The San Francisco mayor's race feels like a murder-suicide pact between our disproportionately hefty cohort of political operatives and the electorate. Most people don't think of political campaign consultants as the centerpiece of a public works jobs program, but that's the kind of out-of-the-box thinking we San Franciscans are known for. Makes me almost miss my favorite esoteric San Francisco political melee. It was when voters had to decide if there was an Armenian genocide, and if so, would it marginalize Turks to allow its recognition on the ground by the Mt Davidson cross? Almost.
For the many of us who are achingly disappointed that Obama has governed to the right of Nixon rather than to the left of Clinton, San Francisco is a splash in the face of cold, stale PBR. Yes, Obama hasn't sustained his transcendent campaign by advancing anything resembling a progressive agenda. Yes, Obama has perfected a strategy of preemptive capitulation to rapacious rapturous ideologues. (I guess your adversaries have no leverage on you if you surrender before the battle begins.) Yes, Obama has prioritized "compromise" over both "negotiation" and "good ideas." (How'd you like to get the call that the police were sending in their "Hostage Compromiser" to save your loved ones?)
But it's hard to get too indignant about Obama when in San Francisco, we can't elect a progressive mayor blindfolded with our hands tied behind our backs by a feminist dominatrix earning a living wage in a solar-powered basement dungeon. If we deserved our reputation, John Avalos would now be blithely striding to victory like Godzilla in Hoboken. Our image would be ruined if the gargoyles at Fox News knew that our economic development program was based on yachting instead of turning Larry Ellison's house and body cavities into a supportive housing compound. They'll suspect we're angling to pass for Connecticut or Nantucket, not the City of Harvey Milk and Harry Bridges.
The entrance of Ed Lee to the mayor's race has summoned a political shoutathon about his integrity and dishonesty. "He was elected on a promise not to run and broke that promise!" "He promised not to run but was lying all along!" "He's a puppet of Willie and Rose!" Lee does have a bit of a Spitzer/Mark Foley problem: you can get away with being a politician who is also liar and a creep, unless you base your political career on not being a lying creep. If you want to hate Ed Lee, have at it, but don't sully a perfectly good political brawl with irrelevant virtues like integrity and honesty.
Politicians can be corrupt creeps, or even moonlight as sexual predators for that matter, as long as they do their jobs and nobody finds a body. We're only indignant about the other guy. When people I detest get caught, I love it. The juicier the details, the more hypocritical, the better. Bathroom stall! Appalachian trail! Making your wife have sex in public at S&M clubs! Huzzah! San Francisco re-elected Gavin Newsom mayor by 72% after we knew about his affair with his best friend's wife because we liked what he stood for. I love Tom Ammiano for all he's done for his constituents and who he's inspired, so if he wanted to lie or cheat or steal a little bit, I would merely shrug.
I only care if Ed Lee is a fraudulent puppet because I dislike his policies. If he were my puppet, I would not care. Fortunately, I have an army of other carnies masquerading as politicians to choose from.
Nato Green is a San Francisco-based stand-up comedian who tours with Laughter Against the Machine, whose national tour wraps up in Oakland November 14 & 15, by which time we'll be on the 3rd round of ranked-choice voting tabulation and have nothing better to do.