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Matt Gonzalez, who came within inches of the SF Mayor’s office back in 2002 (and to whom I sent money) will be running for Vice President. Well, as much as I want the Democrats to retake the White House this year, I find it exciting that Gonzalez is back in politics. He had been on the Board in SF representing the Haight-Ashbury District and decided to go back into private practice not long after losing the Mayoral race to Gavin Newsom.
It should freshen up Ralph Nader’s run as he couldn’t choose a more dynamic running mate in someone who came very close to making the Green Party a player in California politics. Demographically and culturally speaking – he’s me – sort of in between baby-boom and gen x, post-hippie, non-punk, yuppie-but-not-yuppie, lost generation who remembers his first Clash album while enduring Billy Don’t be a Hero on all the airwaves. It’s likely he and I attended some of the same parties in SF (the ones with dim blue and red lightbulbs all over the house, usually in a rustic Victorian in the Mission District filled with grad student and art grant recipient tenants – with plenty medium priced booze served in plastic glasses and the background aroma of you-know-what from this county) in the early 90s and we probably have many of the same books on our shelves and much of the same music in our CD collections.
I still think it’s a pointless run, and instead of going for the Hail Mary every time the Greens ought to work on getting local candidates elected so they can work up a leadership base and infrastructure to run for higher offices. But they don’t listen to me, so what can you do?
The photo comes from the SF Chronicle article linked above.
Addendum: Yes, this is a weird week for me, praising campaigns I don’t support.
Second addendum: Hmmm. I wondered what had become of James Hammer. Hammer, now one of Gonzalez’ law partners, was an SF prosecutor famous for obtaining the conviction of dog owners who’s pets had killed a lesbian woman in an apartment building. Some may remember that the dogs were raised in Hayfork, bringing a local element into the story. Anyway, James Hammer is now openly gay. He wasn’t (open) when I knew him briefly while we both attended Half Moon Bay High School. In fact, I remember a religious argument which left me with the distinct impression he was very conservative. I think he probably liked Billy Don’t be a Hero. Anyway, he’s in private practice with Gonzalez after a brief stint as legal talking head for one of the networks.
Third addendum: Whew! Mayor Gavin Newsom on Gonzalez. I have to say, that the debate between them which I heard on the radio was the most high level intelligent debate I’ve heard between political candidates, and I mean the most. That includes races for president, senate, etc. Both were extremely knowledgeable, passionate, articulate, and most importantly candid with policy and philosophical details. About the only silly line in the whole campaign was Newsom saying he was for ideas and not ideology, which Gonzalez played around with in a way that you could only get away with erudite electorate of San Francisco.
Simply put, for the sake of America’s future, the Nader-Gonzalez ticket must be considered and challenged as the very real threat it is.
If had to make an educated guess, I would bet that Matt Gonzalez’s name ID outside of San Francisco is somewhere south of zero. But the fact is, Matt Gonzalez is a dynamic and accomplished politician who will bring both a charming charisma and a steely discipline to the Nader effort.
When Matt ran for Mayor, he was able to attract both the enthusiasm of young voters and the money of many developers who didn’t like my stands on their projects. He jumped into the race late, even though both a strong gay candidate and a progressive woman were already running credible campaigns – and he beat them.
Matt is a smart, tough and ruthless campaigner who will help make the Nader ticket just effective enough to be dangerous. I respect my fellow San Franciscan as an opponent. I respect him as a thinker. And I like and respect him as a person.
But what Matt Gonzalez and Ralph Nader are doing to our nation is beyond divisive – it is dangerous. Every progressive and Democrat needs to recognize that in the Nader-Gonzalez candidacy, we gain nothing but have everything to lose.
Read the whole thing. One more thing, Gonzalez would never bop his friend’s wife. Newsom ought to reflect on that.
Fourth addendum: According to the NY Times, they will not be seeking the Green Party nomination, but will instead run as independents.
Fifth addendum: A hilarious video of “anonymous” advice for Nader.
Wasn’t there a Gospel quote about Jesus being popular everywhere except for his home town? Well, Dennis Kucinich isn’t Jesus, but apparently some of his constituents are feeling neglected.
The Cleveland Scene, an alternative newspaper, has an article up about his opponent, a former Kucinich groupie named Joe Cimperman who wanted to commission a portrait of the congressman, but got burned and then got pissed.
