Drive-by Reporting

A primer for out-of-town journalists flocking to the Pelosi power story

Won't that be nice — stabbed Dutch journalists filing war dispatches from San Francisco.


Oh, wait, don't tell me. San Francisco. Leftist idealism. Right?

To their credit, many voices in the national media have disabused Americans of the notion that Nancy Pelosi is a left-wing San Francisco values-toting firebrand. She's merely a millionaire swell who happens to be good at asking members of her social class for campaign donations, recent radio, television, and newspaper accounts have pointed out.

But while these stories inform, they also deceive. In order to make the point that Pelosi's to the political right of her hometown, they perpetuate the myth that San Francisco is the base of operations for some sort of firebrand left-wing political ideology.

It's not. The left's just an opposition faction here, with the mayor, Pelosi, and the rest of the city's ruling "moderates" as their enemies. As such, they spend much of their time seeking to embarrass their rival faction.

During the past month or so the city's left faction has strived to oust the city's chief disaster-relief official, who'd been installed in 2004 as part of a political shuffle the mayor had hoped would enhance his power. The mayor's power-seeking shuffle didn't have its intended effect. As a result, the left's effort to humiliate and force out the disaster-relief official succeeded.

Next up: Ed Lee, who had been reappointed to the post of city administrator, and previously installed on the Planning Commision by Willie Brown. Mayor Newsom moved Lee out of the administrator post last year and created a job for him at the S.F. airport called Director of International Economic and Tourism Development, which, as with so many patronage slots, is a $186,000 title involving little apparent work.

Expect embarrassing hearings on this next year.

But your leftists do doleftist things, too, like fight for the environment. Right?

Hardly. The most reviled people in the city are smart-growth advocates, who seek to slow nature-killing California sprawl by promoting urban density here. The second most reviled are natural-areas preservationists, who seek to preserve the last bits of nature remaining in the city by limiting how those areas can be used.

Solving poverty?

Did you notice the homeless and drug addicts filling our city's doorways, bridge-tunnels, and parks?

Promoting justice?

Not at all: Thanks to a dysfunctional justice system, you're more likely to get away with killing someone in San Francisco than most places in the First World. Please don't get any ideas, foreign journalist adrenaline junkies.

Artsy?

Nah, the good galleries long ago decamped for Los Angeles. The musicians, for cheap-rent Modesto.

Um, peace and love?

Look elsewhere. This is a fighter's town. People move here, meet a group of fighting-mad friends, then join one of the city's myriad wars: dog-owners vs. parents, renters vs. owners, bus-riders vs. drivers, bohemians vs. geeks, everybody against newcomers.

A few years ago, I denounced the city as a petty battle zone.

Krissy Keefer, Nancy Pelosi's left-wing opponent in last year's race to represent San Francisco in Congress, wrote a letter in response: "I am really smart and [Matt] is dumber than dog shit."

Whether or not she's right, the new status of our favorite daughter Nancy Pelosi threatens to expose San Franciscans' deficiencies to the world of foreign correspondents. We can only hope they get stuck in traffic at Fisherman's Wharf.

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