Moral Low Ground

US Government

‘Douche du Jour’: Newt Gingrich Blasts San Francisco as “Environment of Strange Fantasies and Strange Understandings of Reality”

San Francisco-bashing by conservatives is as predictable as the cool, damp fog that rolls in through the glorious Golden Gate on a summer’s morn. The phrase “San Francisco values” is red meat for the right, evoking imagery of drag queens flitting about on bedazzled floats, crusty pot-toking hippies and heaven forbid, peace, love and understanding. Republican attacks on our celebrated city are sure to elicit similarly visceral responses from reactionaries as calling it “Frisco” would from locals. Even Democrats aren’t immune– they wouldn’t dare even think about holding an election-year convention here out of utter dread of what the right would say. For being marked as a “San Francisco liberal” is, it seems, the kiss of death in American politics.

View from the author's 'hood. (Photo: Leonardo Stabile)

We’re used to it. And so it is that nary a pierced eyebrow was raised when GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich joined the long line of San Francisco-bashing Republicans with an attack on our “strange understandings of reality.”

To be fair, it was San Francisco’s Democratic congresswoman, Nancy Pelosi, who started it all by telling CNN’s John King that Gingrich, who is performing surprisingly well in the GOP race and– gasp– has a damn good shot at winning the nomination, that “he’s not going to be president of the United States.”

“Let me just say this,” the former House Speaker told King,  “that will never happen. He’s not going to be president of the United States. That’s not going to happen. Let me just make my prediction and stand by it. It isn’t going to happen.”

To which Newt angrily retorted:

“She lives in a San Francisco environment of strange fantasies and strange understandings of reality. I have no idea what’s in Nancy Pelosi’s head. If she knows something, spit it out. Tell us what it is. I have no idea what she’s talking about.”

Strange fantasies? That’s rich, coming from a man who has promised to establish the 51st state on the moon and who allegedly tried to pressure his wife into having an “open marriage.” But I will admit– you got us on this one, Newt. From the legendary Bay to Breakers foot race, now in its 101st year, in which runners clad in extravagant costumes (or absolutely nothing at all) “compete” amidst a bacchanalian frenzy of booze, bongs and boobs, to the wickedly debauched Folsom Street Fair, in which leather-clad studs openly engage in acts of public sex and the city government sponsors a cock ring tossing contest, to the incomparable Burning Man festival, a spectacle beyond description that draws half the city (okay, I’m exaggerating) out into the middle of the Nevada desert each year for a week of dusty bliss, if you’re a true San Franciscan, you pretty much need a wardrobe of costumes to get you through the myriad festivals, parties and other “strange fantasies” that make ours just about the awesomest city in the galaxy.

At Folsom Street Fair, boys will be boys… or girls… (Photo: Brett Wilkins)

As for our “strange understanding of reality,” well, Newt, let’s see… San Francisco values mean we’ve got the highest minimum wage (currently $10.24/hour) of any major city in America, universal health care, universal preschool and paid sick leave. We’re the greenest city in the nation. And probably the most tolerant too– unless you’re name is Newt. We don’t care where you come from (unless it’s Los Angeles), who you sleep with (even if you’re the mayor and you bang your best friend’s wife) or what color your skin is (unless it happens to be Dodger blue). There is no such thing as an “illegal” immigrant in our sanctuary city. There is also no such thing as a Walmart.

Of course, Newt and his ilk will probably point to all of the above and shout “see? I told you they’ve got a strange understanding of reality!”

Well, how’s this for a dose of reality… San Francisco is ranked as the nation’s smartest city. We’re also number one in household income.  The Bay Area is the world’s foremost engine of technological innovation. Our quality of life is superb; along with Honolulu, we’re the only U.S. city to crack the global top 30 in that category. Ours is the most beautiful city in America, hands-down. We’re the American city most foreigners want to see before they die, and the one Americans wax most poetic about. Our region produces some of the finest food and wine on the planet, not to mention some of the best– and legal– kind bud, too.

Ask anyone around here and they’ll tell you… San Francisco is, without a doubt, the greatest city in all the land, a little seven by seven mile slice of heaven on earth.

Oh, and we haven’t elected a Republican mayor since 1955… or so much as a Republican dog catcher since anyone can remember. We are, after all, the smartest city in America!

Kindly forgive my lack of humility. Has anyone seen the South Park episode “Smug Alert,” in which San Franciscans have their heads buried so far up their own asses that they’re  addicted to the smell of their own farts? Sure, we can be a bit smug, but can you blame us?

Of course, to most conservatives, we’ll always be a filthy Stalinist enclave populated by godless commies, ’60s hippie rejects, pallid tree-hugging vegans, flaming faggots, boisterous bull dykes, cracked-out street bums and lilly-livered liberals. And that’s fine by us. We neither seek nor want your approval. We’re perfectly content to live in our San Francisco environment of strange fantasies and strange understandings of reality. Those sure beat the hell out of the reality the Newt Gingriches of the world would curse us with.

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