The first time I voted in a Presidential election was 1964. Remember, you had to be 21 years old back then. Like most other Americans, I cast my ballot for Lyndon Baines Johnson. On the list of things I regret in life, that would be somewhere on page 2. The problem of course is, you don’t want to know what’s on page 1.
I was anti-war in the 1960s. Who wasn’t? I “punished” Hubert Humphrey in 1968 by refusing to vote for him. I wasn’t alone. We sure showed him something, didn’t we? Instead we got Richard Nixon. Idiots! Served us right. Still, I didn’t vote for another Democrat (phony bastards!) until this year.
I voted for Barack Obama. So did Papa’s lovely and talented Momma, my wife Maria. We sent him money. We put his yard signs on our front lawn. Maria worked at a local Obama-Biden phone bank on Election Day, getting out the vote. I’m still wearing my bright blue OBAMA ’08 baseball cap.
I have some reservations about some of Obama’s appointees, thus far. But, I keep remembering the operative phrase is – his appointees – they work for him. When our federal system operates properly, in accordance with the Constitution, the President makes Executive Branch policy – not the Vice President – not some unnamed political advisors – not the unaccountable underlings, secreted safely in an undisclosed location, deep in the bowels of the Pentagon – and certainly not the Generals, Admirals and Commandants whose names we don’t know and whose pictures we couldn’t identify. I want a lawful government, for a change.
I expect the Obama Administration will be just that. So, I hold my reservations about folks like Hillary Clinton and Iowa’s Tom Vilsak and even Eric Holder who will be America’s first black Attorney General. And yes, I hold my nose and squeeze my sphincter at the thought of Bush’s Defense Secretary still showing up for work as the head honcho in the Pentagon. I trust none of them, but I have high hopes for Barack Obama as “Boss of Bosses.”
Now… to the problem at hand, the California clown, Rick Warren.
Someone needs to tell Mr. Obama – “Ok, we get it. You’re a Christian. You love Jesus. You are not a Muslim!” Someone needs to tell him – “The election is over. YOU WON!”
Show me a “religious leader” (that’s what you call them to lend them social credibility), and I’ll show you a fundraiser, a huckster, a charlatan, a phony or a fake (that’s what you call them when you’re looking for an accurate identification). Rick Warren, Joseph Lowry, the Ayatollah whatshisname, the Pope, the rabbi in Brooklyn who won’t step foot in Israel until the messiah comes back – they’re all cut from the same piece of cloth, slices of bread in the same loaf, all of them this far away from “Glengarry, Glen Ross,” barely a step removed from toting around a headset in a crowded phone bank in Bangalore– and none of them have any place in the governmental affairs of the American people. That includes the Inaugural ceremonies, at which Barack Obama will officially become the Most Powerful Human On Earth, scheduled for the 20th of next month.
I couldn’t care less how Rick Warren (or any of the other jokesters I name above) feels about gay marriage, a woman’s right of dominion over her own body (can you explain why we still talk about this as a “public issue” when the thought of questioning a man’s similar rights is unthinkable?), or where he stands on any issue of legitimate public consideration. Why should I care what Rick Warren, or any of these phony bastards, thinks about anything?
What Papa would have liked to see from a new President advocating “Change You Can Believe In” is an Inauguration in keeping with the separation of church and state; an Inauguration with no such nonsense as an opening and closing prayer; an Inauguration that didn’t supply a platform to any religion or any religious entrepreneur. By all means, let Aretha sing. Take your oath. Make your speech. Let’s party! Skip the rest.
Today, in my maturity, perhaps even in my sunset, Papa is an optimist. I like to think I’ve learned from and grown as a result of the mistakes of my younger days. I’ve forgiven myself for LBJ. So, for President Obama, I excuse his slavish obedience to the perceived political necessities of kissing the ass of Magical Thinking, and I take some consolation in the hope that the next administration will really end the wars, curb the commercial thieves and corporate criminals, bring American medicine into the modern world where the good health of a human being is a fundamental right, not a matter of private profit, and (if it can be done) revive our economy and save us from what appears to be our headlong slide into the same cold grave where lies the remains of all previous dominant Empires.
If, at the same time, Pastor Rick Warren happens to go broke (or worse), and gays get to be married (if that’s what they really want), that’ll be fine with me.