The Right Coast

August 27, 2005
Donna Frye and Maxine Waters Together at Anti-War Rally
By Gail Heriot

Not everyone can picture my fellow Right Coaster Maimon Schwarzschild and me listening to Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) at an anti-war rally down at the Union Hall (IAMAW). But while it's hard to classify such gatherings as a part of our natural habitat, those who cannot picture it are suffering from a lack of imagination. Right Coasters make it a practice to turn up in improbable places....

Curiosity inspired us to see whether San Diego mayoral candidate (and self-described surfer chick) Donna Frye would appear before this crowd of 250-300 Friday afternoon as a handbill advertising the event had promised. We figured her political handlers would surely persuade her that such an appearance was too risky. Waters is a charter member of the Angry Left and introducing her at a rally while a candidate for mayor of San Diego is not the wisest of moves. San Diego has plenty of Democrats, more than it has Republicans, but in general they are not fans of Waters. Frye did appear, however, and gave Waters a cordial introduction (though she was careful enough to avoid specifically endorsing Waters' views).

Waters, of course, first burst onto the national scene during the L.A. riots that took place in her district in the early 1990s--she called them a "rebellion" and "a spontaneous reaction to a lot of injustice." Rather than express concern for the Korean grocers and other small businessman who had their livelihood destroyed by looters and arsonists, she made it clear that her sympathies lay with the rioters:

"One lady said her children didn't have any shoes. She just saw those shoes there, a chance for all her children to have new shoes. Goddam it. It was such a tear-jerker. I might have gone in and taken them for her myself."

And whose home do you suppose she visited--that of Reginald Denny, the innocent bystander who was dragged from his truck by rioters for the "crime" of being white or that of Damian Williams, the rioter who hurled the chunk of concrete at Denny, coming just a hair short of killing him, and then performed a hideous victory dance over his body? Williams', of course.

Since then, Waters has continued to earn her reputation as a favorite of the Angry Left. In 2004, not a single member of the House of Representatives had staked out a voting record on foreign policy or on social policy to her left, according to the National Journal. She was the fringe. And as for her anger, she put it best herself: "I have a right to my anger, and I don't want anybody telling me that I shouldn't be, that it's not nice to be, and that's something's wrong with me because I get angry."

On this outing, however, Waters was almost subdued. Perhaps that's because the Frye campaign asked her to be. Or perhaps it's just that she's getting along in years. It's hard to be angry all the time, year after year. But it seemed to me that the crowd was longing to be whipped into a frenzy. And she (deliberately I think) didn't do it.

It's not that she was reasonable. She repeated the "Bush lied" canard and the audience seemed more than happy to believe her accusaion. And she claimed to be concerned that the Pentagon is deliberately concealing the true death toll among Americans in Iraq and vowed to go to Germany to ...uh... well she apparently intends to count hospital beds, I guess. During the question period, she called for Bush's impeachment arguing that "[t]his is what impeachment is all about;" it's not "who you slept with but who you killed." She also appeared to endorse a statement by the audience that the 2004 election had been rigged by the manufacturers of election machines and added that "we're being ripped off at the ballot box."

But on the whole Waters' tone was more even than what is normally associated with her public statements. It's a good thing for Frye, I suppose. But the whole incident lends credibility to something I was told by an activist in local politics I spoke to a few evenings ago. He obviously liked Donna Frye on a personal level. But he complained that she accepts as fact anything she is told by those on the far left and rejects anything she is told by those to the right of that group. That's not a great instinct. If the polls are correct, however, it won't matter. They show her opponent, Jerry Sanders, ahead by a substantial margin.