Los Angeles, I’ve always got your back, don’t I? So here’s how I see this election going down for us:
Say that Hillary Clinton does get the Democratic nomination -- and, with the Iraq war stalling and the economy free falling, she wins the election. Boom, she’s got a Cabinet to fill. And who’s her California main man? Who was there for her way back, before Obamamania, bringing in Latino votes in sheaves?
Antonio Villaraigosa. Mr. Future Secretary of Education or Labor or HHS Villaraigosa. Instead of running for reelection in 2009, he’s out of the Getty House and off to the Beltway. Adios, City of Angels and psychotic traffic; hola, City of Lobbyists and cheap taxi rides.
But what happens to us? L.A. will need a mayor, pronto.
I have just the man.
The mastermind mayor, the man who can whip a civic entity into shape faster than Richard Simmons on crack. He’s tanned, he’s rested and he’s ready for some Hollywood prime time -- Rudy Giuliani!
What’s that? Is he available? Not long ago, he was reeling in six figures for a single speech. Two weeks ago, he couldn’t entice a hundred people out to hear him talk for free in Florida.
Of course he’s available.
Sure, he’s got that security consulting biz but like a lot of New Yorkers -- including the people he expected to vote for him in Florida -- he has to be looking for more fun and sun. The Big Apple has soured on him, so he needs a fresh crowd to hobnob with, and to a New Yorker, the only hob that’s conceivably nobbier is Hollywood.
What would Rudy bring to L.A.?
He’s deliciously mean. Maybe Villaraigosa can deliver the political shiv with the best of them, but even when Giuliani smiles, he scares me. In L.A., where traffic flow is the yardstick of a leader’s success, Giuliani will make us behave. If the sign says, “No parking 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.,” the Scourge of Squeegee Men, the Avenging Angel of Times Square will tow your illegally parked car and ticket your butt. Not just here and there, not just now and then, but all over town, and every day. The same goes for red-light runners and other scofflaws.
This has many advantages. One is that it will make shed-loads of money for a city on its uppers. The other is that it would make law-abiders out of habitual lawbreakers. The police chief has gotten a grip on the felonies with the “broken windows” theory -- traffic zero-tolerance is the broken windows theory for the lesser assaults on L.A.'s daily life and livability.
With an ex-New Yorker in charge, the legions of other ex-New Yorkers here might pay more attention to the city they live in rather than the city they left. Some couldn’t tell you the name of their L.A. City Council member or find City Hall without MapQuest -- but they remember their borough president from 30 years ago, when they lived in that SoHo walk-up. Mayor Rudy would engage them with L.A. and get all those acidulous political juices flowing again. And if he’d issue a proclamation forgiving the Dodgers for abandoning Brooklyn, he could entice fellow Big Apple expats to Chavez Ravine.
His amusing jealous feud with ex-NYPD Chief Bill Bratton might be renewed. But it could be short-lived. Bratton, who has made himself part of the civic fabric here in a way many of his predecessors didn’t, might be on that plane to D.C. with Villaraigosa. As he told Playboy, “In terms of Homeland Security and the FBI, those are very significant positions. And when the president of the United States knocks on the door, you certainly have to respond to the knock and give it consideration.” Pity, though. It’s harder to find a good police chief than a good mayor, and we’d miss the fireworks redux.
Giuliani loves a fight as much as many L.A. politicos try to dodge one. He’d be the guy with the bullhorn at the MacArthur Park May Day melee. He’d pick fights with Cardinal Roger Mahony. He’d find something at LACMA he’d want taken off the walls. He banned news conferences and protests on the steps of New York’s City Hall. I’d love to see him try that here. Nothing revs up activism like telling people they can’t do something.
Giuliani could unite L.A. Earthquakes do too, but maybe we wouldn’t have to go that far. The local TV news wouldn’t have to depend on poor Britney Spears for video drama -- not with the Giulianis in town. They’ll cut ribbons and pose with huge cardboard checks and swan along the red carpet at the Oscars even if ethics rules make them pay for their own tickets. Someone once said of Teddy Roosevelt that he wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the corpse at every funeral. Ditto Rudy and Judy.
The big theater of L.A. would be irresistible to Giuliani; I’m just afraid the little things would send him scurrying back East. I can just hear him griping about how terrible the knishes are -- when what he’s eating are empanadas.