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The story goes that Mao Zedong (a man whom I loathe deeply, but admit was good at the occasional bon mot) was once asked about the historic implications of the French Revolution.  He responded "It's too soon to tell."

In other words, a wise man should remember that past events, no matter how distant, will always be viewed from the lens of the present.

What are the historical ramifications of Rick Warren at the inauguration?  In this case, we've taken to viewing the events of the future through the lens of the present, and pretending it is the past.  It's preposterous, meaningless, and indicative of a larger problem that has nothing to do with the French Revolution, Mao, or Rick Warren.

Today is the day I lost my Trusted User status, I noticed.  Other than the month my first spent in the NICU, I think it's the first time I haven't been a TU since they invented TUs.  Unlike that time, it wasn't events, but choice, that has kept me from participating in the debates here.

The debates here since the election have been largely silly and very meaningless.  Rick Warren is no more indicative about how Obama's administration is going to deal with the very real and pressing needs of the LGBT community than the participation of the Marine Corps marching band.  Daily Kos is not going to pick Obama's cabinet.  Obama is.  We elected him to do that, you can't go second-guessing the guy you elected before he's even in office.

What it boils down to is this: The election of Obama has put the netroots in a real crisis.  Since the inception of Daily Kos, we have been an oppositional movement.  And the progress that the Democratic party made over the past few elections was a result of many of the philosophies behind the netroots, that began with the Dean campaign.

I see the flailing over Rick Warren as the latest incarnation of this identity crisis.  As an oppositional force, the netroots did a good job of making mountains out of what were often, retrospectively, molehills of the Bush regime.  Certainly, there was a lot of bad shit that happened, and we kept those stories alive, torture, civil liberties violations, Iraq, Katrina, etc.  But we found the little stories and made them big, and we found the little guys and gals who were doing the right thing, and we promoted them.

And now, instead of doing some serious introspective thought about how the netroots can play the role in the repair of a nation and a world destroyed by eight years of neglect, contempt, and aggression, here we are bitching about the secretary of agriculture and who gets to pray at the inauguration.

Instead of thoughtful policy positions, suggestions for areas of reform, ideas about how to save the government money in some areas so that we can spend it in other areas to get the economy on its feet, we're pretending that Barack Obama has suddenly turned into Bush III.

This is not to say that we should begin behaving as the nutroots did during their run in power.  Mindless sycophancy and lockstep behavior is worse than knee-jerk reactions and manufactured (or even genuine) hysteria over day-to-day governance.  Clearly, we are in a better position than the right wing.  We are now in power, and in a place to learn from their mistakes.

And I'm not going to say that gay people, and friends of gay people (which I would include myself) shouldn't be pissed about Rick Warren playing a role on January 20th.  I think it's stupid, it may turn out to be brilliant, which is what I often found myself thinking during the election.  Hell, if you ask me, I think it's stupid to have an invocation at all.  Why not just have someone read the closing to Lincoln's Second Inaugural instead of a prayer?

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

Isn't that what we should all be doing?  Fixing this broke down heap that Bush left us?  Trying to do what we believe is right, but recognizing that we may be wrong, and, in case we are wrong, simply acting with malice towards none and charity towards all?

I am fully aware of the meta quality of this diary, the fact that I could be on Daily Kos writing serious stuff about East Asia, which is what I know the most about, I'm ranting about the behavior of the netroots.  But frankly, I think it is serious time for meditation about how we can best help Barack Obama get this country back on its feet.

We do have a seat at the table, if we can convince ourselves to behave like an informed participant.  Rick Warren sucks, of course.  And it's too bad that he's giving a prayer, or whatever, at the inauguration.

What is the significance of Rick Warren giving a prayer?

Maybe it's that we realize it's just Rick Warren doing what he always does, so whatever.  We need to do what we do best - look for the little things that we can fix as a country, giving them a spotlight, and making intelligent suggestions.  Maybe, instead of talking about Rick Warren, we could be offering suggestions for Obama about how to make the country better and more equal for our LGBT friends and family.  There are lots of little policy molehills that need to be made into mountains.  Rick Warren can stay a molehill, for all I care.

I don't want us to lose this powerful tool we have because we refuse to take it seriously.

Originally posted to zenbowl on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 10:57 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  falme if you must (20+ / 0-)

    tip if you care.  Thanks for reading the whole thing.

    Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds. Buddha

    by zenbowl on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 10:58:28 AM PST

    •  The only potential (6+ / 0-)

      crisis facing the netroots in light of O's victory is that it would become a mouthpiece for Obama rather than a voice for progressivism.

      I'm overall encouraged by the furor over Warren--however short-lived.

      And it will be short-lived. I'm amused by the reaction of the Obama hardcore to all the criticism. Many are threatening to leave this site just because there's been a string of harsh diaries, when precedence and common sense tell us that we'll be onto a new issue in a few days, Obama will do some good things, and people will here be cheering. Cheering, I hope, with our eyes open.

      •  I'm not leaving the site (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        david mizner, Happy Days

        or threatening to leave.  I've taken breaks from here as time to time, but I'm a lifetime member.

        Of course the furor will be short-lived, all furors here are short-lived.  And that's the real problem.  How can we be a voice for true progressivism if we acknowledge that our attention span is only a week long.  All of the successes of the netroots have been sustained efforts.

        I think I state pretty clearly that I don't want to devolve into the rah-rah cheerleading that defined the right-wing nutosphere over the past six years.  But neither do I see the current course as productive.

        Anyway, thanks for reading the whole thing, David.  I always respect your opinion.

        Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds. Buddha

        by zenbowl on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 11:14:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  A little mojo for you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      From someone who also lost TU status recently--though I've not been nearly as much a longtime holder as you, and my loss was due more to not having the time to hang out of late.

      I've found myself racking my brain, trying to remember anyone who ever gave an inaugural prayer, since obviously Reverend Saddleback isn't the first.  But I can't remember anybody, seriously.  So I do tend to think it's a lot of hoopla, though I totally understand why people are angry and don't blame them.

      I'm still pretty annoyed at Obama's FISA vote some months back, though I'm about eighty percent over it....

    •  Actually, it was Zhou Enlai, not Mao (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zenbowl, Lochbihler, classico

      Here is one of many corrobrating links, this one courtesy of the BBC.

      Your overall point is certainly worth articulating, though. Methinks that Obama beieves that it is better to try to engage incorrigibly hostile opponents in dialogue rather than simply to try to crush them, whether they be medieval, oogedy-boogedy bigots like Rick Warren, or even James Dobson, on the one hand, or foreign wackos, like Iran's Ahmadinejad, on the other.

      Obama just might be right.

      •  If it's Zhou (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        than I'm happier.  Thanks for your comment.

        Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds. Buddha

        by zenbowl on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 11:33:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed, Barack needs to be President of ALL (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        the citizenry.

        Why don't we see what he does once he takes office, and until then lay off a bit on our own agendas, however worthy they may be.  And recognize that genuine compromises always leave all parties satisfied, but still a little upset that they did not receive what they wanted

        Kudos on catching the misquote, FMArouet!

  •  I agree to an extent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    However, the symbolism of Warren delivering the invocation is plain old awful. Aside from his position on Prop 8, which is a whole story in itself, Warren is a man who has aggressively inserted himself into the political sphere and who has been a consistent apologist for the worst excesses of the Bush administration. By inviting him to participate in the inaugural ceremony, Obama has effectively anointed Warren as "America's pastor". This is a problem.

    The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake

    by beltane on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 11:13:22 AM PST

    •  America's pastor, really? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      casperr, beltane, classico, publicv

      Unless he knows some good koans, he's not my or my nation's Zen teacher.  Unless he knows Hebrew, he's not the nation's rabbi.  Unless he speaks Arabic, he's not the nation's imam.  Unless he rejects religion as unnecessary he's not the nations' agnostic and atheistic leader.  

      Really, I have no idea who has prayed at previous inaugurations.

      I agree that the symbolism isn't great, but how many people give a shit about who gets to give a prayer at the inauguration?  If there's a place where you can throw the right wing a bone, let's make it in prayer, and not in policy.  Prayer isn't a problem.  Policy is.

      Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds. Buddha

      by zenbowl on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 11:18:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        zenbowl, publicv

        I'm a Christian and he ain't my pastor. Hell, I could get really ugly about it and say that being Roman Catholic, I resent the idea of anyone who's rejected so much of the Apostolic Church being my pastor. He's a pastor for his own ego and self-serving apostasy, as far as I am concerned.

        But more importantly, I don't see this as Obama anointing him as anything in terms of national religion. He's the POTUS. That's not part of his job. We shouldn't be implying it is and we shouldn't be suggesting it is make making this kind of inference.

        "The universe is run by the complex interweaving of three elements: energy, matter, and enlightened self-interest." - G'Kar

        by croyal on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 11:44:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  People give a shit this time (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and that is what matters. Obama could easily have chosen a less notorious evangelical pastor rather than Warren, whose career is based on promoting extreme right-wing views in a customer-friendly package. As a non-believer, I consider Warren to be nothing more than a slick salesman of hate speech. His presence at the invocation will defile what should be a joyous moment.

        I've been fine with all of Obama's other decisions-Bob Gates, Hillary Clinton, etc.. This, however, really stings.

        I see no need to throw a bone to those who seek to persecute others.

        The weak in courage is strong in cunning-William Blake

        by beltane on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 11:45:32 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Rick Warren isn't being picked for the gig (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          because he's a homophobe.  This isn't a shout out to homophobes.  I think that's where people are making a critical mistake.

          Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds. Buddha

          by zenbowl on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 11:50:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I love the Lincoln quote! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It won't be used as the invocation, but (especially with Obama's affinity for Lincoln) I hope they use this somewhere in the inauguration.  It captures beautifully a key part of Barack's mission ahead.

    With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.

    Some people fight fire with fire. Professionals use water.

    by Happy Days on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 11:30:03 AM PST

    •  There's a reason (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      his second inaugural address is inscribed on the Lincoln Memorial.  The whole speech is a masterpiece, the end, perfection.  And you knew his heart was behind his philosophy.  Much like Obama.

      Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds. Buddha

      by zenbowl on Fri Dec 19, 2008 at 11:34:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for the diary (0+ / 0-)

    It is my understanding that rick warren has recently discovered that children need advocating for, his focus of course was on fetuses only. I find this very sad not recognizing the humanity of children and think warren is more pitiful than influential. He needs us to show him the way as do his followers. And the very real threat of climate change humanity faces right now is so much bigger than any one persons belief or ideology. just sayin'

  •  Two words Billy Graham. Never heard enough (0+ / 0-)

    of the bad that could have been spoken out against this man.  Deservedly so as well.  I too, would like the over scrutinization to stop.  and as someon mentioned, Reverend Lowery will be there as well.  LEt's talk about him.

    Too frequent rewards signify that the enemy is at the end of his resources; too many punishments betray a condition of dire distress.

    by publicv on Sat Dec 20, 2008 at 09:22:59 AM PST

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