Warren Invite, Cabinet Picks Irk The Left

Liberal Dems aren't thrilled with some of Obama's recent decisions.

Dec. 19, 2008 — -- Once optimistic at having helped elect a president who promised them change, several liberal groups are now feeling slighted by President-elect Obama in his recent selections for his Cabinet as well as his decision to invite Pastor Rick Warren to his January inauguration.

Women's groups, gay rights organizations and environmentalists have spoken out against Obama's appointments and are fueling conversation that the president-elect is overlooking those who helped him win the White House.

Princeton presidential historian Julian Zelizer told ABCNews.com that it will be nearly impossible for Obama to avoid upsetting liberals as he tries to govern from a centrist perspective.

"As Obama makes decisions and turns from a candidate into a president he's going to make decisions that will anger some of his core supporters," said Zelizer. "He can't govern solely from the left. That will be politically impossible."

"[Balancing the left and the right] is one of the tensions he will have to balance before he's even president," said Zelizer. "When you have a campaign like Obama did, one that really brings out activists and people who are firmly committed to ideas, then it's even more likely you have this kind of clash."

Ted Sorensen, a longtime supporter of Obama's, said that he does not think the President-elect has any false hopes of appeasing everyone.

"Of course Obama is open to lots of different perspectives, but he doesn't strike me as the kind of man who tries to please everyone," said Sorensen.

Sorensen said he believes Obama is paying attention to the groups who are upset with his recent decisions, but it is too early to be overly concerned.

"The real time for testing is after Obama has been in office for a year or two or even more and inevitably there are those who had hopes of getting something more out of their [support][ than they actually will," he said.

Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization of Women, told ABCNews.com that women nationwide had expected a more gender-balanced Cabinet.

Obama has so far chosen only five women to be in his Cabinet -- counting Thursday's appointment of Rep. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., as labor secretary.

"It's true that even with the addition of Solis -- who is excellent -- there are still only three women who head departments and five women overall in the administration," said Gandy. "That's a lot of men."

"All of the women who supported President-elect Obama and Vice President Joe Biden believe that they are supporters of women's rights and had hoped for and expected some more tangible evidence of that in the Cabinet picks," said Gandy.

NOW is one of several women's groups that have joined forces to present a petition calling on Obama to create a Presidential Commission on Women during his first 100 days in office.

"I'm hoping that as Obama looks back and realizes how small the representation of women is in the Cabinet he'll seriously consider our request for an additional Cabinet-level [post] or office that would be a place for women to work for the inclusion of women and women's interests," said Gandy.

Gandy points out that women still only represent one-fourth -- 25 percent -- of Obama's Cabinet. There are 15 members of the Cabinet plus six Cabinet-level administrators.

"Women made up 56 percent of the Obama-Biden voters, we are close to 50 percent of the work force in the country and for decades have been getting the majority of degrees at every level, from Ph.D.s to law school, and yet we still are such a small minority in the top board rooms of the country starting with the Cabinet," she said.

"We want women in the Cabinet is because we want a critical mass of women to be at the table when policies are considered and 25 percent is probably less than most people would consider critical mass for really being heard."

Left Angry Over Obama's Invite of Warren

Obama announced earlier this week that conservative pastor Rick Warren would deliver the invocation at the presidential inauguration and defended his choice at a news conference Thursday in Chicago where he said, "It is no secret that I am a fierce advocate for equality for gay and lesbian Americans."

"What I've also said is that it is important for America to come together, even though we may have disagreements on certain social issues. … That's how it should be, because that's what America is about," said Obama.

But gay rights groups aren't so sure and said that inviting Warren to share the spotlight at such a historic event may not promote unity as much as the president-elect believes it will.

Marge Baker, the executive vice president of People for the American Way, said that Warren's presence at the inauguration seems to conflict with many of Obama's messages the community supported during the election.

"Warren's rhetoric marginalizes and dehumanizes and inflicts a great deal of pain on a lot of people out there," said Baker. "It seems contrary to the values that Obama had been talking about."

"What we understand is that the inauguration is a symbolic event," said Brad Luna, the communications director for The Human Rights Campaign. "We feel like it's an incredibly cynical choice by Obama to choose a man who has been a general in the culture war against our [lesbian,gay, bisexual and transgender] community."

"We felt this was a genuine blow to our community because the inauguration is not a policy roundtable discussion and not a place where you sit down and bring different perspectives together -- it's a symbolic gesture of our country," said Luna. "And to choose a religious leader who has really gone against Obama's views of bringing this country together really hits home."

"This disappoints our community -- a community that was so overwhelmingly in support of this candidate and that believed we were a part of the hope and change that Obama talked about so often during the campaign."

Agriculture, Transportation Posts Garner Heat From Left

Environmental groups such as the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy are concerned about Obama's appointment of former Gov. Tom Vilsack, D-Iowa, as agriculture secretary.

Jim Harkness, president of the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy, said that while Vilsack has positive attributes there is reason environmentalists preferred a different appointment.

"Vilsack is well known as a strong advocate for biotechnology and for being close to that industry," said Harkness. "He's also been a relatively uncritical supporter of corn ethanol, which is really not a sustainable solution for energy independence."

"We're also very concerned about how Vilsack tried to limit local governments to control the type of farming that goes on under their jurisdiction," he said, adding that Vilsack had often come out on the side of large corporations, which Obama has pledged to rein in.

"There are a number of other candidates with strong government experience who could have done a better job and not only fulfilling our priorities but also the priorities of the American food supply that Obama talked about," Harkness said.

Environmentalists are also uncertain about Obama's choice for interior secretary, Sen. Ken Salazar, D.-Colo. Critics claim that Salazar was willing to allow gas drilling in the state's national forests.

With reports that Obama will announce the appointment of Republican Rep. Ray LaHood for transportation secretary today, Democrats again told ABCNews.com that they had hoped the president-elect would choose differently.

On Wednesday, a longtime Democrat and a former transportation official in the Clinton administration told ABC's Lisa Stark that many Democrats are "greatly disappointed" by the pick.

"LaHood is a decent guy, but Democrats were anxiously looking for a Democrat to be in this position because it is a choke point for much of the economic stimulus package," said the source who asked to remain anonymous.