Well, it looks like L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will get what he wanted all along: a ticket out of this place.
Everyone seems to love this guy but the people who elected him (and who've been dealing with that decision for the past half-decade). The New York Times ran a glowing piece last month on Villaraigosa's big Washington aspirations, using out-of-touch political analysts to argue he's worthy of higher office.
Now, the California state capitol's rag of record is jumping on the Villaraigosa love train, to nauseating effect:
Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain relays the few breathless moments he shared with Villaraigosa the other day, while our mayor was on City Hall vaycay (per usual) to lobby for a state bill.
When the mayor was thrown a racist comment from a man walking by, Morain's bleeding heart skipped a beat:
That all came into focus, jarringly, as he and I were leaving the Capitol, and a middle-aged man wearing jeans and a T-shirt was entering.
“Go back to Mexico,” the man said as he walked past Villaraigosa.
What? Yes, we all heard the same thing.
A Latino politician pushing radical immigration policy, stereotyped as an immigrant? The horrors.
And that's how one stupid comment from one stupid guy somehow turned into the column “Bigotry is a near-daily battle for Villaraigosa,” a PR dream that the mayor couldn't have coaxed from the Bee if he or his seven full-time press officers had tried. (And lord knows they try.)
L.A.'s colossal flop of a mayor is subsequently transformed into a civil-rights martyr deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize by some nothing conservative with a personal vendetta:
Villaraigosa flashed his Hollywood smile, laughed it off, and kept on walking. I went back into the Capitol to find the guy, who, as it turned out, was heading to the same Revenue and Taxation hearing that Villaraigosa was leaving.
Do you say that mayors to all the time? I asked.
“Eh, he is a pissant,” the man said, proceeding to spew about how an “illegal alien” killed the son of a friend down in L.A., and how it was Villaraigosa's fault. “He is a Mexican. That is what he claims. He is always defending illegal Mexicans and Mexico. … I have no qualms about saying anything to him.”
Like any pol with a controversial stance, Villaraigosa probably does get his fair share of insults from the peanut gallery. And hey, if you base your entire campaign and career on being the voice of the illegal immigrant, you might get some knuckleheads thinking you're Mexican.
But Morain, who has apparently never met an A-hole before, takes from this theatrical staging of good-vs-evil on the Capitol steps that Villaraigosa is the No. 1 freedom fighter in national politics.
As Davi Rodrigues, American-Period made clear, Darwinism is a process. We haven't arrived. As for same-sex marriage, the president of the United States should follow the mayor of Los Angeles, stop the silly word games, and use the power of his position to urge that the nation move beyond its history of bigotry and discrimination to a higher realm.
Bringing us back to Washington. Villaraigosa has spent so much time familiarizing the rest of America with his mug that Los Angeles has crumbled from neglect, both financially and physically.
The New York Times identified his areas of accomplishment in February as “crime, mass transit expansion and the environment.”
Quite the opposite.
1) Villaraigosa's crime (and emergency-response time) figures are pretty much bogus. 2) He hasn't made a lick of progress securing the funds for his promised transit revolution, and presides over a city that has abandoned the transportation needs of the poor for flashier, trendier pipe dreams. 3) Nearly every one of his big green projects has collapsed due to poor planning. See: the DWP's renewable-energy debacle and the costly clean-tech “cornerstone” that the city had to quietly abandon when reality set in.
Villariagosa is, and always will be, a man of show. Nevermind what that has cost our city in its harshest low since the Great Depression. Even while the safest L.A. news outlets have declared him a “failure” and a “disappointment,” he's got the Sacramento and Washington press corps at his feet — and that's clearly all that matters.