Friday, December 19, 2008

Rick Warren at the Inaugural: The Obama Rules

Many people are still upset about Obama's decision to invite Rick Warren to participate in his Inaugural.

What no one seems to realize is that this is exactly according to Obama's plan. He wants to precipitate a vigorous debate. He knows that, given a fair fight, advocates of equality for same-sex couples will ultimately win.

He believes in promoting that equality. There are many tools at his disposal to do that, and he will have many options to make policy decisions to advance that.

But more importantly, he knows that his side will win in a fair fight, and it's his job to make sure it's a fair fight. This is a completely different approach from Bush, who did everything possible to make sure it wasn't a fair fight.

Many liberals (and a few conservatives, notably Andrew Sullivan) are going to be criticizing Rick Warren. They will be holding him and his followers accountable. There will be much heated discussion, not just between religious conservatives and liberals, but between many people of different faiths and political persuasions. Some people may change their minds. Some people may appreciate the perspective of another side. And some people's views will be hardened, and they'll be bitter and angry.

But the debate will be healthy. And one thing Rick Warren and other conservatives will not be able to do is criticize Obama. They will have to respect him. Earning the respect of your political opponents is a very, very good way of accumulating political power.

So I think it's great that many people are examining Rick Warren's record, taking him seriously, criticizing his ideas. That is precisely what they should be doing. And it is precisely what Barack Obama wants.

We are now playing by Obama's Rules. Welcome to the future of American democracy.

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