The Rest of The Feinstein Story

March 14, 2013 2:42 p.m.

Today readers have been all over this great moment when Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) took a swipe at Ted Cruz for some really silly and condescending remarks about guns. Here’s her comments about it this afternoon on CNN.

But there’s some backstory that I know many of you know about but I’m not sure everyone does — especially not some younger people. It’s also one I remember very vividly. And it’s been rattling through my head all day.Feinstein was on the scene at one of the biggest American political assassinations of the post-60s era — the murder of George Moscone and Harvey Milk in San Francisco in November 1978. Feinstein was actually the first into Milk’s office and made a momentary and vain effort to revive Milk who was clearly already dead.

The other part of this story was that Feinstein was then head of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. So Mayor Moscone’s death meant she was the new mayor.

I was a little boy growing up in California at the time, 9 years old. We lived in Southern California. But it was still a very big deal even there. And it came just a week or so after the Jonestown mass suicide, which was in Guyana but grew out of San Francisco and California, which added somehow to the sickness and horror of it. I remember the whole thing vividly. A very surreal and obviously tragic story, and even more surreal because the murderer wasn’t some random loner but a guy who himself had just resigned from the City Council.

The story is obviously part of the story of Harvey Milk, who was then the first openly gay person elected to anything anywhere in America. But Feinstein was also deeply part of it.

Here’s the clip many of us remember when Feinstein came outside City Hall to announce Milk and Moscone’s deaths …

I was talking about this on Twitter. And someone flagged to me this video, which I’d never seen before, apparently the first and maybe only time she’s spoken about the issue at this length publicly. It’s really worth watching …

I don’t want to make any real connection to today. Cruz’s moment today with her stands entirely on its own. Nothing to do with this. I make no connection to it. But I do think it’s important to get a sense of who Feinstein is and what the gun issue is for her.

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