San Franciscans sing “Star Spangled Banner” at inauguration viewing

January 20, 2009

San Francisco is widely regarded as a reserved and cynical place, but when my daughter and I watched President Barack Obama’s inauguration at Civic Center Plaza the air was alive with pride, patriotism, expectation and hope. I have lived in San Francisco for most of my life, and I have never seen anything like it. The crowd captured the vibe of the day by singing “The Star Spangled Banner” from the heart, something I never expected to see in San Francisco. Watch it here.

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Top 10 best and worst communicators of 2008

January 7, 2009

If the past is prologue, perhaps I’m not too late to point out communications guru Bert Decker’s list of the 10 best and worst communicators of 2008. I was pleased to introduce San Francisco Examiner readers to Bert’s observations back when I was editorial-page editor there, and he’s never failed to produce relevant insight each year. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has the uncommon distinction of making the 2008 list twice: once among the best, and once with the worst.

Sarah Palin at the August 31st Road to the Convention Rally. This was taken just after she entered, before John McCain delivered his speech to over 10,000 supporters in the T.R. Hughes Baseball Stadium in OFallon, MO.

Sarah Palin photo by Jeff Geerling, http://flickr.com/people/lifeisaprayer/

PretePress readers may recall a similar observation I made following Palin’s speech to the Republican Convention in September.

From Bert’s blog:

1.    Barack Obama
As his star continues to rise, there’s just no contest for #1 Best Communicator.
And it’s not just because he was elected President that he deserves #1, but that he was elected President BECAUSE of his communications ability. President Elect Obama is the first repeat at #1 (2006) and for the same reason. He vaulted from obscurity on the strength of his words and speeches at the 2004 Democratic Convention, and just kept talking. To date he hasn’t really done much except communicate. Shows you how important that skill is. One of the greatest modern orators, we’ll now see if he can replace Bill Clinton as “the great communicator” while in office.

2.    Tim Russert
He was one of the best, and we’ll miss him.
One of our best TV journalists died this year, and he would have made this list without the posthumous honor. Russert was personable, energetic and open but also tough, incisive and smart. Meet The Press, and Network TV News will never be the same. His son Luke Russert was eloquent in his eulogy, and maybe there will be more…

Read the rest of Bert Decker’s list on his excellent — and useful — blog.

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Making sense of San Francisco’s Nov. 2008 election

November 5, 2008

If your head’s in a spin trying to take in the results of yesterday’s election and you live in San Francisco, take a long lunch this afternoon and pop over to SPUR’s post-election analysis. Expert political numbers man David Latterman and the witty and astute Alex Clemens will explain what happened at the polls yesterday — and how it fits into the context of local electoral politics.

The focus of SPUR’s election analyses usually is on San Francisco, but this time it’s certain to include discussions of the state and federal elections as well.

This regular event has grown over the years into a required piece of post-election analysis for everyone interested in San Francisco elections, so expect a crowded room along with unique insights.

It starts at 12:30 p.m. and runs to 2 p.m., tacking on an additional 30 minutes this time to handle the huge ballot. Five bucks for non-members and free for all SPUR members. San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, 312 Sutter St. at Grant Avenue (an easy walk from BART or the Muni Metro, with limited bike parking right out front). Note that this event takes place not in SPUR’s offices, but rather on the second-floor meeting room of the World Affairs Council.

SPUR

David Latterman’s Fall Line Analytics

Alex Clemens’ Barbary Coast Consulting


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The election’s over — now what?

November 4, 2008

Obama will be the next president of the United States. California Proposition 8 looks to be headed for a win (as of this writing, by about 6 percentage points). San Francisco will have a couple of new supervisors, and a bunch of new laws and policies.

But what does this all mean? Can new officeholders actually do the things they promised in their campaigns? Starting Wednesday, Nov. 5 I’ll analyze selected election results and their potential impacts. Stay tuned.


John McCain quits campaign on a classy note

November 4, 2008

In spite of a few raucous boos from the audience, Arizona Sen. John McCain capped his 2008 campaign for the

Sen. Jouhn McCain

Sen. John McCain

presidency of the United States tonight with a concession speech that recalled the dignity and grace of the way he conducted himself in the early stages of his campaign.

The late-stage McCain campaign went into the ditch in a number of ways, not only losing the race for the White House but also tarnishing the senator’s reputation in the process. McCain, however, reclaimed a big part of his personal reputation with his concession speech. He admitted defeat but also urged his supporters to consider the good of the country and work with the next president.


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Barack Obama wins election, makes history

November 4, 2008

Remember this night well, because it’s something you’ll tell your grandchildren about, even if you voted for the other

Obama stencil found on sidewalk in San Francisco Aug. 24, 2008

Obama stencil found on sidewalk in San Francisco Aug. 24, 2008

guy. Barack Obama has been elected the next president of the United States of America.

Obama’s election as the first African-American president is a watershed moment, and if this great country is very lucky it will be a moment that inspires a new generation of Americans to work for the common good, to strive for and achieve things they had perceived as out of their reach, to recognize that the promise of this nation is and always has been theirs.

Tonight is a night to remember.


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Vote, vote, vote!

November 4, 2008

I’ve emerged from under the cruel thumb of my baby-borne cold too late to write anything of significance in advance of today’s election, unfortunately. But on the plus side, I feel pretty good now, which probably also has something to do with the fact that I’m basking in the afterglow of casting my vote in what has been a fascinating election on the federal, state and local levels.

Voting feels good. Go vote.

Polling place sign, November 2008 election

Polling place sign, November 2008 election