Saturday, December 20, 2008

Do they get it?

Cause Célèbre is the designation of a column in the LA Times entitled: Obama's choice of Rick Warren to lead prayer dismays Hollywood liberals.

Cause Célèbre is defined as an incident that attracts great public attention. Great must be taken in context in this case: these are Hollywood liberals who are upset about the passage of Proposition 8 in California this past Election Day. Prop 8 bans gay marriage, and Rev. Rick Warren supported it openly and strongly.

From Hollywood's perspective, there's a cloud over Barack Obama's inaugural. Now the question is whether the weather that day will simply be overcast or stormy.

He has disappointed, even enraged, Hollywood types by selecting Warren to say the lead prayer at the Inaugural.

"Barack Obama is a very smart student of history," said longtime celebrity publicist and gay activist Howard Bragman. "He saw that Bill Clinton did damage to his early presidency by appearing to pander to the gay and lesbian community. Obama has chosen a different tack.

I'd say that analysis is spot on, to a degree. Obama is a great student of history, indeed, and I'd say his studies go beyond 1993.

"What he didn't realize was how much untapped energy there was in the gay and lesbian community because of the passage of Prop. 8," said Bragman. "Obama didn't realize, after all the support he got from the gay and lesbian community, we feel betrayed right now."

Actually, I'd say that Obama took a calculated step in inviting Warren: he is appealing, even pandering, to evangelicals, reaching out to them in a concrete way. Perhaps what gay Hollywood types fails to understand is that Obama will say and do things without checking with them or assessing how they will react to it.

Democratic political consultant Chad Griffin, who this week was named by the Advocate, America's leading gay publication, as one of its People of the Year, thinks that it's up to Warren to let Obama off the hook and withdraw.

That assumes that Obama is on the hook with others than activist gays and Hollywood liberals. There are many other constituencies in the country beyond those two groups.

"Rick Warren needs to realize that he is further dividing us at a time when the country needs to come together," said Griffin, whose Hollywood clientele includes Rob Reiner, Michael King and Steve Bing. "I think he needs to gracefully step aside."

Nonsense. Griffin needs to accept that his agenda is not the most important agenda.

As for Obama, Griffin said: "He has a long history of standing up for and defending equal rights. I believe and hope that calling on Warren was just a innocent mistake by the transition team."

Innocent mistake? More a calculated step. And by inviting Warren he has scored points with a constituency, evangelicals, that did not support him greatly in the election. That's being inclusive, rather than divisive.

Warren has his own history with liberal Hollywood. He was instrumental in encouraging support among evangelicals for the Al Gore-inspired, Oscar-winning documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth."

I have never heard of an evangelical doing such a thing.

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