Monday, December 22, 2008

Barack's Latest Pastor Problem

One of the biggest problem's with many of my co-conspirators on the Left is their absolute refusal to think in terms of long-range, political strategy. It happened too many times to count during the campaign which ended last month; and now it's happened yet again. I am referring of course to the explosions of outrage that emanated this week from many progressives and from within the Gay community on the news that President-elect Obama had chosen the controversial, uber Right Wing, anti Gay Rights preacher, Rick Warren, to deliver a blessing at his inauguration next month. I, too, was somewhat dismayed when Barack's transition team made the announcement. "What is my man thinking?" I said to no one in particular.

Then I was reminded of a film I first saw when I was ten years old, in the autumn of 1968 at the long-ago-demolished Goshen Movie Theater. I went to see it with my brother, Pete, and my friends, Tom and Tim Finkle. The film was called Yellow Submarine and it starred animated versions of the Beatles. At the movie's end, when John, Paul, George and Ringo liberated the good people of Pepperland from the evil clutches of the naughty Blue Meanies, what did they do? Did they ostracize the Meanies? Did they banish them from Pepperland forever? No. They reached out to them! Leave it to John Lennon! (or the actor doing a lousy impersonation of John Lennon's voice):

"Hello, Blue People! Won't you join us? Look up!"

The Blue Meanies got into the good vibes, everyone hugged one another and joined in with a rousing rendition of George Harrison's It's All Too Much. The film ended and they all lived happily ever after - or at least until the Fab Four broke up acrimoniously two years later, suing the shit out of each other in a London courtroom. C'est la vie.

Okay, I realize that that's a ridiculously simplistic analogy, but it bears mentioning for no other reason than the fact that I am trying to stretch this piece out as long as possible and I haven't a clue as to why Obama would choose someone like Warren to deliver an inaugural invocation. But I do have some ideas....

In the last three decades, this country has become as politically polarized as it's been at any time since the war between the states nearly a century-and-a-half ago. There is a huge segment of America that still thinks the so-called "Reagan Revolution" was a really neat idea and that George W. Bush was merely a twisted detour off the Republican party's highway to deregulation, plutocratic fiscal policy and a twenty-four-hour-a-day Anita Bryant Satellite Radio channel. It is my belief that by having Pastor Warren deliver a prayer on January 20, Barack Obama is reaching out to Americans of all political shades. He wants to be the president of the united states of America. He is telling them:

"We may not agree on many of the fundamental issues facing our troubled nation, but I am recognizing you as an equal participant in the American experiment. I may have defeated your ideology in the last election, but I respect your right to hold a differing opinion. I am reaching out to you. I want to be the Beatles to your Blue Meanies. Welcome to Pepperland....

"It's all too much for me to take
The love that's shining all around me
Everywhere is birthday cake
So take a piece but not too much...."

Or words to that effect.

Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball, has a theory that I tend to concur with: Barack Obama is positioning himself to govern from the left by strategically placing within his administration a few men and women of known moderate to slightly right-of-center political leanings. By doing so he is essentially immunizing himself from the inevitable accusations from the Hate Radio crowd that his White House is filled with Left Wing crazies, determined to send this grand and glorious land of ours spiraling into the depths of hell, forcing good and decent Americans to march in lock step to the communistic philosophies of Karl Marx, Emma Goldman and the Smothers Brothers. Rick Warren's very presence at Obama's inauguration gives these jackasses less ammunition to fire at him.

Although some of the people he has appointed to his team have left me somewhat puzzled, I have no other choice but to give the President-elect the benefit of the doubt. To those progressives who are now in the process of having a nervous breakdown at the make up of the new administration, I have three words:

President Sarah Palin.

We really dodged a bullet in the last election and we have much to be grateful for during this holiday season. Barack Obama is not John McCain, thank goodness. The dreadful, monetary trauma this country is now experiencing will more than likely be alleviated - if only somewhat - i
n the next administration. Had the seventy-two-year-old McCain and the extremist Gidget von Braun won the last election, it certainly would have meant the final nail in the coffin of America's economic suicide. To those on the Left who are now viewing Team Obama with trepidation, I would only remind you that it won't be Robert Gates making the decisions; it will be President Obama. He is our new decider-in-chief.

