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A spot-on blog post by gay rights advocate and former U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal (NC).  

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom was thrown under the bus by the Democratic Party, and it's a shame.  Men with intelligence and a backbone like his deserve to lead.

The original posting by Jim may be found at:

"Gavin Newsom: A Civil Rights Icon Falls into Oblivion"
By Jim Neal

Maureen Dowd's piece in the NY Times today is a must-read. A righteous guy defies party politics and does the right thing. Subsequently he's  thrown under the bus for being too controversial. Frankly, Gavin's too smart, too principled to be treated in that fashion.

Notwithstanding his good looks and metrosexual charm and bon vivant flaire, he wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Newsom's father was a political operator in San Francisco and his aunt was married to a relative of Nancy Pelosi. What few know is that his mom worked several jobs to support Gavin and his sister- all while opening their home to foster children which heavily-influenced Gavin's passion for public service. When his dad's finances ebbed Gavin took on jobs in high school to help support his family. He's dyslexic so it wasn't easy for him as a kid.

He's earned every nickle he has and and was a millionaire at a very early age. Those of you in SFO have likely eaten at the PlumpJack Cafe which gave rise to a host of other succesful business ventures.

I lived in SFO during the late 1990s and met Gavin rhrough a mutual friend. He was anything but prententious. When I returned to SFO a few years ago and grabbed a burger at PlumpJack, Mayor Newson was at the bar talking to  whomever was seated around him. I grabbed him to come over to our table and meet my partner Ben and some friends. He sat down and bandied about-- and like the good mench he is bought me and my buddies a beer.

When he decided to run for governor of California I was absolutely shocked to when my liberal friends-- people who talked a big game about marriage equality-- lined up like sheep and threw dollars and fundraisers in support of Democratic Party establishment candidate Jerry Brown. Many, many of those supporters and big donors were from the LGBT community. I was and continue to be dumbfounded. Take 2 and watch this YouTube segment of an interview of Gavin during the campaign. Now ask yourself- did he nail it or not?

While America is pointing fingers and engaging in flame-throwing about Scott Brown and the evil Republicans and lining up behind the next wave of Democratic politicians who will tell you what you want to hear but waffle when elected-- just stop for one damned minute. Ask yourself why and how did so many turn on this guy. Who the hell do you think was responsible for the Prop 8 tweets being streamed? Who inspired brillaint attorneys David Boies and Ted Olson to take up the mantle of marriage equality? Who lit the match that started the wildfire across America?

Folks we lost a huge ally in Gavin Newsom. He's one of the rare politicians who not only talked the talk but walked the walk. Aside from ordering that civil marriages be performed in SFO, he introduced universal healthcare to the city and signed the city on as a supporter of the Kyoto Protocol. Accomplishments that no elected official in America can boast. Here's a guy who has dropped off the map because he couldn't raise the damned  money from either the power elite or the same sort of netroots sources which fueled the campaigns of Obama nationally and Scott Brown locally. He's feeling low and downtrodden and sad for himself and by God that is perfectly understandable.

America wake up! Get out and vote for nothing less than what you want, and not what you think you can get, in 2010.

You know, we deserve what we get. It's hardly enough to complacently rant online, join the chorus of meaningless partisan squabbling and wallow in the nightly partisan newstainment bacchanalia. It takes guts, sweat and tears, a commitment of time, passion and a reality check to drive change. For it's the very Democrats we elected who enjoy an enormous majority in Congress that have wasted the trove of political capital they enjoyed one year ago.

An incredible friend of civil equality has been marginalized, ignored and to a large extent betrayed. It's no small wonder that so many bright, commited and principed candidates have grown cynical about politics. The Party elite rolls out a constant parade of cookie-cutter, smooth-talking opportunists of- the-moment who are adored while running based upon what they say, only to be pillored once elected by what they do not do. Our President is the most obvious case-in-point.

I hope Gavin heals- and finds a place outside politics to continue the doing the good thing for the right reason.

Originally posted to NCSUDem on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 11:05 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Not really a diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's really not a lot of work to make a diary.  Especially today, when Dems as a party have a well-earned reputation as loafers, you might consider making an effort.

    Enrich your life with adverbs!

    by Rich in PA on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 11:08:19 AM PST

  •  Newsom's problems do not stem from (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    vlajos, DaleA

    his lack of fundraising, but from the skeletons in his closet.  He is a great man, but his affair with a staffer's wife crushed his chance to Governor of California.

