Born in New York City, I grew up with this Woody Allen lament, uttered at the beginning of Annie Hall:
Don't you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we're left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes, and I live here.
Substitute "Wiccan" for "Jewish," maybe add a pinch of "vegetarian," and you've got a reasonably accurate depiction of San Francisco and its environs, as viewed through the lens of many on the outside gaping in. These are folks who consider Nancy Pelosi to be just to the left of Karl Marx, as opposed to the pragmatic, centrist sell-out that some of the basier of the Bay Area base think of her as.
I knew it was only a matter of time before political expediency turned the satirical ribbing of an SNL skit skewering Pelosi and San Francisco into the vicious attack ads seen in this mid-term political cycle.
From a recent article in the Bay Citizen titled Campaigns Seek to Portray Liberal Demon by the Bay.
In the waning days of a highly charged election season, Republicans near and far are united against a common opponent: San Francisco. In ads and stump speeches, the city is repeatedly flogged as a symbol of the kind of out-of-step liberalism that Republicans vow to banish if they wrest control of Congress from Ms. Pelosi and the Democrats.
Nationally, the Republican National Committee has begun a “Fire Pelosi 2010 Bus Tour,” and ads tying Democrats to San Francisco have proliferated. In Georgia, a conservative Democrat seeking to distance himself from Pelosi is running a commercial featuring gyrating hippies and warning: “Georgia is a long way from San Francisco.”
Now, as conventional wisdom and a slew of polls have Pelosi, the first woman Speaker of the House, poised to lose that historic position tomorrow, San Franciscans are rallying around her. Even the Bay Guardian, never a fan, endorsed her re-election, even as it wondered at her status as a liberal bete-noire:
It's odd that Pelosi's become such a symbol of liberal Democrats and fodder for the right-wing attack machine. When you look at her record, she's hardly a San Francisco liberal and certainly no progressive. She's not even a strong supporter of same-sex marriage. She was bad on the war for too long and seems far more interested in raising money than representing her constituents. But she did salvage the health care bill, and she's held up as Obama's chief Capitol Hill ally under enormous pressure, and if the Democrats survive with control of the House, she'll stay speaker. If not, she should think about retiring.
And of course, it's not just Pelosi who is on the chopping block tomorrow. If Democrats lose the House, the entire party agenda, which many in the overwhelmingly Democratic Bay Area support, will most certainly be stalled if not ended.So is it any wonder that as the "hope and change" that so many in the Bay Area invested in two years ago is on the brink of sputtering out, residents here have retreated into the world of sports? And it doesn't take a local with the metaphorical chops of Herman Melville to look at the San Francisco-Texas World Series matchup as a happy proxy for the cultural/political war occurring in the real world. Last night a casual fan told me she "really wanted the Giants to win," because she wanted so badly to beat Texas. Not the Rangers, but the state. The parading of the two Bushes to wild applause before Sunday's game probably didn't help. But even before W, who once co-owned the Rangers prior to driving liberals crazy as president, appeared on the field, the culture of the Texas team was bound to rankle some in the Bay Area. From The American Spectator:
...when Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton accepted the American League Championship Series MVP the first thing he did was to praise God and Jesus Christ. Hamilton was loudly applauded by the sold out crowd at Rangers Ballpark for this acknowledgment. Could you imagine the flak Hamilton would have caught had he uttered such praise in San Francisco? Half the crowd would have been on the phone with the ACLU.
But if Bay Area denizens are dissing Texas among themselves, the potshots that Texans are taking, like those from the rest of the country, are public. The Examiner Monday quotes from a nasty column by Dallas Morning News sportswriter Steve Blow:
Frankly, I'm surprised they still play baseball in San Francisco.
I figured that by now someone here would have decided that baseball chalk isn't Earth-kind or that the game is overtly sexist or gender-role confining or some such claptrap.
San Francisco doesn't deserve to win the World Series . Maybe every resident deserves a Nobel Prize for being so dang enlightened. But, please, save baseball's highest achievement for a bunch of Regular Joes who earned it.
Blow goes on...
Do I have to tell you who represents San Francisco? Yep, Madame Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
That ought to get Texas Ranger fans of the Tea Party variety stirred up right there.
I'm sorry. I don't mean to inject politics into baseball. But it's hard to imagine two places more different facing each other in the World Series – one right, one left.
Some would say one right, one wrong.
So it's open season on Nancy Pelosi, San Francisco liberals,and even Giants' fans, who a couple of weeks ago committed the unforgivable sin of pubically welcoming the Demon Barry Bonds back into their fold, to the scorn of this Philadelphia columnist.
So as those wild and wacky independent voters who sent the Republicans packing just two years ago now appear set to tip the fulcrum of America's body politic back to the right, the Bay Area faithful--both the Democratic and Giants kind--look to the team for a last snatch of glory. And if the Giants win it all tonight, or in the next few days, there is going to be a joyous and (pen)insular celebration here in this lonely part of the American cultural landscape, just before the rest of the country moves on to whatever it's going to do despite what we may think. And where we still love our baseball...