My take on Warren


Remus’ post below expresses what is emerging as the consensus opionion in the progressive world.  The comparison with Wallace shows it in stark relief.  I look at it a little differently.

Obama will be president of everyone, not just those that agree with his positions.  So what is the correct level of inclusion for those who disagree?  Not the policy creation level – that’s definitely beyond the pale.  But what about, say, including someone you disagree with in a symbolic way?  And that’s why Remus’ comparison with Wallace strikes to the heart of the matter.  Does Warren rise to the level of Wallace?

First, did even Wallace rise to the level of Wallace?  In other words, would it have been incorrect to include Wallace in a symbolic position at the inauguration of Nixon?  I don’t think this is as clear as Remus makes it out.  Reaching out to segregationists is not the same as endorsing them.  I think the proper question to ask is:  would including Wallace have helped the segregationist cause?  And the answer to that is yes.  Many people viewed Wallace as a fringe extremist. Giving him a national platform would have added credibility to him and his cause.  Wallace did rise to the level of Wallace and he should not have been included.

On balance, I think the Warren choice brings more credibility to Obama than it does to the anti-gay movement. The question for me (and I think Obama) is what kind of credibility accrues to each.  The credibility Warren gets is because he is willing to listen reasonably to those he disagrees with.  This is in contrast to much of the evangelical movement, which seems to judge its members by just how hard they can jam their fingers in their ears whenever anyone challenges their beliefs.  With the Warren innovation, Obama is building up someone who is willing to listen, and that strengthens the overall cause, because the cause IS just, and reasonable.  If we can get a few more people willing to listen, enough of them will drop their kneejerk opposition to make a difference.


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