Didn’t anybody in the White House vet Antonio Villaraigosa to check whether he was ready for prime time and national media as Chair of the Democratic National Convention? Yes, he is mayor of Los Angeles, a major city, but he has not exactly been a success, either in job performance or effectively making his case to the press.
On Tuesday, radio guys John and Ken played some examples of the mayor’s difficulty in speaking clearly: Listen.
Mayor Villaraigosa got off to a questionable start in the convention wars by accusing Republicans of tokenism, saying “You can’t just trot out a brown face or a Spanish surname and expect people are going to vote for your party or your candidate.” It was a funny thing to say for a guy who has gotten his success largely from his skin color, certainly not his ability or work ethic. He was elected mayor of Los Angeles in 2005 around the time the hispanic population approached 50 percent.
The diversity-enthralled media was convinced he was destined for great things, so early smiles turned upside-down in California newsrooms when the mayor’s initial feelers for a governor campaign went nowhere. He announced his withdrawal from the pre-campaign in June of 2009, leaving the Democrat field to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and aging retread Jerry Brown.
Los Angeles Magazine zinged the mayor with a June 2009 cover story Dear Mr. Mayor that presented a list of complaints in a tone of disappointment, along with a memorable image declaring Failure.
A 2008 investigation by LA Weekly found that Villaraigosa spent only 11 percent of his hyped 16-hour workdays engaged in city business.
Tony Villar (his earlier name before his self-constructed makeover) appeared to be on a glidepath to genteel political obscurity in some appropriate democrat or raza non-profit. (He graduated from the unaccredited People’s College of Law but failed the bar exam despite at least four tries, which limits his career choices.)
But then Obama called with his request for a brown face, er a diverse public official to be his convention chair, and the mayor’s career was miraculously resurrected. The impressionable media were impressed enough with Villar’s new celebrity of basking in the Obama sunlight, and that was enough to put him back on the list of gubernatorial candidates. He got laudatory headlines like Villaraigosa’s big moment arrives with Democratic convention (from la Times of course) and Villaraigosa seizes moment in spotlight (San Francisco Chronicle).
Another noteworthy headline of a different flavor:
Is ‘Villaraigosa’ Spanish for ‘Village Idiot’?, By Roger L Simon, PJMedia, September 3, 2012
Is “Villaraigosa” Spanish for “village idiot”?
Claro que no, but it might as well be, considering the remarks of the Los Angeles mayor, a sleazy party hack who — as most Angelenos know — spends more time chasing skirts than doing anything for this city, which is in by far the worst shape it has been in any time since I arrived here in 1968. And those who are suffering most are the Hispanics and blacks Villaraigosa relied upon for his election and pretends to help. [. . .]
But while the hispanic hopeful of yesteryear was bumbling through talking-head appearances, the press became more focused on the newly designated future star, Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio. The White House is happy to have the media speculate that the 37-year-old could become the “first hispanic President”: it’s another argument for hispanics to vote for Obama, that they should stick with him to reach a Mexican president at a later date.