several of our local races will be effectively decided then. (I'm supporting Cary Silverman, the challenger, for the Democratic Ward 2 council seat nomination.)
But this is the part I love: we vote for members of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic State Committee, too. The candidates are identified by slate, called respectively
- Obama's Ward One Democrats
- Ward 3 Dems for Obama and Change
Do you note a theme?
join me in contributing to the Obama-Biden campaign. I made another direct donation and thought "Why not promote it through the blog?"
If you can spare a few dollars -- or more than a few -- please give here.