All Hell has broken loose in GLBT quarters about the choice of Rick Warren to pray at the Inauguration. I completely get and agree with the opposition. I'm surprised by the surprise, though. Barack Obama has been doing a lot of, depending on how you look at it, reconciling with or coopting foes from the campaign. Look at how many of his Democratic primary opponents are going to be in the Administration. While Rick Warren calls Obama a friend, Evangelicals have symbolically represented the other for Democrats for quite some time.
There's a lot of back and forth inside baseball on whether a congressional committee made the decision or whether Obama had the final say even if the committee did suggest Warren. I don't think that's the point.
We have a president-elect who will not be scripted by the divisions in the culture war. For those of us on either side, that's not going to be pleasant. It's going to be a constant effort at interpreting what Obama's choices mean. We may be guessing for quite some time if we try to follow the semiotics of the words and events surrounding him.
Public presentation and rhetoric matter. And I think a president's rhetoric has to try to stretch to include every group. Obama could take the clear and easy road by either picking one side or speaking in such generalities that what he says is meaningless. Instead, he may be charting a new course of simultanteously embracing aspects of the two sides in the culture war. That will provide plenty of occasion for both sides to be insulted.
I admit I'm not quite sure what to make of the pattern that is emerging. And while necessary from the point of view of GLBT advocacy, the condemnations do not begin to explain what is at work in these paradoxical choices that Obama is making.