Mr. Villaraigosa is not as

Latino as he seems,” opines Britain's The Economist. “Intellectually

he is no match for Mr. Brown, nor ideologically for Mr. Newsom. But he is

a Machiavellian politician, ready to make or cross allies.“

And these are the mayor's good points, according to the article's uncredited writer. The piece, titled “Down and Perhaps In,” appeared today and seems to offer faint praise for Antonio Villaraigosa's presumed bid for California's governorship. “Villaraigosa is not finished yet,” reads the encouraging caption of under the mayor's photo, and reflects the profile's ambivalent tone of not quite writing off the mayor's chances in 2010.

“Nor is Mr. Villaraigosa quite the disaster the local press alleges,” the piece continues, noting that “the cards have been stacked against him” because of the institutional restraints placed on L.A. mayors' powers.

The Economist, while acknowledging the intellectual and ideological strengths, respectively, of Attorney General Jerry Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, squints a little too hard when it comes to finding weaknesses to stack up against Villaraigosa's strengths. Brown is too old for voters, we're told, and the “well-groomed” Newsom is a “pariah” to the right, thanks to his support of gay marriage.

Anyone who has watched Jerry Brown up close lately, however, can

testify to how energized he is in person; and, frankly, Newsom became a

“pariah” to the conservatives who'd never vote for him anyway merely by living in San Francisco.

It's still a long way

off to November 2010, but the mayor may want to look around for more

enthusiastic reviews to quote in his fundraising literature than The Economist piece.

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