The new Kucinich, he argues, is rarely involved in matters at home anymore. He’s twice run for president, but barely registered in the national consciousness. Meanwhile, while the congressman was “spending all his time in Hawaii and Syria,” Cleveland was being rushed to an economic emergency ward.
So Cimperman decided to take Kucinich’s job — the 10th Congressional District seat, representing an area that stretches from Cleveland to North Olmsted. It’s not like he’s betraying his mentor, says Cimperman. “I didn’t leave Dennis. Dennis left me.”
A few weeks later, Cimperman delivered a gift basket — stuffed with sausages and a map of Cuyahoga County — to Kucinich’s house. The message: In case you forgot about Cleveland . . .
The next week, a staffer filmed him as he went to Kucinich’s office to drop off a “missing” flier featuring the congressman’s face.
He immediately launched TV ads attacking Kucinich’s most vulnerable flanks, accusing him of ignoring his job and failing to deliver anything meaningful to the district.
Kucinich was forced to cut short his presidential bid and scurry back to Cleveland. He seemed to understand that he faced a legitimate threat, an opponent regarded as such a tireless campaigner and aggressive self-promoter that he’s often accused of grandstanding.
In other words, Kucinich had come home to battle a younger version of himself.
Yet outside the unswayable core, Kucinich has done his best to alienate lay Democrats. His two presidential bids seemed like the antics of a kid brother who’s constantly trying to play with the older boys. Despite three years of nonstop campaigning, he rarely scored more than 1 percent in the primaries.
At home he (Kucinich) was anti-abortion, anti-gay-marriage, praising the merits of bowling and sausage. In California he was a vegan liberal. At home he refused to debate his opponents; in New Hampshire and Nevada he sued to be included.
Unfortunately, Scene couldn’t get Kucinich on the phone either. His cell phone picks up after one ring. This is Dennis. Thanks for calling. I’m looking forward to speaking with you . . .
But he never calls back.
And lest you think this is a flank attack by conservatives and/or Democratic Party insiders, Cimperman has mostly championed progressive causes including a failed attempt to keep WalMart out of Cleveland. He has compromised on other issues according to the article, but he does not appear to be hitting Kucinich from the right. On the other hand, note the first comment to the article which claims that Kucinich has an excellent attendance record in Congress despite his campaigns – and isn’t that really the job of a congressional representative? The portrait incident may actually weigh against Cimperman’s central theme.
Still, Kucinich’s sudden departure from the presidential race would indicate that he’s well aware of his vulnerabilities.
Disclosure: I voted for Kucinich in the 2004 primary.
The man who introduced intellectualism to conservative politics died today. The magazine he founded, National Review, has a symposium and a slide show. I’ll gather up some thoughts and type them out a little later on, but I miss his style of conservatism in the age of Limbaugh and Coulter.
Buckley’s career took off in the 1950s with the book “Up From Liberalism,” wherein on the very first page he warned of the danger that “comes when a distrust of doctrinaire social systems eases over into a dissolute disregard for principle.” It was perhaps an early plea for what would decades later be referred to as “compassionate conservatism. He also differed from his fellow conservatives from a libertarian perspective on the drug war. In fact, he would take his sailboat out of American legal jurisdiction waters and smoked marijuana (apparently not concerned about the possession issues up to that point) and was quite open about it. And more recently, he broke with his fellow NRO team to oppose the Iraq war.
And while other conservatives felt betrayed by Buckley’s protege Michael Lind when the latter made the journey to the liberal dark side in the mid 1990s, Buckley maintained the utmost respect for Lind and continued to publish him. This even after Lind wrote a book and named it in parody “Up from Conservatism.”
This isn’t the most flattering remembrance of him, but it’s a famous clip from a debate between Buckley and Gore Vidal during the 1868 Democratic Party convention. During the exchange Vidal calls Buckley a “crypto-nazi” and Buckley threatened to punch Vidal in the nose. Vidal later apologized saying he’d meant to say “crypto-fascist” rather than “crypto-nazi.”
Here’s an old debate with Noam Chomsky.
The photo comes from Britannica.
Matthew Owen, who invited me to speak at the Rotary Club in Eureka on Monday (where I was clearly out of my element), reports to me that an elderly gentleman told him that he didn’t think he was going to like my talk. First off, he didn’t know what a “blog” is. Secondly, I was from Sohum, a liberal, and an attorney – three strikes against me.
But he told Matthew that he thought my talk turned out to be “very interesting.”
Hey, they laughed at my jokes! I can’t ask for more.