Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rick Warren's Fine; Vilsack and Salazar are the Problem

The only things we have to discuss these days are appointments, so they're getting all the attention. But the emphasis is backward. Obama selected Rick Warren to do the invocation at his inaguration and this has outraged righties more than cabinet picks Tom Vilsack (Agriculture) and Ken Salazar (Interior). What the hell?

Let's start with Warren. This pick is a political no-brainer. It costs Obama nothing to make the gesture and may gain him a lot. Say what you will about the waning authority of the Christian right; they're still a quarter of the electorate, the best organized and most-energized on certain issues. Antagonizing them from the start has the potential to hamstring his early efforts at things like Medicare.

And not to put too fine a point on it, they care about the invocation. Some large percentage of the people who oppose Warren aren't religious or aren't Christians. And Obama shouldn't be making decisions based on their views.

Now let's look at Vilsack. He's deep into ethanol and industrial farming. He comes from Iowa, the state most invested in skewing public policy toward industrial farming. Michael Pollan, who wants a Department of Food, not Ag, says, "He was biotech governor of the year. And he has very close relations to Monsanto.

Ken Salazar voted against CAFE standards, with Exxon, and is a friend of coal and mining:
Oil and mining interests praised Mr. Salazar’s performance as a state official and as a senator, saying that he was not doctrinaire about the use of public lands. “Nothing in his record suggests he’s an ideologue,” said Luke Popovich, spokesman for the National Mining Association. “Here’s a man who understands the issues, is open-minded and can see at least two sides of an issue.”

“Salazar has a disturbingly weak conservation record, particularly on energy development, global warming, endangered wildlife and protecting scientific integrity,” said Mr. Patterson, who was elected last month to the Arizona House of Representatives from Tucson and who supports fellow Arizonan Mr. Grijalva for the Interior job. “It’s no surprise oil and gas, mining, agribusiness and other polluting industries that have dominated Interior are supporting rancher Salazar — he’s their friend.”
Why are liberals wasting their time kvetching about Warren when these two jokers just got cabinet posts?

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