California governor Gavin Newsom wants to be president. If he claims otherwise — and he has — that’s Gavin. Integrity is not his strong suit.
According to the RealClearPolitics aggregate of polls, the Democratic Party’s leading 2024 candidates are in preferential order: Biden, Harris, Buttigieg, Sanders, Clinton, Warren, Newsom, Ocasio-Cortez and Klobuchar. There’s also talk of a Michelle Obama draft.
Newsom’s poll numbers remain low. His state is a mess and his budget surpluses have turned into a $30 billion deficit. He is a whitey-white Anglo heterosexual in an identity-mad party. But the Democratic field is weak, and the Biden candidacy tentative. The little girl on the school bus, Kamala Harris, is the most widely disdained vice president in decades.
Newsom has repeatedly said he doesn’t want to run for president in 2024. But in late March he transferred $10 million of his state campaign funds to a new federal political action committee. His “Campaign for Democracy” targets Republican leaders nationwide whom Newsom professes seek to “ban books,” “kidnap migrants” and “stoke racism.” He does not believe this nonsense. It’s drivel for partisan cameras and low-information voters.
Fifty-five-year-old Newsom is a bon vivant made good with Getty and then Netflix and Facebook fortunes. A winemaker and restaurateur, he has never had even a slight connection with the workaday world he claims to represent. His ethical lapses and steamy private life demonstrate character that in less permissive times would have rendered him — as it would many public officials today — ineligible for office.
In the midst of draconian Covid lockdowns, Newsom’s notorious 2020 French Laundry dinner with campaign operatives and lobbyists at the showy Napa Valley bistro, where the basic prix fixe is $350, sealed his reputation as a phony and confidence man.
Still, the former San Francisco mayor’s louche soap-opera looks and breezy style fascinate voters. While a 2021 recall attempt revealed massive discontent with his performance, and more broadly with progressive policies, he easily beat back his opponents and enhanced his political fortunes.
Right now, the decrepit eighty-nine-year-old Dianne Feinstein dominates the news. Newsom would love for Feinstein to throw in the towel tomorrow. Having promised any available Senate appointment to a black woman, Newsom is eager to tap Oakland congresswoman Barbara Lee to ingratiate himself to South Carolina’s and, he hopes, the nation’s black voters.
For her part, Barbara Lee is co-sponsoring a bill in Congress to study racial restitution proposals and has called on states and the federal government to pass reparations legislation. “Reparations are not only morally justifiable, but they have the potential to address longstanding racial disparities and inequalities,” Lee recently declared.
In 2020, amid Black Lives Matter anarchy, Newsom unleashed a dormant monster, denouncing “structural racism and bias built into and permeating throughout our democratic and economic institutions.”
Newsom and the state legislature could have closed down an arguably undeserved, unfundable and unconstitutional folly at the start. But that ship has sailed, and multiple media sources are priming black America to expect a pie-in-the-sky cash windfall. This puts Newsom in a fix. To get nominated in 2024, any Democratic candidate will apparently need to accede uncritically to cash reparations and the arguments on their behalf.
The California Reparations Task Force contends that their slave-free state is responsible for a more than $500 billion payback on account of decades of over-policing, mass incarceration, redlining, poor health care and an extensive list of other “harms.” The wacky numbers, shaky propositions, and absurd remedies betray the racial shakedown for what it is.
When asked if he endorsed the recommendations, artful dodger Newsom replied, “We should continue to work as a nation to reconcile our original sin of slavery and understand how that history has shaped our country. Dealing with that legacy is about much more than cash payments.”
Newsom’s eyes are on the prize. “What’s happening in those red states, it’s not who we are,” he said in his Campaign for Democracy video. “It’s un-American. It’s undemocratic, and all it takes to fight back is a willingness to stand toe to toe and say ‘enough.’”
Enough of what? Vagrancy and crime? Gonzo schools? Dilapidated freeways strewn with trash? The California High Speed Rail Authority?
Beyond the manicured bubbles of the rich, California is falling down, and the steepest plunge has been on Newsom’s watch.
Worse, California Democrats under Newsom’s direction have created an invincible army of public and privately funded offices, organizations and activists to advance the equity catechism, climate eschatology and elaborate protections — “sanctuaries” — for transsexuals and illegal aliens. San Francisco’s mayor, state senator, board of supervisors, district attorney’s office, school board, police and representative in Congress — the unique Nancy Pelosi — are politically beholden to or themselves simpatico with far-out radicals, cultural subversives and lunatics.
The progressive left — technocratic, utopian, and smug — considers California the nation’s chief laboratory for climate awareness, clean energy and social justice. A decade ago, it could profess gnostic insight and promise a future techno-wonderland. No longer.
Downtown San Francisco is emptying, grimy and rundown. Junkies and madmen prevail, leases expire, restaurants and shops close, and areas that a few years ago felt radiant and future-is-here now feel dangerous and weird.
This month’s retail departure of Nordstrom and T-Mobile caps two years of storefront surrender. On the way out, the company that housed Nordstrom decried “unsafe conditions for customers, retailers and employees… preventing an economic recovery of the area,” adding that “the dynamics of the downtown San Francisco market have changed dramatically” and are deteriorating.
Business exits are occurring across virtually all industries — manufacturing, aerospace, financial services, real estate, chemicals and healthcare — but perhaps most disturbing, a large number of high-technology businesses are leaving, says a 2022 Hoover Institution study. Silicon Valley’s Google and Meta and San Francisco’s Salesforce, Twitter and Lyft have laid off thousands this year. Silicon Valley Bank — one of the nation’s largest financial institutions, whose clients were mostly in the tech industry, failed in March, followed by San Francisco’s First Republic Bank in May.
Up and down the state, county and municipal governments run on the dark triad of public-employee unions, the dependency-welfare clot and its paid custodians. Millions — only a fraction of them native-born residents to the state — scrape by on EBT, housing vouchers and Medi-Cal, living grubbily amid rancid 7-Elevens, smoke shops, massage parlors and decaying tract housing. In law-loose enclaves, ethnocentrism and suspicion of strangers prevails, in contrast to the la-la diversity of Berkeley or Bolinas.
Yet consider the Democratic Party’s presidential field. Newsom and his operatives certainly have. Biden and Harris are box-office poison. Sanders, Warren and Clinton are ready for assisted care. Buttigieg is in over his head and Ocasio-Cortez is merely a flash in the pan. Klobuchar remains seriously charisma-challenged. Voilà, Gavin!
In California politics, Newsom’s slick looks, nonchalant amorality and analgesic words are features, not bugs. It is yet uncertain how this style will play to the nation at large. The Democratic National Committee magicians need soon to pull an electable rabbit out of the hat, a Trump-killer or plausible alternative to Ron DeSantis or Glenn Youngkin. Time is growing short.