Barack Obama | Inauguration | Rick Warren

Washington Post's Cohen to Obama: The Party's Off

Richard Cohen's editorial in the Washington Post gets to the point, quite well, I think, attacking Obama's failings as a moral leader. Here's the end of it:

Cohen"I can understand Obama's desire to embrace constituencies that have rejected him. Evangelicals are in that category and Warren is an important evangelical leader with whom, Obama said, 'we're not going to agree on every single issue.' He went on to say, 'We can disagree without being disagreeable and then focus on those things that we hold in common as Americans.' Sounds nice. But what we do not 'hold in common' is the dehumanization of homosexuals. What we do not hold in common is the belief that gays are perverts who have chosen their sexual orientation on some sort of whim. What we do not hold in common is the exaltation of ignorance that has led and will lead to discrimination and violence. Finally, what we do not hold in common is the categorization of a civil rights issue -- the rights of gays to be treated equally -- as some sort of cranky cultural difference. For that we need moral leadership, which, on this occasion, Obama has failed to provide. For some people, that's nothing to celebrate. The party's off."

Well said.

Warren On? Party Off. [washington post]

Rick Warren Staging Gay-Related West Hollywood Photo Ops? [tr]
Rick Warren Says Gays Use Hate Speech, Have 'Christ-O-Phobia' [tr]
Biden, Etheridge Talk Rick Warren as Calls to Dump Him Continue [tr]
As Obama Bakes, Rick Warren Controversy Simmers [tr]

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  1. i read this in the paper this morning and was tempted to cut the whole piece out and save it.

    well said, indeed. :-)

    Posted by: liz templin | Dec 23, 2008 3:12:48 PM

  2. I received a mailing this morning from the Obama people (One of their mass emails). I went to the unsubscribe button. When asked why I was leaving their email base I told them that between the Rick W insult and the lack of any GLBT person appointed to date that I felt betrayed and wanted nothing to do with the administration. I would suggest a campaign to unsubscribe from his email list would be appropriate.

    Posted by: DCS | Dec 23, 2008 3:28:52 PM

  3. Cohen is often clueless when it comes to politics but here he hits a home run -- thanks to his sister. This is the beating ehart of it, boys and girls. The closet is fast becomign a relicf the past. When we're out and proud and standing on our own two feet to defend ourselves rhe 'phobes can't deal with it. When "Teh Ghey" is your own sister they can't be seen as an "other."

    This is why we're winning!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Dec 23, 2008 3:31:53 PM

  4. DE, I think you're totally right.

    ps. stay away from the comments board for this article over at It is full of bible-thumping bigots, right-wing yahoos and some black commentators who are tired of gays saying this is a civil rights issue b/c gays did not endure slavery and b/c it is easier to hide "the gay" than "the black" (ok, in fairness, the quotes were mine, but I thought it was funny) Here is the question I have, what black guy has ever endured slavery that is alive today? *crickets* That's b/c it ended, and is irrelevant to the matter...who suffered more is not the issue, it is equal rights and equal treatment under the law...sounds pretty much like the civil rights movement to me!

    Posted by: ERB | Dec 23, 2008 3:39:34 PM

  5. The party was never on for most progressives as they saw Obama was not going to ever provide leadership for any ideals that we believe in. In this polarized political world where moderate has dropped off the radar and only liberal and conservative are used to describe candidates and all democrats are liberal and all republicans are conservative--I can
    understand why folks would think Obama was a liberal progressive-he never was and never will be a champion for human rights and civil rights -he is a moderate at best and a product of the mediocrity that now envelops American politics and he will not rock the boat on either side.

    Posted by: Nick | Dec 23, 2008 3:41:21 PM

  6. Some people keep saying that the skirmishes over Warren's invitation are foolish and counterproductive. I disagree.

    We're at a tipping point.

    Either you think gays are worthy of respect and equal treatment in US law or you don't. Warren clearly doesn't, and he bans them from his church.

