December 29, 2008

Choice of Warren won't define Obama

While it was no doubt well-intended, I think Katha Pollitt's column "Extremist pastor is an insulting choice" (Commentary, Dec. 23) illustrates why Democrats have had trouble electing national candidates in recent years.

On behalf of several special-interest groups, Ms. Pollitt is put out that Pastor Rick Warren will deliver the invocation at President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration. Along the way, she describes the offended groups as the "base" of the Democratic Party.

But such a "base" is clearly not representative of those who elected Mr. Obama. His success was based on an appeal to many centrist voters who passed on voting for Al Gore or John Kerry in the last two national elections.

As a Republican seeking practicality, competence and intelligence (qualities sadly lacking in our national leadership these last eight years), I voted for Mr. Obama, as did many of my friends from both parties.

I have no argument with the values and needs of the groups Ms. Pollitt cites. But my values and moral positions are mine alone. I don't expect my government either to validate or enable them.

Pastor Warren may not have been my choice as a single representative of the faith community for this prominent event. However, my choice might have offended the constituencies Ms. Pollitt cites or other groups. Who knows?

But I won't judge the new president on any one choice or decision, because I (like the majority of Americans, I suspect) am not a single-issue citizen.

David Kirby, Baltimore

Obama is fulfilling promise of inclusion

Pastor Rick Warren was dead wrong on California's Proposition 8 regarding gay marriage, and it's clear from his clumsy comments that he understands neither gays and lesbians nor the democratic principle that "all men are created equal," which suggests that no one should be denied his or her civil liberties as a result of their race, religion or sexual orientation ("Extremist pastor is an insulting choice," Commentary, Dec. 23).

But the pastor isn't wrong about everything, including issues such as AIDS, hunger, global warming, poverty, torture and health care. And his work on these issues has helped move evangelicals toward broader and more moderate perspectives.

President-elect Barack Obama ran on a platform that promised that he would offer dialogue, bridge divides and not demonize those with whom he disagrees - even about core issues.

So far, our president-to-be has kept his word to the American people, and he deserves the chance to show by his actions whether his commitment to equality and to the gay and lesbian community is real.

Roger C. Kostmayer, Baltimore

No reason to support endless pregnancies

I was amazed to read The Baltimore Sun's perspective on the problems of a young mother in a recent editorial ("Help for young mothers," Dec. 22).

Here is an unmarried woman who, at 19 years old, became pregnant and unfortunately lost the twins she was expecting. She has given birth to three children, all out of wedlock, and is in the process of having her fourth child. And The Baltimore Sun's major concern seems to be lack of public support for health care for her pregnancies.

It would better serve the community and the young woman to encourage her to learn about birth control and about how to handle her own responsibilities so that she does not get pregnant if she can't afford to raise her children or get proper medical care for herself.

It is not society's obligation to support an unlimited number of babies for people who can't or won't take responsibility for their actions.

There are many people who have medical problems and cannot take care of themselves - these are the people whose stories The Baltimore Sun should tell.

Irwin Neil, Pikesville

Reaction to care center seems way overblown

Wow. Based on how upset many people are about Keswick Multi-Care Center's plan to build an assisted-living facility, you would think the people of Roland Park believe it is a prison or undergraduate student housing that is under consideration ("Readers speak out on Roland Park assisted-living facility," Dec. 23).

Lighten up, you NIMBYs.

Robert S. Abramson, Baltimore

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