Thursday, December 18, 2008

Obama's Sister Souljah Moment?

President Obama's choice of Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration has been received by the gay and lesbian community as a slap in the face, made even more painful by the passage of Proposition 8 in Warren's home state of California. As a political move it's undeniably shrewd. Obama ran on a platform that stressed cooperation across the aisle. Putting Warren front and center at his inauguration will allow him to reinforce his reputation as a uniter.

But I also have to wonder if Warren qualifies as Obama's Sister Souljah moment. The simple fact is that while the gay and lesbian coalition is an important piece of the Democratic political machine it is also a political liability across most of the country. By distancing himself from them, by publicly inviting their attacks, Obama gains some useful space away from a group that mainstream America views as radical and extreme--and not in a good Mountain Dew sense. The gay and lesbian community is probably in for even more disappointment if they're hoping for some sort of presidential backing for gay marriage--poll after poll has shown that the majority of Americans oppose state supported gay marriage and it's a polical non-starter.

The most radical of Obama's supporters are about to learn a hard lesson as they discover that the primary mission of any politician is not to institute reform or change, but to be re-elected.