    I'm profoundly disappointed by Obama's crass insensitivity. The GLTB community just had their rights stripped from them by a majority action that Warren supported; then, week after week we hear of violent or fatal attacks on GLTB citizens - and now to cap it off, the USA just disgraced itself by joining with Iran and Zimbabwe in refusing to sign the UN decleration on equal rights of LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, intersexed and questioning) people.

    You feeling me?

    I'm DONE asking nicely. I'm done listening to self-regarding bloated right wing toads compare gays to incestuous pedophiles.

    Richard Cohen's right, the party's off.

    Posted by: FASTLAD | Dec 23, 2008 3:49:29 PM

  7. What concerns me about Obama is his apparent line of thinking. He seems to think that just because he's got a pro-gay pastor as well as an anti-gay pastor, he's suddenly balancing out the negative. Therefore, in Obama's eyes, Obama's being "good" to us. This is typical liberal male thinking, folks. I've been warning about this for months. It's the typical line of thinking which is born from an innate lack of understanding of the importance of gay civil rights.

    Obama is treating us like Pavlov's dog, smacking us down when it suits him and feeding us a carrot when he wants a favor from us.

    Posted by: jason | Dec 23, 2008 4:07:10 PM

  8. Don't just unsubscribe. Tell them the Gay Cash Cowherd is DRY until O stops trivializing US while ennobling sexist, antiSemitic, homohating pigs like Warren!

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Dec 23, 2008 4:07:12 PM

  9. Yes, the Party is OFF!!If every fairminded person/organization/entity choose not at attend the various events or cancel an event they were hosting (ATT: HRC, LCC, NGLTF, GLADD, etc) that would make a show and an impact! As for me i have already emailed the BO people and told them I AM NOT SUPPORTING him for his re-election (since i already voted once for him that is more then enough!)
    SO if you are planning to attend ANY EVENT during the inauguration then CANCEL your RSVP!

    Posted by: Alex In Boston | Dec 23, 2008 4:12:27 PM

  10. Yes, the Party is OFF!!If every fairminded person/organization/entity choose not at attend the various events or cancel an event they were hosting (ATT: HRC, LCC, NGLTF, GLADD, etc) that would make a show and an impact! As for me i have already emailed the BO people and told them I AM NOT SUPPORTING him for his re-election (since i already voted once for him that is more then enough!)
    SO if you are planning to attend ANY EVENT during the inauguration then CANCEL your RSVP!

    Posted by: Alex In Boston | Dec 23, 2008 4:13:21 PM

  11. I agree with DCS. I too unsubscribed, and told them the reason why and stated that he has lost my future vote and any future campaign donations.

    Posted by: Mooney | Dec 23, 2008 4:47:28 PM

  12. I'm not ready to burn any bridges. Obama will be president for the next four years. However, I will neither forget. Has the time come for me to leave the Democratic party? Maybe. If the LGBT community abandoned the Democratic Party en mass and moved to the Green Party, that would certainly make a powerful statement.

    Posted by: Ken | Dec 23, 2008 4:56:31 PM

  13. Rarely do I agree with Richard Cohen, but he is on "all fours" with this commentary. While I do not agree that "the party is off" I believe that this is but the first of more disappointments to come, with likely inaction on DOMA and DADT heading the list. The transition advisers badly misjudged how offensive this invitation would be perceived. Obama remains a better President than McCain for selecting Supreme Court justices and Courts of Appeal judges but I fear that we will see very little positive change for gay civil rights because they appear not to be viewed as such by the inner circle.

    Posted by: rudy | Dec 23, 2008 5:04:30 PM

  14. I sincerely hope that everyone attending the inauguration, anyone with any reservations or concerns about Warren's views, silently turn away from the speaker during his three minutes. Maybe, just maybe Obama, Warren and someone in middle America will get the message that this is not a message that Jesus would support.

    Posted by: bozeman | Dec 23, 2008 5:17:45 PM

  15. Don't be fooled by Richard Cohen. He is a ultra-con neo-con through and through.

    His pieces for these past years have all supported bush and cheney. Praised the Iraq war. Dissed all dems who questioned our Iraq policies. Dissed both Obama and Hillary and praised mcshame and palin.

