Note to Bill O'Reilly:
Iowa is the new San Francisco.
I can barely write that sentence without my hands shaking at the thought of the city I grew up in losing its punch line status on right-leaning talk shows and slightly more sympathetic late night comedy hours.
But with an absentee mayor and a $438 million budget crisis threatening to turn us, according to the Christian Science Monitor, into stingy social conservatives, our paradigm-by-the-Bay of quaintly perspiring and proud progressivism is in imminent danger.
We shouldn't blame Iowa. That state somewhere there in the middle of flyover country has simply stepped up where we've stepped out. Just a few weeks ago Iowa's Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage, while our SF-based big legal kahuna is still diddling around on the issue. Brown University sociology professor, John Logan, even believes Iowa's first mover position on this could be the catalyst for a much broader national shift. "Iowa's status as a largely rural, Midwest state," the AP paraphrased Mr. Logan as saying, "could enforce the argument that gay marriage is no longer a fringe issue."
Wasn't SF supposed to be the pioneer on this, the flying wedge? And here Iowa goes quietly about its business making bigger actual waves on same sex marriage than a bellowing Gavin Newsom.
Then, today, Barack Obama, whose election so captivated and encouraged San Franciscans second to none, takes his rock star road trip not here but to a wind turbine plant in Newton, Iowa for Earth Day. Earth Day! Aren't WE the green ones? Not only did we almost elect a Green Party politician mayor, but the guy we did vote into office spends a hell of a lot of oxygen and photo op time talking up his own eco-credentials.
Mr. Newsom normally would have been tweeting Rahm Emanuel like a meth head trying to peddle SF's electric car or ocean power initiative as the President's landing strip instead of Iowa. But, according to a Chronicle story today, the mayor was apparently busy exchanging social networking messages with Ashton Kutcher instead. Besides, successful self-promotion doesn't always translate directly into successful promotion.
We only have ourselves to blame for this Iowa thing. Or someone nearby.
Maybe the frequent flier mayor has not been giving enough time to shoring up San Francisco's quirky but iconic reputation. On Tuesday he projectile vomited all over the digital networks the least surprising news of the year - that he was running for governor. Which means he'll be even less available for city business than he has been in the recent past, which wasn't all that much anyway.
He wasn't even in town to hang out with his longest living constituents the other morning at the 103rd anniversary of the great 1906 quake. I've been to a few of those in previous years and Mr. Newsom's presence and interaction with the dwindling group of spry survivors was one of the few genuinely charming moments that have come out of that teched-up, glamorous office.
In today's Chronicle, our frequent flier mayor had this to say about his run for governor:
"You won't even know some days that I wasn't in the city..."
That makes me feel so much better. Maybe when he gets to be governor, one city supervisor said, "he'll have our backs." Just not in the meantime.
But that's OK. San Francisco most likely still has more shrinks per capita than the state of Iowa and we'll just book extra sessions to deal with our separation anxiety -- separation from our mayor and our status.
Causes Phil Bronstein Supports
Good Ones; anything involving the possibility of redemption.