Saturday, November 08, 2008

Rewriting city history

As a political commentator (below in italics), Luke Thomas of Fog City Journal is a pretty good photographer. I'd like to see some evidence that, when newly-elected Mayor Newsom hatched the gay marriage initiative in February, 2004, he and his advisors did it with the 2007 election in mind. What's most striking about that initiative is how ill-considered it was politically. 

2004 was an election year and serious consideration would have shown that doing it in February was bad timing, as Senator Feinstein and other Democrats pointed out at the time. Why not wait until after the November election? Instead, after Newsom's initiative in San Francisco, the gay marriage issue was used effectively by the Republicans to mobilize their base against John Kerry and help George Bush win another close election.

Like many city progressives, Thomas not only gets the gay marriage issue wrong; he doesn't even mention the issue that got Newsom elected mayor in the first place---homelessness. In response to public pressure about the growing squalor on city streets, then-Supervisor Gavin Newsom introduced Care Not Cash in 2002, which city voters passed, grateful that at least one city leader was willing to do something to deal with the distressing problem. City voters were so grateful they elected Newsom Mayor of San Francisco the next year after a campaign dominated by the homeless issue.

Since this happened only five years ago, isn't it a little early to rewrite history?

Newsom's Bid for Governor Halted?

By Luke Thomas
November 6, 2008

It’s tough to dump on a guy when he’s down, but Mayor Gavin Newsom’s bed was made when it was decided his 2007 mayoral reelection was all but guaranteed---if he just championed same-sex marriage in San Francisco.

That was when Newsom and his one-move-ahead handlers weren’t thinking beyond the insulated confines of Room 200, or about a possible run for governor in 2010, or the political risks associated with pitting same-sex marriage against an army of well-organized religious fundamentalists.

Had Californians torpedoed Prop 8 Tuesday, Newsom would be riding high today, deserving to express the ill-advised glee that agitated the Yes on Prop 8 hornets nest. But with the passage of Prop 8, questions about Newsom’s political survival are justifiably being raised.

To add insult to injury, all indicators point to Newsom losing his bid to undo an eight-year progressive majority on the Board of Supervisors and the ultimate prize of controlling its agenda through its presidency.

Of course, Mr. Newsom will be most remembered for his courage in championing an important civil rights issue, no matter how the idea got its footing. But gifting his opponents the very weapon used to defeat same-sex marriage is the mistake likely to have ended his bid for California governor---and it may be his political Waterloo.

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