    He is no friend of anyone not a repub. He is an opportunist just concern trolling to continue his attacks against a non repub.

    Seriously go back through the WAPO archives and read his BS. You will want to take a shower and not embrace this dude

    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Dec 23, 2008 5:43:07 PM

  16. Absolutely fantastic writing by Mr. Cohen.

    I concur with DCS about the unsubscribing campaign. We need to use whatever communication channels we can, particularly after they apparently stopped allowing comments at after receiving an avalanche of criticism (so much for the experiment in transparency and participation!).

    Jason: Pavlov studied respondent conditioning in dogs (e.g., dogs salivated to a bell after a bell had been paired with food), *not* what you are describing, which sounds like operant conditioning -- a different phenomenon.

    Posted by: Joe Radio | Dec 23, 2008 5:59:05 PM

  17. Jimmy, that makes no sense. If he's had odious opinions before, does that mean we shouldn't even *read* the article if he has something good (and open-minded and well-written and progressive) to say in our defense?

    A broken clock is still correct twice a day.

    Posted by: Pete | Dec 23, 2008 6:02:15 PM

  18. I'll get on board with the unsubscribe campaign. Someone just create a Facebook group and watch it go...

    Posted by: Jay | Dec 23, 2008 6:21:40 PM

  19. Pete

    You are right. Broken clocks are correct twice a day.

    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Dec 23, 2008 7:13:53 PM

  20. Well we have gone to facebook with an Unsubscribe Campaign.

    Posted by: DCS | Dec 23, 2008 8:27:05 PM

  21. Winning? What exactly have we won?

    Posted by: anon | Dec 23, 2008 8:47:10 PM

  22. Jimmyboyo, you beat me to the punch about Cohen. He's an asshole and a joke.

    What I find interesting is that Cohen is clearly a Repug opportunist who I doubt very seriously could give a good rat's ass about gays. His agenda is to stick it to the Left using whatever is at his disposal and regardless of whether there is any truth to what he writes. And this "scandal" has given him plenty of ammo. But because his column panders to the general ire of the gay "community," he gets a pass...from the very same people who accuse Obama of being an opportunist pandering to the Right.

    If gays think it's OK to praise a dual-minded, neo-con "broken clock" like Cohen for his support while opposing his general views, then how is that different from Obama accepting Warren's support while opposing his general views?

    If Warren saying a prayer is a slap in the face, isn't Cohen's pandering to the gays to score points for Repugs just as insulting? Are there two sets of rules here? Isn't that hypocritical?

    Posted by: Q | Dec 23, 2008 11:18:50 PM

  23. Thanks for posting this eloquent and intelligent piece! Well said and very succinctly. i wish more people understood why this invitation of Warren is so disturbing. Instead we are told it is no big deal, it's only symbolic, and get over it.

    Happy Holidays!

    Warm Regards,

    Existential Punk

    Posted by: Existential Punk | Dec 24, 2008 3:06:06 AM

  24. yeah, JIMMYBOYO, cohen has often been on the wrong side of the argument as it pertains to bushco. but, he supports "choice" and gay rights, and he sometimes makes a good point, to wit, "Israel itself is a mistake" ... "The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now."

    let's give credit where credit is due (para que se le quita?). in this case, cohen was right on the money. his was a cogent argument against the blarney that obama has been proffering vis' a vis the warren debacle.

    i have to stop stewing about this, otherwise i will be good to no one over the holidays.

    anyhoo, happy holiday to all you towleroadie queers! may the gods and goddesses be good to you all.

    Posted by: nic | Dec 24, 2008 9:36:03 AM

  25. Religious folk say Gays are destroying our society. This argument is very similar to the tactics that Hitler used to convince the German people that all the economic and social problems in pre-war Nazi Germany were the fault of the Jews.

    Posted by: LeeBoe | Dec 24, 2008 11:10:04 AM

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