In blogland, something that happened last week can usually be considered to have long slipped down the memory hole, out of our knowledge. But, belatedly, Joan Walsh has drawn my attention to my Congresswoman choking up while talking about the dangers that may flow from violent political speech.
Here's the short [1:18] video.
Pelosi remembers the late 1970s in San Francisco when a deranged white male, who had been a Supervisor, a police officer and a firefighter, acted out some people's perception that a liberal mayor (George Moscone) and an elected queer (Harvey Milk) could not lead a legitimate government. So Dan White shot them both at City Hall.
Nancy (we call our pols by their first names here) is not the first San Francisco veteran to recall those shootings in the context of the Obama presidency. Diane Feinstein, who found the bodies, made an odd reference to "the ballot or the bullet" during the inauguration ceremony.
Nancy and Diane are tough birds. They honestly do fear that current racial and economic resentments, amplified by sensational Republican mass media, could lead to political violence. In fact, this nasty stew already has as the murder of Dr. Tiller in Wichita while serving as an usher at this church shows.
Combine guns with wackjobs and tell them they have the right to feel unmanned and you get murder.
I take some offense at Joan Walsh's assertion that the assassinations of Moscone and Milk "permanently disabled liberal politics here." Come on, Joan: just as one example, San Francisco has created citywide universal access to health care (for residents, in the city). That seems a pretty good example of liberal accomplishment that the rest of the country could emulate. (Thank you, former Supervisor and now Assemblyman Ammiano.)
I don't think we can count on Republicans to dial it down. They haven't got much to run on these days except stoking resentment.
This stuff has limits as long as "law enforcement" and the military doesn't join it. I don't think it is paranoia to wonder whether, as in San Francisco in the 1970s, some of the legally-empowered guys with the guns might share resentment against a Black man who dares to be president. I see every movement President Obama makes as informed by awareness of that potential. Quite what that means I can't spell out, but I don't think political observers can discount the degree to which this President is forced to shape his agenda around trying to tamp down the national demons.