Editor’s Notes

Pub date February 6, 2007
WriterTim Redmond

It’s been almost a week. The Guardian has moved on — to our annual sex issue.

And now Gavin Newsom is seeking "treatment" (which sounds like a lot more than it apparently is) for alcohol abuse, and he wants everything to go back to normal. But as we report in "More Than the Affair," this page, normal at Newsom’s City Hall isn’t much to be proud of. And in the meantime, a lot of damage is done — and not just (or even primarily) to the mayor’s career.

When it comes to the sex scandal, Newsom made his own bed. And I wish him well in his battle with alcohol — I know how tough that can be. But there’s another point here. Newsom is more than just a politician. He’s more than the mayor of San Francisco. He’s become a national symbol, particularly for same-sex marriage, and his reputation as an honest, ethical guy, a young rising star in the Democratic Party — and yeah, an Irish Catholic — has helped that cause.

The Ruby Tourk affair may well have been consensual, and if so, we can let it lie. But it undermines the one really good thing Newsom has done. Predictably, the right wing is having a field day: the mayor of San Francisco loves gay marriage, but he doesn’t respect traditional marriage. It’s a stupid line, but it hurts. And Newsom’s weak, simpering apology doesn’t help San Francisco or any of our shared causes either. He just looks like a loser.

I have to say: drinking or no drinking, the guy just isn’t mature enough to be in room 200.

Yeah, Willie Brown went out with younger women and impregnated a campaign fundraiser, and nobody cared. That was in part because he didn’t screw city employees who reported to him and in part because he knew how to handle the press, but it was also in part because, by the time he was mayor, Brown didn’t stand for anything. He was a political wheeler and dealer; there weren’t many people who had invested hopes and dreams in him.

Newsom took on that role a few years ago, and when you do that, the disappointments are that much bitterer. *