Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

"Now it has officially gone too far," Ms. Posner tells us. It had not "gone too far" when Obama voted for those billions for more war, or announced he would target more Afghans for death or voted for Patriot Act II or announced his support for other violations of constitutional protections (see FISA wiretaps). Ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

While concern over Warren is not misplaced, it serves as a great example of selective outrage, entirely predictable from a writer for the decidedly conventional Nation.

John Pasco

New Britain, CT

Dec 19 2008 - 12:00pm

Web Letter

What's the matter with Sarah Posner? Where does she get the idea that "Democrats" reached out to Rick Warren? Is she too afraid to put the onus of the blame right where it belongs--on Obama? where the blame belongs for myriad other bad decisions made before he even puts a toe over the threshold of the White House. I'm a Democrat, and I never wanted to reach out to any evangelical, I never wanted to have Robert Rubin or Larry Summers decide my new economic agenda. I never wanted to have Eric Holder--a man who defended Chiquita Banana Corp. in their hiring of hit squads in Colombia to eliminate pesky workers who wanted to organize for a better wages and living conditions--be my attorney general. I don't particualrly want Mr. Vilsack to be using his state's or any other state's grain to make fuel for cars instead of feeding the hungry. Time to call it what it is, Sarah.

Ruth H. Strauss, MD

Los Angeles, CA

Dec 19 2008 - 3:51am

Web Letter

I personally find Warren to be pretty repulsive. However, fellow progressives chill out! My god, have you already forgotten that Barack Hussein Obama is a black man with a funny name? A full third of this country believes he is the Antichrist and will remove the American flag and replace it with... gasp... the black national flag. Have you not heard about the dramatic increase of hate crimes throughout this country, a direct result of the fact that our new president is black?

Obama is keenly aware of these things, and he is keenly aware of how they will impact his ability to actually be a great president. He has a deep understanding of what he needs to do to navigate this reality--a reality that most white progressives don't even understand.

Warren's pick is about trying to get this 30 percent of our country to stop perpetuating hate crimes/comments. It's about getting them to consider, even for a second, that maybe he's not the Antichrist after all. Obama will have such an easier time implementing various reforms if this 30 percent calms down a bit.

Furthermore, the reforms that he is going to implement will be impossible if all sides are not at the table and have a say. Transformative change, which he's always discussed in an open and intelligent way, does not come from ideological left just telling everyone that this is how it's going to go. I would love it if this were so. I wish we were all kings and queens of this world and just tell conservative wackos to get with it. But just ramming through your opinions will just piss people off and not get us anywhere. Obama knows this. Take comfort in his very progressive voting record. Take comfort in the fact that this is a progressive and brilliant man who knows how to get things done in a moderate world among people who don't pay attention.

My God, the man isn't even yet president and the reactionary left is already freaking out. Please stop!

For at least a year.

Amy Potter

Portland, OR

Dec 19 2008 - 12:57am

Web Letter

Sorry your toes hurt from the treading, but what did you expect? Obama to spurn the religious right and declare it not a part of America?

That would kind of defeat the idea of unity. Somehow, I got the impression Obama was big on that issue...

Matt Stephenson

Chapel Hill, NC

Dec 18 2008 - 9:01pm

Web Letter

Our"scrappy senator" seems to be trying to please the people who will work the hardest to defeat him. I think Rev. Jeremiah Wright put it best: "When you become part of the established administration of this country I'm coming after you because you will be part of a system that grinds people under your boots". A great metaphor for what is happening in this country is A.C. Thompson's article on New Orleans in the January 5 issue of The Nation. I can see many in the Obama administration working their hardest to sabotage his every move. Does he have a death wish?


Caribou, ME

Dec 18 2008 - 8:22pm

Web Letter

Ms. Posner should back off on being judge and jury for what Rick Warren and Obama's intentions are. David Spero said it correctly. Obama is appointing and giving recognition to pragmatic leaders who can pull this country together.

In using her label of fundamentalist she groups all of the religious right into the unintellectual category. Those of us with faith in a loving almighty God who have attended liberal colleges and done post-graduate work see through Ms. Posner's erroneous conclusions. Faith is a matter of principle and not a strategy or an agenda that is blindly carried out. Ms Posner will polarize those good people from the right & left.

