Earlier this month, San Franciscans walking down the stairs of their homes were surprised to stumble over The Ed Lee Story, a groveling campaign bio penned in the style of a Dick-and-Jane reader as produced by the Commissariat of Enlightenment.
So, in a word, that was odd. And now we've reached an even odder place with the distribution of The Real Ed Lee: The Untold, Untold Story by Sen. Leland Yee's campaign.
While Lee's obsequious bio portrayed him as an implacably honest leader of men, the Yee parody is every bit as mean-spirited as its inspiration was fawning.
Lee is painted as a man who rose to prominence by repeatedly enabling and greenlighting Willie Brown's corrupt machinations and has highlighted his brief tenure in Room 200 by enriching his friends and political supporters. His ideas are pilfered from others, and he and his supporters' grasp of ethical boundaries are tenuous. All of these charges have been leveled publicly and repeatedly -- hence the 107 endnotes at the conclusion of this read.
Now, all of those charges are laid out in one place. And, unlike The Ed Lee Story, which featured transcendentally bad writing in service of a patently ludicrous endeavor -- beatifying a bureaucrat -- The Real Ed Lee is written in an engagingly nasty manner.
It's hard to keep folks interested in the arcane matters of campaign finance law -- but it's easier when you have sentences like this: "Ed Lee's chief of staff Steve Kawa (formerly Gavin Newsom's chief of staff ... oh, and Wilie Brown's too) apparently went to the Ethics Commission's executive director, John St. Croix, with a big 'WTF.'"
The parody piece is also, mercifully, far shorter than the original, clocking in at 55 pages to The Ed Lee Story's 132. Brevity is the soul of wit, and this book will be far more effective at vilifying Lee than its puzzling inspiration has been at sanctifying him.
The big question, however, is will this literary harpoon do anything to stave off a Lee victory -- or is it, as The Real Ed Lee's anonymous author would put it, merely an "FU" in the campaign's dying days?
If you liken Ed Lee to the Moby Dick of the San Francisco mayoral race, Leland Yee (and his people) seem well equipped to play the role of Ahab. The captain wasn't able to kill the whale -- but he certainly did leave him with a defacing, painful, and annoying reminder of how he felt about him.