Sunday, April 01, 2007

The groovy people challenge "downtown"

Mayor Newsom has had his problems of late, most of which have been entirely of his own making. But he continues to be fortunate in his political opposition in San Francisco, which is consistently peurile and narcissistic. This is nicely illustrated by two different accounts of a political party last Thursday night. There is H. Brown's account on Fog City and Cecilia Vega's in the SF Chronicle ("Dedicated Newsom Bashers," March 31, 2007). The event was sponsored by the League of Young Voters and an anti-Newsom website, The latter is put out anonymously, a chickenshit approach typical here in Progressive Land---take a strong political stand while hiding behind anonymity. (You can see this militant lamenesss in full flower on SF's two political chatboards, The Wall and Junto where anonymity is the norm for those who post.)

If he was a more disciplined writer, Brown might be able to write a good political gossip column, sort of a fringe-left Matier and Ross. Instead, his writing is full of the worst kind of left-wing self-righteousness and self-congratulation. In Brown's little PC world, the assumption is that everyone on the city's left is smarter and more virtuous than those of us in the political center and on the right. His lefty pals are "geniuses," while Mayor Newsom is "the enemy" who represents the "Downtown financial juggernaut."

Brown gratuitously insults Vega, who was obviously on the job at the party, in his first paragraph:

She had her little notebook to make certain she got the names right but she was completely clueless as to what she was watching...Vega was uncomfortable and scribbled incessantly. There were lots more people there and they'll remind me that I forgot to mention them. But, we started this with Vega and let's end it with her. She and [channel #4's Jonathan Blue are the new face of corporate journalsim. Low pay. Increased duties. Clipped wings. In the middle of the hundred or so free-lancers, they stood out by the way of their tense body language.

Brown might try using a "little notebook" himself, since he often gets his facts wrong. What did Brown think Vega was seeing? Nothing less than "the nerve center of the Progressive Media[why the caps?] war camp. All these geniuses who'd been fighting in this gladiatorial Spring training were slapping each other on the back, shooting down double bourbons, and going from display after display of posters, stickers, video clips, short films...all blasting incumbent Mayor Gavin Newsom." Vega, on the other hand, correctly labeled the get-together as merely an "anti-Newsom party." Clipped wings and all, Vega wrote a much better account of the event than "free-lancer" Brown.

Posing with a cut-out of Mayor Newsom, Brown provides a sample of the vulgarity that passes for wit on the city's left:

Newsom was actually there. I got my picture taken with him. In one of them, I was squeezing his balls while a six foot chicken squawked in delight and shutters clicked and the instant image flashed upon TV screens placed here and there. It was, of course, a cardboard cutout but it was emblematic of how creativity can beat raw bucks.

Har, har. What's going to win the mayoral campaign against Newsom for all the groovy people on the city's left? Forget about issues, which Brown barely mentions. He thinks it will be all about that media creativity he and his genius friends have:

This group is trouble down the road for Team Newsom. Talent trumps cash more and more every day in the field of political technology. While Rob Arnow has handed Progressives the key to the vault of public funding, that isn't what will make the difference in this coming mayoral campaign. Naw, it will be the thousands of cartoons and videos and songs and general irreverent mockery that will bring down the Getty Humpty-Dumpty.

Brown offers no evidence for this whimsical prophecy, any more than he offers evidence that the left has media talent, though they clearly have a large capacity for vulgarity, self-regard, and self-indulgence.

Like all progressives, Brown pretends to despise the mainstream media, but he was thrilled when Channel 7's Dan Noyes shows up to mingle with the riff-raff:

Dan Noyes was ranking media personality and he took the night off to socialize. He's a family man with a career and doesn't often venture into such a crowd without a camera, soundperson and makeup. He's also smart as hell and I was surprised that when I introduced him to Marc Salomon that it was the first time they'd met.

What possible significance can that meeting have? Maybe because Salomon was one of the people wearing a chicken outfit harassing the mayor at one of his recent community events, and Noyes seems to be exploring the line between journalism and stalking with his encounters with the mayor.

Vega at least tries to determine the issues the Groovy People hope to use to defeat Newsom:

The list of complaints that attendees have about the mayor is long: Newsom takes credit for ideas that weren't his. He focuses too much on photo-ops and not enough on substance. The Municipal Railway doesn't run on time. He refuses to show up and answer questions at Board of Superivsors meetings, as a non-binding measure passed last year by voters asked him to do. He vetoed legislation to close Golden Gate Park to cars on Saturdays.

Vega accurately calls this grab-bag of half-baked notions "complaints" instead of "issues," since none of them have any substance or are likely to interest city voters. On his veto of the ordinance that would have closed Golden Gate Park to autos on Saturdays: City voters already rejected this idea decisively in 2000, and there's no indication that they've changed their minds about it since. And the "question time" issue is another triviality: The vote was non-binding, and the whole thing was the brainchild of ultra-left Supervisor Chris Daly, who was hoping to lure Newsom into a media circus, not engage him substantively on the issues.

Accusing the mayor of doing too many photo-ops is rich coming from a political tendency whose defining characteristic is exhibitionism. Vega talked to Dean Barbella, who owns the website, at the party. How serious is Barbella? Turns out he really wanted, but somebody already had that domain name, so he settled for the one with Newsom's name: "My message isn't really anti-Gavin. It's that I want a better San Francisco...But Gavin Newsom does suck because San Francisco isn't what she should be." A "better San Francisco"? Now there's an inspiring slogan! At least Barbella isn't hiding behind anonymity. He just happens to be a political nullity.

Vega also talked to Patrick Monk, who worked in the Gonzalez campaign in 2003. Monk, who couldn't remember how old he was, told Vega: "You should look at my bike helmet, and see the stickers all over it...It's a testament to lost causes, and I believe in every single one of them." (This reminds me of the guy in the 40-Year Old Hippie comic book of days of yore: "I've had 200 acid trips, and every one has been a bummer. But I keep on trying!")

These are the people who're going to beat Newsom in November? The party of guys dressed like chickens and Like I say, Newsom is fortunate in his political opposition.

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