Wednesday, November 08, 2006

san francisco values

monday NPR's "day to day" featured a segment on the latest republican talking point and attack line: "san francisco values." republican media strategist and UC berkeley political science professor dan schnur defines the terms as follows: this political climate it means a lot of things: any number of national security, economic cultural and social issues that spring out of San Francisco politcal dialogue are, for better or worse depending on your own perspective, markedly different from that in the rest of the country. If you're a Republican trying to warn voters against a Democratic vote... you can say "San Francisco values," you can mention Nancy Pelosi, and the point you can make in what is almost a verbal shorthand is that hey, look: these are tax-raising, terrorist-loving, same-sex-marriage supporting, ultra-liberal democrats who aren't like you and me.
i'm now in the midst of a correspondence with schnur in which i've pointed out, among other things, that lexis-nexis search results suggest that the phrase "san francisco values" first takes on its current pejorative sense in a very specific context -- not the sort of generalities and clichéd, hypenated stereotypes schnur conjures.

here is tatsha robertson in the boston globe, june 2003:
Gay rights advocates hailed the Supreme Court decision yesterday striking down a Texas sodomy ban as a major victory for their cause while conservative activists decried it as "the Roe v. Wade of the homosexual issue."

The ruling effectively invalidated sodomy laws in 13 states and for the first time offered a constitutional protection of gay and lesbian activity.


Conservatives said the decision will have far-reaching implications.

"Obviously this is like the Roe v. Wade of the homosexual issue," said Peter LaBarbera, senior policy analyst for the Culture and Family Institute, a conservative Christian group opposed to gay rights.

LaBarbera said some conservatives believe the ruling could provide a rationale for the government to sanction gay marriages, a criticism echoed in the Supreme Court yesterday by dissenting Justice Antonin Scalia. "The court is forcing San Francisco values on the whole country," LaBarbera said. ["Historic Ruling / US Reaction: Gays, Lesbians Praise Decision, Others Compare it to Roe V. Wade," The Boston Globe, June 27 2003, page A28]
i encourage readers to do a little researching into mr. labarbera in order to understand the full extent of his hypermoralising, fear-mongering, lurid, obsessive and pseudo-science-backed crusade against homosexuals. (for starters i recommend "The Holy War on Gays" by Robert Dreyfuss [from the march 18, 1999 rolling stone, reprinted here]; one can also search through sarah diamond's not by politics alone and didi herman's the antigay agenda online at google books or amazon.)

the same week as the supreme court ruling and labarbera's assessment of it, andrea stone wrote a usa today feature on nancy pelosi's job as house minority leader:
Republicans were thrilled after last fall's election to tighten their grip on the House of Representatives. Rapture, however, was to come a week later when devastated House Democrats picked a diminutive grandmother from Northern California to be their new leader.

To ecstatic Republicans, she was simply, and derisively, "San Francisco liberal Nancy Pelosi."

But six months after she was sworn in as the highest-ranking woman in congressional history, Pelosi (pronounced puh-LO-see) has surprised critics in both parties who had predicted this daughter of a Baltimore ward boss would lead Democrats over the ideological brink to political irrelevancy.

Instead, she has earned grudging respect. While she talks tough on tax cuts and prescription drugs, she has left harsh criticism of the administration's Iraq policy to others. It's a careful approach, observers say, more suited to leading a national party than to representing one of the country's most liberal congressional districts. It's also one that has given Republicans little new fodder for their fundraising appeals; they are forced to cite Pelosi's past statements before she became leader.


About a dozen Democrats who have received money from Pelosi's political action committee are being linked by Republicans to her "San Francisco values" on gun control, abortion and other hot-button issues. "Whose values does Dennis Moore represent: San Francisco or Kansas?" thundered a recent GOP press release.

Still, Pelosi hasn't evoked the visceral reactions among conservative Republicans that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton does. GOP pollster Frank Luntz expects candidates to stay clear of her in campaign speeches, saying, "It's always dangerous to attack a woman." ["Pelosi surprises critics, gives GOP little ammo," USA Today, July 3, 2003, page 13A]
how thoughtful of luntz, the man who has coined many of the right's most popular framing devices (such as rechristening estate taxes as "the death tax") -- unfortunately, how quickly such warnings go by the wayside. fortunately pelosi has the last laugh!

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