Barack's Latest Pastor Problem
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 - in 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 et.al.) 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.
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!