The folks who write for the Huffington Post, DailyKos and Firedoglake will never admit this, but Barack Obama did them all a big favor when he named Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inaugural.
As I noted earlier, Warren's appearance will come early in the program, probably before the oath of office is taken. Thus it will happen within the Bush Administration. Anything divisive that Warren might say will be immediately placed into the past, and he will thus be under enormous pressure to be inclusive, and not respond to his critics.
Second, the criticism. Warren was, until recently, best known as the author of The Purpose Driven Life, evangelism's fair-haired boy, a more natural successor to Billy Graham than Graham's own son. That's why he was one of the campaign's gatekeepers, offering twin discussions with Obama and rival John McCain that might have been McCain's best moments of the campaign.
Bloggers have spent the last few weeks tearing that down and have, to some extent, succeeded. Firedoglake revealed him as a creationist. Down with Tyranny called him a hate-monger. Warren even found himself scrubbing his Web site to try and stay relevant.
Notice what these posts have in common? They are offense. They are attacks, launched by the secular left against the religious right. And Warren has been forced to respond, defensively, giving ground while trying to keep criticism from his own right from knocking him off his pedestal.
This is not the way the game has been played for a long time. Not on social issues. Until now it has always been the Right that was attacking and the Left defending. That's how the Proposition 8 campaign won. Offense usually wears down defense in politics. That's how you move the ball forward.
Many on the left have been playing defense, and losing, for so long they have forgotten how to play offense. Obama gave them that opportunity, with the Warren announcement. To the extent that the criticisms have made Warren a controversial figure rather than the center of the American consensus they have succeeded. At some point in the next few months someone will write a headline or lede sentence "Controversial pastor Rick Warren" and the scope of the victory will become clear.
By shaking the Netroots out of its post-election complacency Barack Obama has done them an enormous favor, and done himself one as well. He will need an army of bloggers behind him to get his platform through, and that platform is as revolutionary as the times we are living in. Everyone likes to compare the man to Lincoln but I find him increasingly an FDR figure, able to manipulate masses of people with the slightest touch.