Barack Obama's selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inaugural ceremony may seem like a nice overture - a reassuring gesture - to the middle and the Right, but it is stirring up a great deal of grief on the Left.
This is exactly what Obama intends.
Let's back up for a moment: President Clinton went into office in 1993 and quickly alienated the public, resulting in an opposition Congress for the next 6 years. Clinton's later triangulation conceptually legitimated the policies of Republicans, but it put public approval (and some political capitabl) back behind Clinton.
But Barack Obama faces a much different situation. He will walk into office with a very solid majority Democratic Senate and House, and with overwhelming public favor. Obama does not have to seek the best deal he can get out of a Republican agenda; he does not have to moderate his policy agenda for a Republican Congress. Obama can set his own agenda....as long as he has the public on his side.
Clinton faced an opposition Congress, so he had to moderate on policy. Obama faces a friendly Congress, so he has to moderate on rhetoric.
I'm not sure why this rhetorical moderation is still a surprise to anybody. Obama has been doing this for awhile: he praised Reagan, recognized legitimate grievances of opponents of affirmative action, affirmed the excesses of New Deal/Great Society liberalism. But while each of those set aflutter the hearts of independents, moderates and the Right, none of them involved actual policy changes.
Most people have only a very superficial intersection with politics, so trivial gestures - like inviting an evangelical preacher to deliver the invocation for a Democratic President - are powerful. They send the signal to a low-information public that Obama is one of them, sympathetic to them, respectful of them...without actually requiring substantive political concessions of the Obama administration. And if the noisy Left cries foul at Obama's un-progressive rhetoric...well, so much the better for the substantive progressive agenda.
Rhetorically moderate, politically Left. Expect to see that over and over again from President Obama.