Three more blatant acts of bipartisan compromise by Obama: Salazar & Warren & Vilsack.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Dec 19, 2008
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He’s done it again: miffed his progressive ideologue left wing frenemies while appealing vaguely to conservative ideologue right wing enemies and directly to middle-of-the-road Americans who want to see the conflicting sides on every issue shut up, come together and actually get something done. Problem is, no one’s happy.

Is this analogous to a hamburger-loving husband and a vegan wife who agree to get sushi? Or is this a case of the best-of-both-worlds? 

1. Salazar, in charge of Keeping Amerca Beautiful! Unlike any real cowboy, he trots about wearing a hat indoors, a bolo tie to DC functions and boots to the gym (okay, I made that part up)…and generally does everything he can to reassure ‘ordinary Americans’ he’s one of them. It’s smart politics, but doesn’t add up when, from time to time, he sides with the good ol’boys. He’s a Democrat, but environmentalists don’t know what to think about his pro-mining, Mother Earth-is-just-okay tendencies.


2. Vilsak, in charge of our food and farms! Guess Obama wasn’t such a close reader of Michael Pollan’s Farmer-in-Chief article, after all. Vilsack, a friend of GMOs (if you don’t know what they are, you should) and biotech, cares about small farms about as much as a 12 year old cares about visiting the Natural History Museum: it’s a fun idea, I guess, but it’s kinda boring…can’t we go play with Monsanto, pullllease! 


3. And now Rick Warren is one of two religious figures appearing at the Inauguration. Rick is widely loved, considered a moderate evangelist, a nice guy, he’s deeply involved in AIDs work and is all about acknowledging, even fighting, Climate Change. So what’s not to love? Oh, this [*see excerpt, below]: he thinks gays are akin to polygamists and cradle-robbers. The move, intended (one would assume) to invite American Christians and conservatives into the Obama tent, infuriated the blogosphere, and my facebook page, and kick-em-while-they’redown opponents of the recently passed Prop 8. So why’d Obama let him appear so prominently at his Inauguration 

At his news conference Thursday, the president-elect said that he, Obama, had been invited to speak at Warren’s church, despite their disagreements, so it was only reasonable that Obama include Warren in the inauguration. And besides, Obama said, Rev. Joseph Lowery, the civil-rights legend, will deliver the benediction, so “there are going to be a wide range of viewpoints that are presented.”” The issue is on the cover of Republican standard, the National Review:



*Rick Warren excerpt, via Beliefnet:


BELIEFNET: Which do you think is a greater threat to the American family – divorce or gay marriage?

WARREN: [laughs] That’s a no brainer. Divorce. There’s no doubt about it.

Here’s an interesting thing. The divorce statistics are quite bandied around. People say half the marriages end in divorce. That’s just not true. 40% of first time marriages end in divorce. About 61% of second time marriages end in divorce and 75% of third time marriages end in divorce. So the odds get worse and what’s balancing this out…when you hear 50% end in divorce, that’s just not true. The majority of marriages do last….

BELIEFNET: So why do we hear so much more – especially from religious conservatives – about gay marriage than about divorce?

Oh we always love to talk about other sins more than ours. Why do we hear more about drug use than about being overweight? Why do we hear more about anything else than about wasting time or gossip? We want to point that my sins are perfectly acceptable. Your sins are hideous and evil.

BELIEFNET: One controversial moment for you in the last election was your support for proposition 8 in California. … Just to clarify, do you support civil unions or domestic partnerships?

WARREN: I don’t know if I’d use the term there but I support full equal rights for everybody in America. I don’t believe we should have unequal rights depending on particular lifestyles so I fully support equal rights.

[Clarification from Pastor Warren 12/15: I now see you asked about civil UNIONS -and I responded by talking about civil RIGHTS. Sorry. They are two different issues. No American should ever be discriminated against because of their beliefs. Period. But a civil union is not a civil right. Nowhere in the constitution can you find the “right” to claim that any loving relationship identical to marriage. It’s just not there. ]

BELIEFNET: What about partnership benefits in terms of insurance or hospital visitation?

WARREN: You know, not a problem with me.

[Clarification from Pastor Warren 12/15: I favor anyone being able to make anyone else the beneficiary of their health or life insurance coverage. If I am willing to pay for it, I should be able to put a friend, partner, relative, or stranger on my coverage. No one should be turned away from seeing a friend in the hospital. But visiting rights are a non-issue in California! Since 1999, California has had a domestic partnership law that grants gay couples visiting rights and all the other rights. Prop 8 had no -zero -effect on those rights.]

