The plain and simple truth is that Obama has a much better chance of picking up evangelical votes with this pick than he does losing LGBT votes. If you want to look at this through a purely political lens its actually brilliant no two ways about it. Exit polls showed that he garnered 70% of the LGBT vote. How much higher a percentage could he possibly get from that constituency? But with evangelicals he only garnered about 30% of their votes and he has a whole lot of room to grow. The truth is whether we like it or not LGBT folk won't be voting Republican any time soon. Now maybe they stay at home but I am not buying it. Most of them aren't single issue voters and if Obama gets the economy back on track, gets us out of Iraq, and repeals DADT I can't see them risking letting Sarah Palin or Mike Huckabee both of which are TRUE gay haters come to power in 2012.
But with evangelicals you have to remember that there was a substantial bunch in the group that believed and perhaps still do believe that Obama is a muslim marxist socialist who kills babies and eats them for breakfast. We laugh but I have had to have heated arguments over people who were so caught up on the faux born alive scandal that they literally acted as if Obama was in a hospital some where with a hammer. And yet he still got almost 30 percent of that vote. And giving Rick Warren a platform at the inauguration is another thing that is going to make their head swirl about Obama. They are already amazed that he didn't name Bill Ayers as his Secretary of Defense. They are already amazed that Rev Wright isn't his Secretary of State. So now that he actually reached out to an evangelical who he clearly doesn't agree with on many issues he is going to at least make them question all of the beliefs they had about him pre election. And if he comes through on most if not all of his campaign pledges then many of those evangelicals are going to vote their best interests in 2012 rather than voting their fears.
Evangelicals are not some hive mind that are totally inflexible. The fact that many religious leaders are now coming out and saying that voting for a candidate that is pro choice is not a mortal sin shows that there is room for compromise IMHO. And whether people understand or get it or not, Rick Warren's followers are not just evangelicals. There are plenty of people who would never classify themselves as evangelical and might not even go to church who think his "Purpose Driven Life" books are the best books they have ever read. Hell I have a two different copies of the book here at my house that were both gifted to me for Christmas two years ago. Do you think that made me vote for McCain?
The real question in a political lens is this, do you try to reach out to a group of over 20 million who has bought books from this man and respect him and his opinions or do you try to reach out to a group that you already have over 70 percent support from and whom your opposition consistently and repeatedly villifies? I think the answer to that question is a no brainer.
Besides that think about what one of his potential rivals in 2012 has said about the Warren pick. Lets take MIke Huckabee.
HUCKABEE: Well, it’s ridiculous for people to be upset with Rick Warren. He’s one of the most influential spiritual leaders of this generation. I’ve known Rick for over 30 years. We were actually in seminary together in Ft. Worth, Texas, back in the mid-1970s. He is today what he always has been, and that’s a humble, gracious, thoughtful, very intellectual capable person. I think it’s a wonderful thing that Barack Obama reached out to him. I thought it was a tremendous expression on Barack Obama’s part. I’m proud that Rick Warren is going to do it and I think that people ought to recognize…look, that’s part of what being religious is all about. You have strong convictions and nobody is going to have a religious leader who is in agreement with everybody.
Now as the rival who is most likely to bring culturally conservative issues into the race for President in 2012 don't you think its going to be pretty hard for Huckabee to paint Obama as a radical after that kind of praise? Better yet between now and then you will have people like Sean Hannity who will HAVE to defend the choice of Warren to do the inauguration because he has aligned himself with Warren's views. So once again the hypocrisy will be on record for use four years from now.
As a more immediate political motive has anybody else noticed how the whole faux Blago Gate scandal wrt President Elect Obama has pretty much fizzled since the Warren choice came to light? Ask yourself a question, why was that information made available before the new year when they knew it would spark some controversy? Hmmmmm.
Now I will reiterate that yes Rick Warren is a bigot and yes I understand why people are upset about him giving the invocation. But you can't possibly convince me that this is a bad move politically. The invitation of Rick Warren to do the invocation is setting Obama up to do give a rear naked choke to his Republican opponents in 2012.
Update: Don't faint but even Pat Robertson has weighed in with support for President Elect Obama. From thinkprogress
Despite having “grave misgivings about him” earlier, Robertson said he now lauds Obama for picking a “middle-of-the road Cabinet.” “I’m very pleased so far,” he concluded