Garret Law

Corbett, OR

Dec 18 2008 - 7:12pm

Web Letter

The obvious choice for the invocation would have been Jim Wallis, the most visible face of progressive evangelicalism, founder of Sojourners and author of God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It and The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post–Religious Right America.

Wallis is a strong voice who believes that addressing poverty is one of the central issues of our time, particularly for those of us who call ourselves Christians.

Here's what he said in an interview with Krista Tippett on PRI's Speaking of Faith:

"The biblical notion is that the truth about a society is much better known from the bottom of that society then from the top. We did this experiment way back a long time ago, as young seminarians, we found every passage in the Bible about poor people, about wealth and poverty, oppression, all that, and we found several thousand verses. It was the second most prominent theme in the Hebrew scripts, the Old Testament. And in the New Testament, the Synoptic Gospels, the first three, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, one of every 16 verses. In Luke, it was one of every seven verses. And we took the Bible and we took a pair of scissors and we cut out of the Bible every single reference to poor people. And when we were done, the Bible was in shreds. It was full of holes, falling apart in my hands. I'd take it out to preach. I'd say, 'Brothers and sisters, this is the American Bible. It's just full of holes.'

"I still have that old Bible now, full of holes, ripped to shreds. What's happening now, Krista, is our Bibles are being put back together again by a new generation. This isn't about politics or a liberal or a conservative. This is about the integrity of the word of God. There's nothing as basic as this, how we treat the other, the vulnerable, the poor, the enemy. The one who's not at the table is the one we're going to be judged by."

Elsewhere in the interview, Wallis says about the "new generation" of progressive evangelicals, "This new generation cares much more about the 30,000 children who died today globally because of totally unnecessary poverty and preventable disease, cares more about those three dozens kids than they do about gay marriage amendments in Ohio. They really do."

You can see the full transcript of the interview or listen to the program.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Obama will tap Wallis or another progressive religious voice to offer a closing prayer to "bookend" his inauguration. I'll probably be disappointed in that hope--just as I've been disappointed by the Warren pick and some of the cabinet picks.

Paul Williford

Fort Walton Beach, FL

Dec 18 2008 - 6:13pm

Web Letter

When it comes to Obama, Disappointment, with a capital D, just comes with the territory. Virtually all of his cabinet appointments to date have been incredibly disappointing, with a few minor exceptions. As someone who worked actively for a real progressive Democrat, I am not at all surprised at the depth of Obama's sell-out. I just wonder how long it will take for the stars to fall from the eyes of his many naïve supporters, including MoveOn.org, who celebrate his "progressive" agenda. Where, I'd like to know, do they manage to find any evidence of it?

It's depressing enough to have to live in California where gay friends and relatives are now second-class citizens. But to have a Prop 8 champion officiate at Obama's swearing in just adds salt to that very fresh wound. Thanks again, Barack, for never failing to disappoint.

Alec Johnson

Eureka, CA

Dec 18 2008 - 4:27pm

Web Letter

My niece is an evangelical. She became one in high school because they were the people in her rural Oregon school who seemed to have a serious agenda, as opposed to hanging out and drinking. Her younger sister came to the same school three years later and started a "Peace Club." They get along fine.

The point is that my evangelical niece sends me stuff about the evangelical literature she gets, and there really is a difference between Rick Warren and a lot of the others, such as Dobson. There are some who want to kill everyone who disbelieves, but Warren is not one of them.

Including Warren as one of a number of speakers might be a way of helping the moderate-to-progressive evangelicals get a foothold. Obama promises to have LGBT speakers and others at the inauguration. That's his way, including as many as possible. I wish there were another way, but the Christian right are the right's shock troops. And people can change. If Obama can get some of them on his side, that's a big help.

David Spero

San Francisco, CA

Dec 18 2008 - 4:02pm

Web Letter

The hope of election day will quickly fade into disillusionment and a cold wind of cynicism will blow hard throughout the progressive grassroots that started the Obama movement if Barack Obama continues to elevate people like Rick Warren, who stands, stridently, against the most important freedoms progressives have been fighting for. As a pro-choice, straight female who totally supports gay rights, including gay marriage, I am deeply disappointed in President-elect Obama's choice. With thousands of moderate and liberal clergy to choose from, it is troubling to realize that the new leadership has chosen to placate the religious right, instead of challenging their power.

Cheri DelBrocco

Memphis, TN

Dec 18 2008 - 3:51pm

Before commenting, please read our Community Guidelines.