Christopher Hitchens' column over at Slate is a winner, as well.
As Barack Obama is gradually learning, his job is to be the president of all Americans at all times. If he likes, he can oppose the idea of marriage for Americans who are homosexual. That's a policy question on which people may and will disagree. However, the man he has chosen to deliver his inaugural invocation is a relentless clerical businessman who raises money on the proposition that certain Americans—non-Christians, the wrong kind of Christians, homosexuals, nonbelievers—are of less worth and littler virtue than his own lovely flock of redeemed and salvaged and paid-up donors.
This quite simply cannot stand. Is it possible that Obama did not know the ideological background of his latest pastor? The thought seems plausible when one recalls the way in which he tolerated the odious Jeremiah Wright. Or is it possible that he does know the background of racism and superstition and sectarianism but thinks (as with Wright) that it might be politically useful in attracting a certain constituency? Either of these choices is pretty awful to contemplate.
I've read several different explanations of how this is actually shrewd politics, a healing gesture, whatever. No, it isn't. Wrong messenger, wrong message. By an amazing coincidence, once again it's the gays being told to keep a lid on it, never mind the symbolism, we all have to put aside our personal issues and come together in unity and all that... but how come no one else has to do much adjusting?
Is this really just a cynical move? Do something to get the gays in an uproar, to gain credit for being a centrist who's willing to anger his base? A Sister Souljah moment? I can believe there was some of that present. I can't believe the Obama team fully expected the depth of the reaction, because they misjudged the depth of the hurt in the gay community. Having your civil rights put up for a vote, and taken away, to the tune of vile, hateful rhetoric, can do that. And inviting a major fundraiser who spewed more than his share of that bile to give the invocation, and thus implicit sanction....it's simply too much. It goes too far. Marc Ambinder's wrong about this, by at least half. And Andrew Sullivan is obviously seeing something I'm not; the "earnestness and sincerity of his campaign" are belied by the hamhandedness (or blatant cynicism) of this invitation.
As I told a friend of mine: I knew Obama would disappoint me. It's inevitable; every winning politician must, inevitably, disappoint his or her supporters. I just thought he'd be in office before it happened.
I know, I know. He's a politician, from Chicago. I never bought into the walks-on-water enthusiasm of some. But I thought he was a cut above the typical politician.
I'm not so sure now.