Unlike the administration which is about to mercifully end, the Obama White House will not be packed to the rafters with half-witted political hacks. These people are reminiscent of John F. Kennedy's New Frontier; that's the good news. Here's the bad news: The "Best and the Brightest" of the JFK era (McNamara, Bundy, Rusk also got us stuck in the quagmire of Vietnam. The new president and his team should not be marred by the overconfidence that afflicted Kennedy and his people. That can only lead to disaster.
What is most reassuring about our new prez is his cool, almost detached calculation. He does not seem to be the type of man who would foolishly dive into any situation minus the benefit of careful thought and study - unlike the moron he will be replacing in less than a month. The men and women he will be surrounding himself with can hardly be described as sycophantic "yes people", ideologically bound to an utterly failed philosophy of governance. Remember the mantra the Bush Mob kept repeating when the Supreme Court installed them eight years ago?
"The grownups are back in charge."
Of this you may be sure: Responsible grownups really are back in charge. The kooks, criminals and fools who hijacked the executive branch of your government in 2001 are on their way out the back door. Good riddance to bad rubbish. In the next two years, the new Washington parlor game will be trying to guess how many of these hideous bastards and bitches (Hi, Condi!) will end up doing serious time in federal prison.

In spite of the mess that Obama is inheriting, he has one, very tangible, undeniable thing going in his favor: He has the good fortune to be following into the Oval Office the most hideously corrupt and incompetent president in American history. Even if he turns out to be a mediocre president (and I do not believe that will be the case) compared to the nitwit who at this moment is sleeping soundly in the Executive Mansion, even his failures will seem like successes. Barack Obama is not George W. Bush either - not even close. Whatever happens between now and 2013 (or 2017 - I'm predicting two terms) the situation can only get better. It's damned near certain that it can't get much worse.

To my good albeit somewhat hyperactive friends who lean left, I can only say, "Fear not, oh troubled ones" or better still, "Chill out!" I'm not crazy about Rick Warren either. The most generous thing that may be said of the man is that he is not one tenth the sanctimonious asshole that Jerry Falwell was. Nor do some of the people Barack is placing in his administration make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But it is obvious why he is doing what he's doing. It is all part of his overall political strategy. Some are reacting as if he has just revealed himself to be a far-Right ideologue. Believe me, that is not the case; far from it.

Maybe four years from now, I'll be sitting here with an omelet on my face, complaining about how Barack Obama let us down. Maybe Twenty-five years from now, we might be looking back on Obama as one of the greatest politicians in American history; greater, even, than the politician's politician, Bill Clinton.

We shall see.

There are a mere twenty-nine days until this murderously corrupt, criminally incompetent president is out of the White House forever. Hang in there, kiddies!


At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Susan said...

Sez I to myself, "that's a blue meanie!". Right arm, Tom. We need to have a little faith. I like to think that Obama didn't change overnight and that he is indeed building a team to represent many interests. Can't wait for January 20.

At 9:43 AM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Amen, Susan!

I am cautiously optomistic at what will happen in the next year. As I said, it can't get much worse than it is now and will probably only improve. We shall see what we shall see.


Tom Degan

At 10:41 AM, Blogger TazzyK said...

If I can't dance I don't want to be part of your revolution...

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Tom, here's a link to an article from a New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program, who shares your viewpoint. You just may be on to something.

To paraphrase a quotation that's been mentioned many times on Chris Matthews's Hardball in recent weeks, Lyndon Johnson purportedly said: "It's better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside pissing in." He was supposedly speaking of J. Edgar Hoover, but the same analogy could easily apply to any one of the numerous self-righteous conservatives who champ at the bit to find flaw with the soon-to-be Obama Administration.

Maybe it's all a smokescreen after all.

At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Paul Madryga said...

Machievelli wrote that in politics you need to keep you friends close, and your enemies closer. Obama's no Machievelli, methinks, but nor is he a fool.

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Tom, Just wanted to say, I enjoy reading your work. You are an inspiration. Keep it up!

At 12:37 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...


Thank you for the kind words. As the Beatles once opined, "That means a lot"

Love and Peace,

Tom Degan

At 2:42 PM, Anonymous Paul Magill Smith said...

Tom, thanks for posting a link to here on AlterNet. That's what brought me to "The Rant".

I contemplated & rationalized the same issues Obama must have regarding the selection of Warren, and came to the same conclusions both of you seem to have. If we ever are to become the 'United' States we have to reject the paradigm of left-right, red-blue, Dem-Repub, and ALL work together toward a compromise for the common good.

It's very idealistic (though I believe possible), but I still have problems with BO appointing so many members with ties to Bilderberg, Tri-Lateral Commission, Council on Foreign Relations, Kissinger, AIPAC, PNAC, NWO, etc, since many of these are about divide & conquer rather than unity.

