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Like all blue-city mayors, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles has been a colossal, miserable failure. So when Joe Biden announced yesterday that he was appointing Garcetti ambassador to India, it wasn’t surprising to see huge cheers of “good riddance” — not just from the right, but the radical left, too:
As a citizen of Los Angeles, leave tonight Eric Garcetti. You are a horrible Mayor! https://t.co/4DrKoz88iN
— TheLeoTerrell (@TheLeoTerrell) July 10, 2021
— #BlackLivesMatter-LA (@BLMLA) July 9, 2021
Garcetti was hated in all quarters. His COVID lockdowns brought untold misery to the city. The homeless crisis, which he stoked by shoveling millions of dollars at, is now out of control. Crime is soaring, the police are defunded, and the streets are full of potholes. And his administration is loaded with scandals, lots of pay-to-play and union overtime scams, which Garcetti covers up. (Peter Schweizer, in Profiles in Corruption, documented many.)
But the appointment is a weird one, given that Garcetti is a top Democrat, a co-chair of Biden’s re-election committee, a member of his vice presidential selection committee, and chief of his inaugural ball. He also has well known presidential ambitions of his own.
The press is saying it was a reward to a crony. But that makes little sense, given that the job’s a demotion. Going from mayor of America’s second largest city to any ambassadorship, even a big one, is obviously a step downward. More likely, Joe was sidelining a troublemaking rival by offering him a “plum.”
Now, it’s very likely that Biden liked Garcetti a lot based on his Hollywood ties, and his record of pay-to-play and other corruption, most notably his requests from corporations to donate big dollars as “behests” to his pet projects. According to Schweizer, Garcetti played that game way better than his northern rival, Gov. Gavin Newsom, by shaking down ten times as much in those “behests.” And Garcetti, recognizing a kindred soul, liked Biden back. Of all the Democrats out there, Garcetti was there when the power players were determining that Joe would be the Democratic nominee at the South Carolina primary and gave him an early endorsement.
So suddenly sticking Garcetti in India, a place he has otherwise shown minimal interest in, is kind of noticible for something being off.
To start, Kamala’s niece, Meena, has already screwed up U.S. ties with India, so Garcetti’s going to have problems. Garcetti’s acceptance is already pretty strange — he’s not going as representative for the U.S., he says, but to do good things for Los Angeles and its political machine.
Here’s his statement, according to the New York Post:
“Today, the President announced that I am his nominee to serve as U.S. Ambassador to India. I am honored to accept his nomination to serve in this role. I have committed my life to service — as an activist, as a teacher, as a naval officer, as a public servant, and if confirmed, next as an ambassador. Part of that commitment means that when your nation calls, you answer that call,” he said in a statement.
Now, it may well be that Garcetti’s got big political problems with investigators breathing down his neck at home, and his exit to New Delhi is convenient. Maybe it’s a bailout for an ally. Can’t discount it entirely.
More likely, though, it looks like a Biden bid to get him out of the picture. Historically, when a president wants to sideline a rival, he packs him off to some ambassadorship abroad.
Pete Buttigieg, recall, turned down Biden’s offer of the ambassadorship to China in favor of the higher-profile transport secretary “infrastructure” job instead. The logic there was clear.
Note that the talk of Garcetti taking the ambassadorship started in May, right about when stories about senile Joe were starting to bubble up in the press. Maybe Garcetti’s exit was a bid to make the senility stories stop.
Because these days, it seems that everyone knows that Joe is senile. There have been press attacks on Kamala Harris and press puffery about Pete Buttigieg in recent weeks, as well as a gushing profile from Vogue about first lady Jill Biden, currently playing the role of Mrs. Wilson. It’s obviously the crossfire of a power struggle at the White House. I tried to parse that out a bit here, thinking maybe Buttigieg was making a power-grab against Joe, and Jill was undercutting Kamala.
Now, in light of this ambassadorship, it comes to light that maybe it was Garcetti leading the move to get rid of Joe. That’s because he’s even closer to both Kamala and Buttigieg than he is to Joe.
Biden, and Jill, could have easily arranged to knock out ambitious Kamala with the negative press as well as the border assignment she was unfit for and sure to fail at. They also likely arranged the negative Vogue coverage of Kamala and the gushy cover story about Jill.
But the spate of positive stories about Buttigieg suddenly coming out at a time when everyone is thinking of how to get rid of Joe could have been Garcetti’s hand striking back.
Garcetti, might be the real puppetmaster in a sneaky campaign to push both Kamala and Buttigieg as presidential material to take Joe out. The offered ambassadorship to Garcetti would therefore be Joe’s response.
On the matter of Harris, Garcetti was on the four-person team that chose Kamala to serve as Biden’s running mate. He told Fox 11 in a short video clip what that was like.
On the matter of Buttigieg, Garcetti has said this:
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s dream of a 2020 presidential run may be over, but he’s still comparing himself to the field of Democratic candidates.
Garcetti, 49, quipped that he’s an “older, straighter Pete” Buttigieg during a speech Thursday, likening himself to the former South Bend, Ind., mayor because they both served in the Navy Reserve. Both politicians also are Rhodes scholars and play the piano.
It wasn’t the first time Garcetti has linked himself to Buttigieg, 38, now a top-tier presidential candidate who came in second in this week’s New Hampshire primary.
“It’s nice to have Pete be like my mayoral avatar, to show that the theory was correct and that there is, I think, a hunger for a new, outside-Washington mayoral leadership,” Garcetti told the Atlantic earlier this year.
Garcetti’s éminence grise, a guy named Rick Jacobs, described by Schweizer as a top adviser and political wheeler dealer, went to Buttigieg’s putative wedding.
The pair also started an infrastructure fund together in 2017, noted like this by Politico:
Prospective presidential candidates tend to launch PACs to pump money into campaigns of people who might prove helpful. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is starting a nonprofit with other mayors, union leaders and business executives to fund what they call innovation investments around the country.
Called Accelerator for America, the group will hold its first meeting Nov. 7 and 8 in South Bend, Indiana, timed to coincide with the anniversary of last year’s election. The second meeting is already booked for February, in Columbia, South Carolina.
It all has the feel of Joe Biden getting rid of a political troublemaker out to get his job to get his own people in. Garcetti is a much stronger money-man and political operator than other Democrats such as Newsom. He plays the corrupt big-city games better than any of them. He’s not a total freak such as the mayors of New York and Chicago, so he largely stays off the press radar. He’s just a troublemaker for Joe, and suddenly he’s getting packed off to India. It remains to be seen as to whether he stays there.