I was on KPBS's These Days yesterday morn (good to see Tom Fudge back in the saddle). Topic: the political storm following Jerry Sanders flip flop on gay marriage. My basic take: the most principled stance Sanders has taken while in office and the most politically damaging, at least when it comes to next June's primary race.
At one point a caller disagreed that gay marriage would be a significant issue next year: pension funds, water and the brass tacks of day to day government would be the main focus. Then caller Andrea from Sorrento Valley took me to task for doing more to whip up GLTG issues as a wedge issue than either party has. If it weren't for we pundits, in other words, making hay out of chaff, gay marriage would be a non-issue.
I had to respectfully disagree with both callers. Twere that it were that voters always put real issues ahead of emotional and irrational ones. If that was the case Karl Rove would have been out of work years ago.
I pointed out that, for better or ill (more "ill") Sander's decision had made national headlines when little else he has done has: we were just discussing what was - not necessarily what should be. I further pointed out that, if you don't think the GOP and conservative Republicans consider this a significant issue--wedge or otherwise--you're just not paying attention.
After the show I get into my car, turn on the radio and channel surf on the ride home. When I drive I'm constantly fiddling between NPR and AM squawk, from Rush on KOGO 600 on the conservative left of the San Diego dial to Air America KLSD 1360, for however long that lasts, on the progressive right of the dial. I like to get an idea what the blowhards of the radio blogosphere are pontificating about on both sides of the aisle. That and I can't stand to listen to any of them for more than a few minutes at a stretch.
So, anyway, I'm driving and listening and the very first thing I here is conservative Dennis Praeger on ultra-conservative KCBQ 1170. The topic de jour: Jerry Sanders, his abysmal flip flop on gay marriage and how important an issue it is to conservatives. Praeger said he thought gay marriage was THE issue of our times, far more important than things like for instance, gun control.
(Which made me wonder just what Praeger, a commentator whose whole schtick is about how his views are based on unshakeable moral principles as opposed to mere politics, bases his claim to the moral high ground on? I mean, just how many people have been killed in unlicensed gay marriage ceremonies? As opposed to the 35,000 or so Americans "Edge of America" (hosted by one Rick Amato, an empty talking head so ill informed that he thought Bonnie Dumanis was the City District Attorney and didn't know she was gay--this guy makes Rick Roberts look like a sensitive intellectual). Amato's guest was none other than local reformed-gay turned-homophobic gay-basher James Hartline.
Topic du nuit? You guessed it. Jerry "Gay-lover" Sanders. Hartline, in a Falwellesque rant, blamed all the corruption in San Diego on the corrupt morality of our politicians and accused Sanders and Dumanis of being part of the gay conspiracy to take the gay issue off the table so they can distract as with issues like running the city, meanwhile pushing through their hidden gay agenda to take over society. Hartline went on to point out that Sanders gave money to groups that put on gay camps to brainwash children into becoming gay. At which point I turned to music.
(Note to the KCBQ program director: Dude, how do you stomach putting this drivel on the air?)
There you go. Told ya so. Look, I know Hartline is a nut job, Dimato is a troglodyte and Praeger is a moral fraud. But people listen to them. Little old ladies alone in their house late at night yearning for a human voice, angry white guys looking for someone to blame-conservative Republicans, for the most part, many of whom will base their vote on ephemeral, visceral issues like gay marriage.
And it is going to hurt Sanders in next year. Not because I want it to be so. Not because I say it will be so. But because that's the way the political process has been going (or, perhaps better said, corroding) for the last generation.
Which is actually good news for San Diego Democrats whose chances of winning the mayor's office (if they can only find a candidate...) will be much higher should Republican votes throw more support behind truer social conservative Steve Francis rather than Gentleman Jerry in the June primary. Facing a candidate from the conservative right, San Diego Democrats should be able to rally moderates and progressives to victory. Indeed, my bet is Democrats not only keep their 5:3 advantage on the council, but come out of the November election with a Democrat in the mayor's office and a 6:3 majority on the council.
But more on that later.