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Many conservatives hope political pressure will force Obama to move to the center. There’s indeed good reason to expect that he will pursue a moderate economic and foreign policy, but he seems wholly set on preserving and strengthening the Roe regime and supporting other socially liberal causes.

But what, then, to make of his decision to have Rick Warren pray at his inauguration? Gay rights advocates are (as usual) outraged by the perceived affront, but does it really indicate a willingness to meet social conservatives halfway? It seems probable to me that the Obama years will be heavy on symbolic gestures and light on real compromises. He will only need to be careful that his liberal base does not mistake symbols for substance and so threaten mutiny.

One must also ask a question about Rev. Rick Warren: Why did he accept? Like Cardinal Egan’s inviting Sen. Obama to the Al Smith Dinner, this seems to really send the wrong message: “Sure, you and I disagree about the acceptability of government-protected and -sponsored infanticide. But this disagreement surely isn’t so important that we can’t share some fun and touching moments, especially when we both stand to gain?” There may be no strict principles governing decisions like this, but prudence suggests that this would have been a very good time for a little Christian witness.



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