Friday, January 02, 2009

Matt Smith on history and forgetting

Matt Smith urges San Francisco to "grow up" in the current SF Weekly. Always good, if futile, advice for the many Peter Pans here in Progressive Land. But Smith's idea of embracing maturity involves rewriting the city's recent history:

Gavin Newsom's Winter of Love, and the years of legal wrangling and civic celebrating that followed, offered the seductive equivalent of an escapist childhood fantasy. What's not to like about Rosie O'Donnell flying to San Francisco to get hitched? But this feel-good story had a dark side. The Winter of Love was the self-aggrandizing project of one man who seemed to have little strategic insight into advancing the cause of gay rights...By the fall of 2008, many had forgotten that the Winter of Love was not a carefully planned tactic for advancing gay rights. Rather, it was originally conceived as a political consultant's trick designed to rescue Newsom from a well-financed recall effort that was building force in spring 2004. By the end of 2008, San Franciscans were forced to realize that there was nothing to be gained by believing in gift-bearing fairy-tale princes, even one with a PR apparatus as aggressive as Gavin Newsom's.

I too had "forgotten" that "a well-financed recall effort" was building in the Spring, 2004, because it isn't true. Newsom was elected Mayor of San Francisco in November, 2003, and a recall movement was already underway early in 2004? I'd like to see some evidence for that. What I remember is that Mayor Newsom introduced his gay marriage initiative in February, 2004, a mere three months after his election and two months after taking office.

What Newsom's "PR apparatus" must be grateful for is that people have apparently forgotten how his gay marriage initiative helped re-elect President Bush, as Republicans promptly used the issue effectively against Democrats---there were anti-gay marriage initiatives in eleven states---to win another close presidential election.

Democrats, including Dianne Feinstein and Barney Frank, criticized Newsom after Kerry's loss to Bush.

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