The Warren Invitation: Calculated Political Maneuvering That May Backfire

President-elect Obama got just what he wanted in exchange for the invitation he extended to the Rev. Rick Warren to give the invocation at his Inauguration on Jan. 20. He has infuriated progressives who opposed Proposition 8 in California, but was showered with praise by Warren, a very powerful player Obama needs to keep and attract evangelical support in the next four years.

The money quote Warren gave almost sounds like the Obama team wrote it for him:

"I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn't agree on every issue, to offer the invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony," Warren said in a statement.

Of course, Obama hasn't done anything to impede gay rights by including Warren, and he remains opposed to gay marriage as he has declared all along, like when he attended a forum in August at Warren's Saddleback Church. But Obama certainly didn't have to invite him, and knew he would insult his base by doing it.

Today he has angered the left. But in the end, Obama's calculated political maneuvering will anger the right far more, should he box them in by straddling the center. At this time, when we should think of what unites us rather than what divides us, we can agree on one thing: At least it’s not the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.


CAROLINE KENNEDY HAS SKIPPED VOTING IN NUMEROUS ELECTIONS — WILL IT MATTER? Ask A.B. returns Monday, Jan. 5. Please join my weekly video Q & A by sending your questions and comments to askab@thehill.com. Have a wonderful holiday, and see you in 2009!

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