01/19/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Choosing Pastor Warren: Callous or Cunning?

Like the rest of the progressive world I've been trying to figure out why the usually so careful Obama team would give Pastor Warren the pole position speaking at the inauguration. Certainly in the short term it was an unnecessarily insensitive choice, and it's disturbing to see many unquestioning Obama supporters like CNN's Roland Martin try to rationalize it.

In the short term the choice is needlessly hurtful to all the tens of millions of homosexuals, relatives of gay people seeking equal protection under the law for their loved ones, and progressives.

But what if the Obama team is thinking more than just one move ahead on the chess board? What if they plan on actual actions to bring long overdue civil rights to the nation's last unprotected minority? Wouldn't they need to peel off a few leaders from the religious right? Wouldn't relatively reasonable Pastor Warren be one of the most logical people to start with?

I'm not saying don't be hurt and incensed. Scream, yell, protest. I'm just saying let's revisit this decision in a while and judge it again.

The reality is that right now priority number one is the economy. Nothing else will change until it does. Priority two are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the unrest in Pakistan. Those issues will take at least two years to wrestle back into some state of control. But if Obama succeeds on those two fronts then he will have unprecedented political capital.

Let's see then if he spends it on the social issues that will finally transform America into a more caring, more modern democracy.