The issue to me, I’m not opposed to that as much as I’m opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I’m opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I’m opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.

BELIEFNET: Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?

Oh , I do. For 5,000 years, marriage has been defined by every single culture and every single religion – this is not a Christian issue. Buddhist, Muslims, Jews – historically, marriage is a man and a woman. And the reason I supported Proposition 8, is really a free speech issue. Because first the court overrode the will of the people, but second there were all kinds of threats that if that did not pass then any pastor could be considered doing hate speech if he shared his views that he didn’t think homosexuality was the most natural way for relationships, and that would be hate speech. We should have freedom of speech, ok? And you should be able to have freedom of speech to make your position and I should be able to have freedom of speech to make my position, and can’t we do this in a civil way.

Most people know I have many gay friends. I’ve eaten dinner in gay homes. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church. Kay and I have given millions of dollars out of Purpose Driven Life helping people who got AIDS through gay relationships. So they can’t accuse me of homophobia. I just don’t believe in the redefinition of marriage.

[Clarification/addition from Pastor Warren 12:15:


1. God, who always acts out of love and does what is best for us, thought up sex. Sex was God’s idea, not ours. Like fire, and many other things God gave us, sex can be used for good, or abused in ways that harm. The Designer of sex has clearly and repeatedly said that he created sex exclusively for husbands and wives in marriage. Whenever God’s parameters are violated, it causes broken hearts, broken families, emotional hurt and shame, painful memories, and many other destructive consequences. There would be so STDs in our world if we all played by the rules.
2. God gives me the free choice to follow his commands or willfully disobey them so I must allow others to have that same free choice. Loving, trusting, and obeying God cannot be forced. In America, people already have the civil right to live as they wish.
3. If anyone, whether unfaithful spouses, or unmarried couples, or homosexuals or anyone else think they are smarter than God and chooses to disobey God’s sexual instructions, it is not the US government’s role to take away their choice. But neither is it the government’s role to classify just any “loving” relationship as a marriage. A committed boyfriend-girlfriend relationship is not a marriage. Two lovers living together is a not a marriage. Incest is not marriage. A domestic partnership or even a civil union is still not marriage.
4. Much of this debate is not really about civil rights, but a desire for approval…for the rest, click here—and be sure to watch the video.



About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


7 Responses to “Three more blatant acts of bipartisan compromise by Obama: Salazar & Warren & Vilsack.”

  1. admin says:

    I asked Steve Fenberg of to review the above, ’cause I don’t know half what he does about these issues, and his reply was detailed and eloquent—and important—enought that I’ll just copy it here for you:

    Don’t see anything factually incorrect. But, I think it’s a little harsh and maybe even a bit short-sighted. Obama wouldn’t have the authority to get anything progressive done if he appointed a bunch of left-wing ideologues. It’s all about balancing appearance and action–something Obama is notoriously good at. He has a keen talent for messaging tot he American people. And anyways, Obama never claimed to be a left-winger. So, people shouldn’t really be shocked or feel betrayed by some of these appointments. I think he’s doing exactly what most politicos expected him to do. He’s obviously trying to learn from past presidents that he looks up to–Lincoln had a moderate cabinet and appointed former enemies, but he did do that little task of abolishing slavery. Just because Obama has a moderate cabinet doesn’t mean he will necessarily lose sight of the big picture and won’t bring in a new progressive era. – SF

  2. admin says:

    My response to Steve: Thanks, bro. Funny thing is I’m inclined to agree with your pov…but as you’ll see if you click on the facebook link, I got argued down.



  3. […] friend Waylon at elephant journal writes that Obama has… …done it again: miffed his progressive ideologue left wing […]

  4. Danny Fisher says:

    “Saddleback has been very successful at creating a moderate image for Warren because of his involvement with international relief efforts and things like the Evangelical Climate Initiative, but in actuality Warren really isn’t a moderate. He doesn’t believe in evolution; opposes gay marriage, stem-cell research, and reproductive rights; has called for the assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Fox News; and says that non-Christians–including Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, non-believers, and others–will go to hell. He’s also said that he differs from James Dobson only in ‘tone.’ Warren may have managed to cultivate an image for himself in the media as a moderate, but that’s just not the reality of what he stands for.”

  5. […] done a few posts on this subject. Three, actually. One, two, three. I’m still inclined to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, personally, and bring […]

  6. […] power of hardline bigots in the Evangelical Church, returning Christianity—if only by a small, compromised step—toward something that most Americans can relate […]

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