Tuesday, December 23, 2008
With all of the hand wringing among Obama supporters about the selection of Rick Warren, I believe the commentators have missed something important. One thing we know about Obama -- he strongly believes in symbolic actions to make people who oppose his policy positions feel included and respected. That, I believe, is what the selection of Rick Warren is all about.
This shows two things about Obama. First, he is willing, on a symbolic level, to go where other liberals are unwilling. Obviously, the critics would never have invited anyone like Rick Warren.
Second, Obama may be able politically to build a broader coalition than traditional liberals could. Evangelicals, who have been used to being treated with extreme disrespect by liberals, may come to embrace Obama for this purely symbolic treatment. This may expand his support, taking voters who are naturally supporters of the Republicans.
In the end, I doubt that Obama will compromise his political principles to such considerations. Thus, Obama will, despite his claims to the contrary, support gay marriage. But he will claim to respect its opponents and they may feel respected.