    "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

    by Mas Gaviota on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 11:23:07 AM PST

  •  more to the point ... (0+ / 0-)

    who in their right mind WANTS to be Governor of Gullyvornya at this point in history?  It's the end of a career, not a good place for someone like Newsom.

    I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper. - President Barack Obama

    by ThirstyGator on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 11:38:08 AM PST

    •  Jerry Brown n/t (0+ / 0-)

      "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

      by Mas Gaviota on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 11:46:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  "in their right mind" nt (0+ / 0-)

        I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper. - President Barack Obama

        by ThirstyGator on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 11:47:07 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Cheap shot (0+ / 0-)

          Jerry Brown is the most sucessful politician in California history, but keep up that bullshit "Moonbeam" meme it so so fucking fresh.

          "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

          by Mas Gaviota on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 12:04:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Jerry Brown ... (0+ / 0-)

            Is, in many cases, a strong, principled progressive voice.  He is also, in many ways, deeply odd.  That's not bullshit, it's reality.

            I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper. - President Barack Obama

            by ThirstyGator on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 12:11:05 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Odd? (0+ / 0-)

              Tell Me what is odd about this C.V.

              Following law school, Brown worked as a law clerk to California Supreme Court Justice Mathew Tobriner, traveled and studied in Mexico and Latin America and then took up residence in Los Angeles, working for the prestigious law firm, Tuttle & Taylor. In 1968, he helped qualify a slate of presidential delegates to oppose the re-nomination of President Lyndon Johnson. The following year, Brown was elected to the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees, placing first in a field of 124. In 1970, he was elected California Secretary of State. During his term, he forced legislators to comply with campaign disclosure laws, exposed President Nixon’s use of falsely notarized documents to improperly earn a large tax deduction and drafted and helped pass the California Fair Political Practices Act. Brown personally argued before the state Supreme Court and won against Gulf, Mobile and Standard Oil for election law violations (Brown vs. Superior Court).

              Brown was elected Governor in 1974 and reelected in 1978, by over one million votes.

              During Governor Brown’s tenure, California produced 25% of the nation's new jobs. His eight years in office are generally considered among the most innovative in American history. He established the first agricultural labor relations law in the country, enacted collective bargaining for teachers and other public employees, started the California Conservation Corp (CCC), signed into permanent law the California Coastal Protection Act, earned federal protection of Northern California wild and scenic rivers, brought about the country's first building and appliance energy efficiency standards and made California the leader in solar and alternative energy.

              Brown appointed more women, Asians, Latinos and African-Americans to high government positions than any other chief executive. He also created the nation’s first Wellness Commission, the Office of Appropriate Technology, the Native American Heritage Preservation Commission and the California Commission on Industrial Innovation. As president of the University of California Regents, Brown successfully sponsored the establishment of the prestigious Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation. Brown legalized the practice of Acupuncture and strongly supported the rights of chiropractors, osteopaths and lay midwives. He also significantly expanded apprenticeship programs and created the California Worksite Education and Training Act (CWETA). He mandated every high school district to establish clear graduation standards and successfully fought for increased math and science requirements for both the California State University and University of California systems. Finally, Brown restructured the California Arts Commission so that it was composed of practicing artists and increased funding by 1300%.

              In the field of crime fighting, Brown enacted hundreds of tough anti-crime measures, including the "Use A Gun Go To Prison" Law and mandatory sentences for rape, sale of heroin, violent crimes against the elderly, child molestation and selling PCP. He established and funded the Career Criminal Prosecution Program, the Career Criminal Apprehension Program and the Crime Resistance Task Force.

              After his defeat by Pete Wilson in the 1982 U.S. Senate race, Brown lectured widely, led delegations to China and the Soviet Union, studied Spanish in Mexico, spent six months in Japan studying Japanese culture and Buddhist practice, worked with Mother Teresa in India at the Home for the Dying and traveled to Bangladesh as a CARE ambassador of good will during the devastating floods of 1988.

              Brown again practiced law in Los Angeles and in 1989 became chairman of the state Democratic Party. He resigned that position in 1991, expressing his disgust with the growing influence of money in politics, and sought the 1992 Democratic Presidential nomination. During that campaign he refused to take contributions larger than $100 and used an "800" number to raise funds.

              Despite limited financial resources, Brown defeated Bill Clinton in Maine, Colorado, Vermont, Connecticut, Utah and Nevada during the 1992 Presidential primaries and was the only candidate other than Clinton to receive enough voter support to continue until the Democratic National Convention.

