Rose Pak's Vulgar Display of Power
The video of power broker Rose Pak's triumphalist tongue-lashings of the city's elected officials as they rolled beneath her feet at the Chinese New Year's parade is enjoying its 15 minutes of Internet fame.
Online commentators relish heaping scorn upon San Francisco when our attempts at progressive enlightenment backfire. But now they're missing their real opportunity. In this city, those who go to the trouble of being democratically elected must ritualistically and publicly supplicate themselves to a backroom kingmaker who isn't even registered to vote. This vulgar harridan then publicly harangues them with stinging, personal critiques. These rebukes aren't particularly funny or clever, but are then described as "a roast."
It seems San Franciscans don't know the meaning of a "roast." When Chris Daly said the only San Francisco politician more besieged by black cocks than Mark Leno is Ed Jew, it was nasty -- but that's the kind of shit you say at a roast. Pak, instead, offered our elected leadership unvarnished and often disturbingly accurate appraisals of their shortcomings, or simply stated what they needed to do to stay off her shitlist.
As is so often the case, the very funniest moment involved poor Eric Mar.
When the scourge of Happy Meals rolled to a stop beneath Pak's podium, he -- and, now all the world -- was treated to the uncomfortable spectacle of having his entire essence summarized in a matter of seconds (you can see it at around the 6:25 mark in the video).
Addressing Mar directly, Pak says, "Sometimes people ask me, 'who do you listen to?' And I always have trouble, because I really don't know who you listen to. But, anyway, I found out the best way to reach you, Eric Mar, is to be the last person to speak to him."
People used to say that about George W. Bush, too. It was not meant as a compliment. Pak was far from finished, however.
"Eric Mar is very up front and honest. He doesn't have a mean bone in him. But sometimes, he's too kind, so he's for everything and everybody. Even to the detriment of his own career. So, that's Eric Mar in a nutshell. Right? Right?"
And here's where the hilarity starts. After being told that he is too nice, that he agrees with everybody even when it's not in his best interest, and having been being publicly patronized and psychoanalyzed, when Pak says "Right? Right?" Mar nods. He agrees!
Hey, Eric Mar: These aren't the droids you're looking for!
But wait -- still not finished. Pak notes that Mar "did one smart thing" -- he hired an aide with ties to her Chinatown Community Development Center. So now she feels his chances for reelection are looking up.
|As Pak notes, politics is a "blood sport."|
This isn't exactly a "roast" -- and Mar may be the most roastable politician this city has yet produced; if Paula Deen ever gets within 10 yards of him he's a dead man.
Pak's commentary at times veered into cheap attempts at humor -- lighting firecrackers beneath DA George Gascón's crotch for example -- but more often it was simply the local equivalent of The Great and Powerful Oz Has Spoken.
To John Avalos: "You better work with our mayor. ... Okay, he's going to kowtow to our mayor."
To David Campos: "I like him. So give him a round of applause."
To David Chiu: Whether she will meddle in his reelection campaign "all depends on how you behave in the next few months."
It'd be tempting to say that, having unsubtly connived her pal Ed Lee into the mayoralty, Pak now feels entitled to do whatever the hell she wants in public. Too tempting. "She's felt entitled to do whatever the hell she wants for her entire career," notes political consultant Jim Ross. "This is status quo for the Chinatown parade."
All that's different this year is that someone taped her preening display and put it on the Internet. And she's unsubtly connived her pal Ed Lee into the mayoralty, which gives this commentary a little more gravitas.
In the meantime, it seems Pak has settled nicely into a unique role here in San Francisco. Picture her as our very own Billy Carter --but imagine Billy engineered Jimmy's election and told him what to do.
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