Some Straight Talk from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom You May Have Missed

“Re-thinking” and “strategizin’ ” are popular topics amongst political types to the left of G. W. Bush. This past week members of the Young Democrats of America held their national convention in San Francisco, and the talk was punctuated with some hard realizations doing “business as usual” wasn’t going to cut it anymore. Good.
What struck me most, though was the coverage of the event in the local press barely made mention of their own mayor’s remarks, and those that did gave it short shrift, presumably because he’s not on the “politically orthodox” side of politics.
Which is unfortunate. That’s because in a time when you have so many Democratic politicians in Washington DC running around thinking they’re in charge of things, when they’re not, and you have lifetime political hacks from D.C. running around, grabbing corporate cash and attacking party chairman Howard Dean for daring to act like, well, a Democrat, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s remarks were a breath of fresh air.
Here’s a quote, from the San Francisco Bay Guardian, that’s worth a look:
“I am not popular in my party,” he said. “What’s the point of winning if you can’t advance your principles? You can’t talk in ideals unless you are willing to manifest them…We need more clarity in our party,” Newsom said. “It’s about integrity.”
You’d think a statement like that, coming from the guy who’s had to take crap from wealthy, psueudo-Democratic battle-axe Dianne Feinstein, and who decided to stand on principle on an issue that was not going to get him any points in a future political career would be applauded, if not by the supposedly progressive Bay Guardian, then at least by the allegedly powerful “liberal blogosphere.”
While I can forgive the latter for not reporting and amplifying Newsom’s remarks since there’s no way for them to know what’s up without being able to read it somewhere, I have to take issue with the Guardian, both for their burial of what would seem to be a bold, progressive statement, and for their coverage of the event in general.
It becomes obvious in a situation like this that no matter what Mayor Newsom says, because he was Not The Politically Correct Person saying said statement, they had to bury it in a half-assed piece about the YD’s.
You almost get the sense that there’s such a determination to slam Mayor Newsom as “Willie Brown, Part Deux” (even though he’s not), they can’t even concede one little piece of decent coverage.
News flash: Mayor Newsom is not perfect, lefty folks. We know that. But trying to demonize the guy and being unable to concede on principle when he’s done some great things ultimately kills La Causa a hell of a lot better than the Ghost of Satan Willie Brown could or will. It shows an inability to grasp today’s political terrain, and a desire to return to what I call the “Bad Good Old Days” – when it was easy to be on
But there’s a bigger issue. You’d think that they’d send someone to, oh I don’t know, try and cover the issues at hand at said convention, and perhaps engage in a little reporting, maybe even quoting some people and attaching names to quotes. Even better, send a young person who’se politically savvy to try and bring the perspective of the people these folks are tryin’ to reach.
Instead the Guardian sent an old college professor whose experience with the Young Democrats dates back to the 1950s. That’s great. But nowhere in this coverage does any real history of the group get told, to place anything that happened at the convention itself in context.
The author clearly went over there with a presupposed concept in mind: the tired old saw of “How the 1960s are Still The Best Years for Activism Ever” and the new hack, “Oh You Democrats Didn’t Talk About The War As Much as I Deem You Should (Even Though I Didn’t Bother to Cover Most of the Convention Anyway).”
Hmm. Sounds like a bad country song. Oh, but I digress.
But to wind it up: Not only did the Guardian make a mis-step in under-reporting their own elected officials’ statements at a natinoal convention in their home town, they also blew a chance to do some real research and come up with a story that might have told the reader a little more about the proceedings and asked some hard questions.
Instead, we got yet another iteration of the old “60’s Great/Today Bad” rhetoric that makes me literally ill every time I hear it. The 60s have been over for some time now, folks. Smokin’ pot and marching a lot may have been the way to go back then. But to make a difference today, one has to get with the times, not try and re-enact the 60s the way those Civil War buffs do so on battlefields in the South.
UPDATE: It seems in my haste to post something, I made the mistake of not noting Pat Murphy’s coverage of said convention at his local news website, SF Sentinel that included coverage of Mayor Newsom’s remarks.
Many people have opinions of Pat Murphy’s work – whatever they say, I still find it a good local resource for many events that don’t always get covered by the Big Papers In Town, and Pat’s never shy about his opinions, or labeling them as such. Kudos to Pat for covering more of the Mayor’s speech.
© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at

Leave a Reply