During the '60's I saw a lot of good decent people swallowed by the thought, "I can affect/effect more positive change from the inside than by standing outside and shouting". They joined the 'system', lost their initial bearings, then became the thing they said they hated most...the 'system'.

I like his (Obama's) words because they have real meaning; now it's time to back them up with actual deeds. I'm reminded of hearing The Who sing at Contitution Hall (1968) the night Johnson announced he wouldn't run again, "We won't be fooled again".

Well, we have been many times since then, but it is my great hope for this country I love Obama proves the exception to the now commonplace rule of our rulers.

At 7:08 PM, Blogger lkagy said...

The way I see it, Obama has both sides in an uproar and he isn't even in the White House yet, so he must be doing something right.

Anyway, it's just a prayer--not a cabinet post, judicial appointment, not even a whole service, for Christ's sake! I think he knows what he's doing.


At 10:06 PM, Anonymous lori said...

"Reverend" Warren is neither moderate nor "center right". He is a huckster. A big clownish egotistical oaf. He's divisive and a total insult to any thinking human being. For Barack Obama to embrace this man in the name of "reaching out", in my opinion, is a great slap in the face to his supporters. It feels like the 90's all over again, and another Democratic President trying to govern from the center. Screw that. And please don't tell me I'm not doing "our side" any favors. You can lay down all you want and let this turn into another Clinton administration. I, for one, am not having it.

At 10:42 PM, Blogger JennyMac said...

Great blog/post, whatever. I think the uber libs are getting their panties in a wad over nada. Hey, Warren might not be MLK, but he will have nothing to do with this admin. In fact, I kinda wish Rev. Wright was picked! At least he spoke the truth. Whoa, the wingnuts would have a field day!

I think they ought to do away with the invocation altogether. Um, separation of church and state? Of course, the crapola would have REALLY hit the fan! Maybe one of these days - but no doubt not. What about all the folks of other faiths - or none at all?

He should have picked a rabbi - now THAT would be rich! Or how about the Dalai Lama?

At 6:22 PM, Anonymous rhbee1 said...

Here's my post about this discussion. I hope you all don't mind my dropping in this way.

At 6:43 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...


Please! Feel free to drop by any time. And Happy Christmas to you.


Tom Degan

PS - Nice blog, by the way.

At 7:01 PM, Blogger Bucky said...

I'll stand with Lori and say that the Warren selection was a disaster. I appreciate your "take the long-range" approach. Buy why does that long-range approach always seem to involve telling the queers to sit down and STFU?

Warren has said just recently that gay relationships analagous to someone who wants to have sex with a pizza. He compares us to pedophiles. He says that gays aren't Christian and in fact hate Christ. He has worked very hard to make sure that we remain pariahs and second-class citizens. And he has been very successful.

When you say that you believe that by selecting Warren Obama is reaching out to say "I am recognizing you as an equal participant in the American experiment" all I can point out is that he is singling out gays and lesbians to tell us that in fact, WE are not an equal participant in the American experiment.

I haven't been wringing my hands over Obama's appointments. I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. And yes, I do realize that the Warren moment is purely symbolic. But symbols do, in fact matter. There is a reason that school children start each day with their hands over their hearts, facing the American flag and reciting the pledge. Symbols are very powerful things.

And the symbolic middle finger of hate that Obama has just shoved in the faces of gay Americans is a very powerful symbol to us.

If Obama has some James Bondian Spectresque plan that involves catering to the evangelicals so that he can secure equal rights for ALL Americans, I'd love to hear about it.

Until then, I'll just think that once again, gay progressives just got sent to the back of the bus.

At 9:07 PM, Blogger charles moore said...

Hi Tom,
One of your best postings yet. I think you are right on target with your thoughts here. Note to Bucky, I too am gay and am not particularly thrilled with the Warren pick, but I try to keep my eye on the fact that Obama was elected to be president of the entire country and all people, even those that we do not like. We have had enough of the Old Boy network with the Bushies and it is time to open the tent a bit and extend a hand. As Jesus said "Do good to them that hate you".

At 12:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in complete agreement with you on this. And, as a fellow baby-boomer and Beatle fan, I like your analogy.

As a good friend of mine once said, "The way to get your opponents to come over and join you is to shine the light so brightly that even they can't look away from it."

Thank goodness---and all of us who worked our asses off for it---that Barack Hussein Obama is going to be our next president.

Best to you. Happy Holidays.


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