Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ruben Navarrette's Flip-Flop: Wrong to Criticize Obama on Warren, Fine to Criticize Obama on Clinton

I became familiar with Ruben Navarrette during the Democratic primaries. He was one of the few Latinos (among the few Latinos who are leading journalists at major papers) who clearly did not like Hillary Clinton.

Navarrette wrote several articles praising Obama and criticizing Clinton. During the general election coverage, however, he wrote about McCain with a somewhat sympathetic eye, even encouraging Latinos to consider voting for him in one article.

After the election ended and Obama began selecting members of his Cabinet, Navarrette wrote a scathing critique of Obama's decision to choose Clinton as Secretary of State. Navarrette believed that Bill Richardson should have received the position instead.

Navarrette challenged Obama's decision to appoint Clinton, arguing that she "doesn't have anywhere near Richardson's level of experience in foreign affairs . . . [and] she treated Obama reprehensibly during the primary. . . ." Navarrette also asserts that because Latino support for Obama was critical for his victory, "they deserve better" than the "parting gift" of Secretary of Commerce -- the position Richardson has accepted.

Although Navarrette passionately criticized Obama's decision to pick Clinton as Secretary of State, he has taken a noticeably different approach towards GLBT and pro-choice advocates who criticize the inclusion of Rick Warren in Obama's inauguration ceremony. Navarrette argues on CNN.Com that these groups should step back and accept Obama's wishes:

This is about a president-elect, who just came off a bruising 21-month campaign, exercising his prerogative to choose whoever he wants to deliver the blessing at his inauguration. It's about -- as President-elect Obama noted this week -- Americans learning to agree to disagree without becoming disagreeable.

It's about those on the left knowing how to win and how to savor victory without giving into the impulse to attack each other. And, finally, it's about recognizing that -- for those who feel like protesting Warren's appearance -- there is an ocean's worth of bigger fish to fry.

It's interesting. Many of those raising a fuss are talking about respect, demanding respect, insisting they're not given respect, etc. Well, that works both ways. If they want respect, they have to give it. They can start by respecting the wishes of the president-elect to plan his inauguration as he sees fit.

Interesting. Navarrette's assertion that Warren's protestors should respect Obama's wishes could have even more force regarding whom he selects for his Cabinet. Because presidents works very closely with Cabinet members, they should have a high degree of discretion to choose candidates they prefer. Also, had Latinos protested Obama's "snub" of Bill Richardson as Navarrette argues they could have legitimately done, this would have constituted the very in-fighting among the Left that Navarrette now condemns. I do not see these situations as materially distinct. Am I missing something?


Anonymous said...

Navarrette could not recognize a cogent argument if it was delivered on a silver platter, let alone create one. He is a conservative latino who votes republican as a way of attracting attention, and now that there are no conservative republicans of note to write about he is trying his idealogue manner on the democrats at the helm. He should work on his skills at reporting and keep his opinions to personal dinner conversation. Richardson was a great choice for Commerce Sec. and it is very unfortunate he is embroiled in the current scandal. I hope he gets it resolved to serve as Sec. of State in the second Obama administration.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

I got the impression that Navarrette was a conservative as well. This was just a "guess," but he was fairly "bad" on Clinton, good on Obama, but then switched to a mildly pro-McCain position. I cannot wait to see what he says about this situation. My guess: He will say that Obama wimped out and that he should find another Latino.

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