              In 1998, Brown ran for mayor of Oakland against 11 other candidates and won in the primary with 59% of the vote. Before taking office, he successfully passed a voter initiative, changing the ceremonial office of mayor to that of a "Strong Mayor" form of city government. Brown was re-elected in 2002 with 64% of the vote.

              Upon taking office, Brown emphasized three goals: reducing crime, revitalizing the downtown and encouraging charter schools. All 3 have been accomplished: Going into his eighth year, crime is down over 30 percent, new housing units for more than 10,000 people have been approved and are either built or under construction, and several excellent charter schools have been established. Brown has fought for tougher laws to keep criminals off the streets by imposing a strict curfew for those who have committed serious crimes at night and was a leader in the campaign to defeat Proposition 66 - an attempt to dismantle California's three strikes law.

              Brown personally founded the Oakland School for the Arts and the Oakland Military Institute. Both schools serve students from the 6th grade through the 12th and are among the best performing schools in Oakland.

              Oh, and that does include his current position as California Attorney General.  Name ONE person in California that has acheived so much for the state.  Crazy? NO  But I guess that he is odd, as in outside of the norm,  in that he actually get things done.  
              PS: We would be much better off as a nation and a party if he had bested Bubba DLC in the 1992 primary

              "Es mejor morir de pie que vivir de rodilla." E. Zapata

              by Mas Gaviota on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 12:28:49 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I agree w/Mas Gaviota (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mas Gaviota

    I have several mutual acquaintances with Newsom.  As they tell it, the primary issue is that he has a serious alcohol problem and this affects his judgment.  That includes not only the affair, but also his decision to jump out on the gay marriage issue at about the worst possible time to do so from the standpoint of national politics. He did it to gain national attention, but more importantly to neutralize the only major voting bloc in SF which had opposed him:  the gay community, which had voted solidly for his mayoral opponent, Matt Gonzales.  

    I'm not saying that what he did wasn't on the side of the angels in theory.  But in practice, it was disastrous, and handed the national Republican party the club they needed for big wins that year.  It was not only too soon to push that issue in the context of what was going to fly politically--forcing a timetable of national debate on the issue which I believe to this day is going to end up DELAYING marriage equality, rather than speeding its arrival--but his conduct in speaking about it publicly was used repeatedly by advocates of Prop. 8 to swing voters to their side.

    As I read it--and I grant, I don't know the man myself--Newsom is primarily an opportunist.  I think he has settled on progressive policy positions because they firm up his ability to hold his position in San Francisco.  If he were somewhere else, his positions would be quite different.

  •  He's pretty much an empty suit. (0+ / 0-)

    That may be his real problem.

  •  Gavin Newsom (0+ / 0-)

    Did what he did not out of any sense of rightness, but because he knew it would benefit Gavin Newsom.

    That "brave stand" he was credited with? Purest cynicism, IMHO. He had to know that he lacked the legal authority to grant legally binding marriage licenses to smae-gendered couples... State law pre-empts the power of a Mayor.

    So he had to have known that it wouldn't actually work... and that thousands of his constituents would have their hopes and dreams smashed when the State did what everyone knew they were going to do, and invalidated all those marriages.

    He had to have known all of that... but he did it anyway.

    The reaction from the larger Left was the only thing he could have been hoping to gain from it. And too many of us jumped on board, crediting him for "courage" instead of damning him for cruelly calculated ambition.

    He did not help gay people... he used them. Deliberately sacrificed their happiness to further his quest for power and position.

    It's far from admirable. In fact, it's one of the more despicable things I've seen a politician do in years.

    Those of us who actually care about the rights and happiness of gay people should be happy that it blew up in his face... although actually not doing it would have hurt far fewer people.

    Gavin Newsom is a self-serving, ambitious douchebag. I'm beyond glad that we'll likely never hear his name again.


    "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees." -- Emiliano Zapata Salazar
    "Dissent is patriotic. Blind obedience is treason." --me

    by Leftie Gunner on Wed Jan 20, 2010 at 12:03:17 PM PST

    •  Well, I wouldn't have said it this way... (0+ / 0-)

      ...but I pretty much agree.

      The fact that Maureen Dowd, whose political analysis is reliably tin-eared, has decided that of all the supposed progressives she is going to lament, Newsom deserves the pat on the back, pretty much seals it.

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