Friday, May 26, 2017

the last book I ever read (David Talbot's Season of the Witch, excerpt twelve)

from Season of the Witch: Enchantment, Terror, and Deliverance in the City of Love by David Talbot:

It has become fashionable in recent decades to disparage public service. The political profession is widely scorned and reviled. But there are times when political leadership seems like a blessing. San Francisco in November 1978 was a broken vessel on a dark sea. The city had endured so many blows and afflictions that it seemed cursed. When deliverance finally came, San Francisco owed it in large part to an unlikely leader. Though she was a homegrown native, she seemed miscast for the role. San Franciscans had a fondness for lovable rogues and other colorful characters. But in a city of Marx brothers, Feinstein was Margaret Dumont, forever distressed and befuddled by the antics around her. Not only was she the grownup in the room, it seemed like she had always been a grownup.

Feinstein was well grounded, resolute, firm, managerial. Even her eccentricities, like her love of uniforms and ceremonial displays of military power, seemed unweirdly un-San Franciscan. Yet she turned out to be precisely the right leader for the time. While she shifted the city back toward the center, she stabilized it enough to allow many of the revolutionary changes that preceded her to become fully absorbed by the body politic. Though she herself was not in harmony with all of these “San Francisco values,” they become enshrined under her leadership.

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