With Mayor Gavin Newsom jetting off to the Swiss Alps, there to schmooze with the political and cultural glitterati at the World Economic Forum, it seems his adversaries on the Board of Supervisors can’t resist backbiting. You wonder if they want him to come back.
You’ll pardon the allusion to Richard Nixon’s path-breaking trip to China in 1972, when John G. Schmitz, the late, uber-right-wing congressman from Orange County, quipped that he didn’t object to the trip, he just minded the centrist Republican president coming back. The supes aren’t quite that intemperate.
Their preferred itinerary for the mayor, if you’re to believe Board President Aaron Peskin and Supervisor Chris Daly, would be a round trip to Washington, D.C. There the nation’s mayors are gathering, a significant number of big city mayors at least, where many of them expect to scoop their fingers into the federal pie.
Messrs. Peskin and Daly apparently find such a spectacle more edifying than the rarefied stimuli of Davos. Perhaps the mayors’ conference will produce some good ideas, but generally they’re about cities with clout, many of them affluent, taking tax dollars from poorer regions — not exactly "progressive."
The Democrats have taken charge of Capitol Hill, our own Rep. Nancy Pelosi most notably, and so they see an opportunity to bring back those dollars, Daly even mentioning something about a "progressive" form of urban renewal, which the best students of urban renewal understand to be an oxymoron.
Historically, urban renewal almost never helps folks on the lowest rungs, those kept objects of the progs’ solicitude, but it does boost shakedown artists and empower city politicians — often the same perfervid people. At this hour, such people see a bonanza on Capitol Hill.
To be sure, Mayor Newsom probably sees the same gold mine, but he recognizes that in this era of instant communications he doesn’t need to go prospecting in person. If he can’t get the House speaker on the telephone, why should he get up in the morning?
It might be true, as Prof. Daniel W. Drezner explained in these pages Wednesday, that Davos has peaked in global influence. This will be the mayor’s third invited attendance there, and, frankly, Davos may be sooooooo four years ago. What was it Yogi Berra said about that restaurant? That nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded?
Something like that probably describes Davos, but, the mayor’s timing notwithstanding, we rather like it that he’s paid for his working vacation there. There’s salutary symbolism in his stand for globalism, just when the anti-globalists are stirring again. And on one of his last visits, according to his spokesman, he latched on to the idea of bringing Wi-Fi to The City. It’s all about creativity, you see, and that may be in shorter supply at mayors’ conferences.