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Gomorrah by the Bay 

The GOP's last-ditch message to voters before the midterm elections was a tirade against our fair city. How do you feel about San Francisco values in the political spotlight?

Wednesday, Nov 8 2006
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In the run-up to yesterday's midterm elections, Republicans nationwide found themselves with a common last-second rallying cry. It started with Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly, who inveighed against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her "San Francisco values" on his television show, The O'Reilly Factor. Newt Gingrich quickly picked up the baton, followed by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who asked in the National Review: "Do we really want Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco values leading the culture war?" As voters shuffled toward the ballot boxes, the phrase had become a de facto mantra for the GOP; and while the phrase was loosely defined in the national press, the City by the Bay once again found itself in the eye of the electoral storm. Are you an apologist for San Francisco values? Take our quiz and find out!

1) In his tirade against Pelosi, O'Reilly defined San Francisco values as "a massive federal government that dispenses entitlements paid for primarily by affluent Americans. That is called income redistribution, or the shorthand: 'tax the rich.' San Francisco values also seek to exclude spirituality from the public square but embrace displays like the Bay City's gay pride parade, where Christianity is often mocked and demeaned." Do you think those values are indeed in line with San Francisco?

A) Well, Christianity is definitely mocked and demeaned around here. But mostly by priests.

B) We exclude spirituality from the public square? Apparently, Mr. O'Reilly needs to spend more time doing yoga in Mill Valley.

C) Those ideals are only part of what makes San Francisco so great. We also have an annual naked footrace.

2) O'Reilly concluded his diatribe by asserting that "San Francisco is now perhaps the most far-left city the United States has ever seen." Do you agree?

A) Not while Honolulu's around.

B) Tell that to all the red-state yahoos who visit Fisherman's Wharf and gawk at the trannies. I guess they wait until they get home to be outraged.

C) Hmm ... well, I guess all those Wisconsin militias don't technically have "cities" — until, you know, they go too far and all.

3) Pelosi spent the final weekend before the campaign in the Northeast, stumping for Democrats in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, where Republicans predictably accused her of being "out of step" with local residents' values. Do you think San Francisco's viewpoint is at odds with voters on the East Coast?

A) No way. And that's bad news for the nation's irradiated meat supply.

B) That depends ... does Philadelphia enjoy a nice mojito?

C) I think this country's founding fathers would be proud to see a modern city like San Francisco ... until they got a whiff of the sewers.

4) Democrats have responded to Republicans' charge of lax moral values by countering with recent examples of right-wing figures who have been snared in embarrassing scandals. These include Florida GOP Rep. Mark Foley, accused of prowling for underage Washington pages on the Internet, and Ted Haggard, a frequent White House adviser and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who resigned amid accusations of an affair with a male prostitute. In light of these incidents, do you see any irony in Republicans chastising their opponents for moral impropriety?

A) Hmm ... sounds like "irony" is just a fancy word for "San Francisco values."

B) No irony, no. Just desperation.

C) Please. It sounds like "Washington Republican values" are the real danger to our nation's developing minds. (Bonus point for adding: "And the films of Sofia Coppola.")

5) The San Francisco Chronicle devoted quite a few pre-election stories to the issue, blaring a front-page article on "San Francisco values" that quoted experts on the topic; asking locals for their opinion in the "Two Cents" feature; and concluding in an editorial, "it does seem that San Francisco values are a threat to the ways of Washington." Do you think the newspaper's extensive coverage of the political name-calling was at all defensive?

A) What else are they going to write about? Murders?

B) Look, the story passed the Chronicle litmus test: A lot of middle-aged people seemed to be talking about it at brunch.

C) A little bit, yes. It's just playing right into the Republicans' hands, like a willing page.

6) If Republicans seek to identify San Francisco values with the Democratic party, which American city's values would you most closely link with the GOP?

A) Colma.

B) Is Tulsa still a city? Or has it closed?

C) Wait ... does Baghdad count as an American city yet?

7) And finally, what, to you, are quintessentially San Francisco values?

A) Terrifically overpriced Italian food.

B) An uneasy, guilt-filled relationship with the homeless.

C) The same qualities that made Danny Glover a star.


How to score:

Score zero points for every "A" answer, one point for every "B," and two points for every "C."

0-6 points: A closet Republican in San Francisco? Gee, you're gay, too? You know, that's getting less and less cool.

7-10 points: Feeling a tad uneasy at seeing San Francisco dragged into the national political spotlight? But it's always worked out so well for Democrats in the past ...

11-14 points: Congratulations! You're a true apologist for San Francisco values. Unfortunately, we have to inform you that your rent's going up again and the neighbors have complained about the rock 'n' roll music.

About The Author

Matt Palmquist

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