Eric Garcetti Wins His Prize, But Dark Clouds Gather
[guest post by JVW]
Eric Garcetti, a foolish nabob, inartful liar, and sad nonentity of a mayor for Los Angeles lo these past nine years, finally made it through a vote which allows him to keep the flame of his political ambition lit, if only barely:
Former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was finally confirmed by a split vote in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, March 15, to serve as the United States ambassador to India, 20 months after being nominated by President Joe Biden.
Garcetti, who was confirmed in a 52-42 roll call, was nominated in July 2021, but his nomination languished for months in the Senate as some speculated that he knew, or should have known, about allegations of assault and sexual harassment committed by a former top aide to the then-mayor.
Victory for Garcetti, 52, was far from a sure thing. With several Democratic defections arising on Wednesday morning, Garcetti’s fate rested with allying with Republicans in the deeply divided Senate. He secured seven GOP votes to advance the nomination to a final vote.
For the record, the Republican Senators who voted to confirm were Cassidy (LA), Collins (ME), Daines (MT), Graham (SC), Hagerty (TN), Marshall (KS), and Young (IN). Independent Senators King (ME), Sanders (VT), and Sienema (AZ) all voted in favor of the nomination. Senators who did not cast a vote were Barrasso (R-WY), Booker (D-NJ), Cruz (R-TX), Feinstein (D-CA), Fetterman (D-PA), and McConnell (R-KY). Three Democrats, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Maizie Hirono of Hawaii, and Mark Kelly of Arizona, voted against confirming Mr. Garcetti. We’ll come back to them in a moment.
As we have discussed before, there was one brief moment in 2017 — back when dispirited Democrats were wondering how they could have lost to Donald Trump and who would become the party’s standard-bearer — when it seemed plausible that Mayor Garcetti could be the heir to the Obama movement, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that at the time he had barely finished his first term as mayor. But a spate of controversies surrounding city hall, which didn’t directly involve the mayor but helped advance the perception of a city and county government which was ineffective and corrupt, helped to undermine his support. At the same time, a general lack of progress on any of the important issues facing Angelenos — homelessness, urban decay, transportation, an unfriendly business climate — left a lot of locals with a sense that this mayor was something of a dud.
But what really hurt Eric Garcetti and nearly cancelled his ticket to New Delhi was the revelation that one of his closest aides had repeatedly sexually harassed staff, journalists, even police security while serving in the administration, and that the mayor himself may have known about this behavior yet failed to act:
An investigation requested by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, last year concluded that it was “more probable than not” that Jacobs “sexually harassed multiple individuals and made racist comments towards others.” It also found it “extremely unlikely” that Garcetti was unaware of the behavior, saying that “by all accounts, Mayor Garcetti is very involved in the day-to-day operation of his office.”
The White House called the report a partisan smear.
Nevertheless, intense lobbying on the part of Mayor Garcetti and his supporters managed to sway the seven Republican Senators to support the nomination. Credit, such that it is, should also be given to the Biden Administration who patiently waited out the full 20 months, even resubmitting the Garcetti nomination once it expired, rather than moving on to another candidate. The Administration lashed out at the confirmation delay, complaining that India was too important of an ally to have the ambassadorship vacant for two years, but perhaps they could have thought of that before nominating someone so controversial with the decision falling to an evenly-divided Senate. Most of the seven Republicans who ended up voting for the new ambassador cited the prolonged vacancy and India’s strategic importance in Asia as the reason for their approval.
Even though Eric Garcetti is “back in the game” and now has a political job available for at least the next couple of years (he is said to be interested in running to succeed Gavin Newsom in 2026), this vote exposed some problems that he might face in future attempts at executive office. Sen. Hirono, echoing the Grassley Report, attributed her “no” vote to “information that was given to me in confidence, but very credible.” Now in the age of Christine Blasey Ford we shouldn’t put a whole lot of stock into confidential allegations, but given that this is an intra-party skirmish, we can expect this information to leak at some point when Ambassador Garcetti once again moves back to electoral politics.
So rather than a lean and hungry “young” (in Washington these days, everyone under 80 is a kid) lion heading to India to wow the locals and burnish his resume for a future run at executive office, we’re seeing a badly wounded deer limping away to rest and heal his wounds and hope that he returns to a much more favorable climate. As I wrote more than three years ago, Eric Garcetti’s biggest handicap is going to be that he accomplished very little in nine years at the helm of Los Angeles, and he simply doesn’t have the charisma or reputation to run on personality alone.
This vote by Democrats (and seven Republicans), by the way, should be rightly seen as another nail in the MeToo coffin. But as we’ve discussed in the past, the movement was never meant to trip up ambitious young Democrats.JVW (54cbf1) — 3/16/2023 @ 2:59 pm
These last three are all out sick.
McConnell will be back in a day or two. The vote may have taken place because all Senators were not needed. How disabled is Feinstein?Sammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 3/16/2023 @ 3:06 pm
The moment he is offered a sinecure job at some social-left think tank he’ll be resigning if a flash.Kevin M (1ea396) — 3/16/2023 @ 3:39 pm
The vote may have taken place because all Senators were not needed
52 is 52.Kevin M (1ea396) — 3/16/2023 @ 3:39 pm
I wonder why the administration didn’t just move on to their next candidate rather than sticking with someone who has sleaze stuck to him. Additionally, how will India view someone like Garcetti being their ambassador? It almost seems insulting. Surely they know that we are not sending them our best.Dana (1225fc) — 3/16/2023 @ 3:47 pm
I wonder why the administration didn’t just move on
Someone must owe Garcetti something big.Kevin M (1ea396) — 3/16/2023 @ 3:54 pm
McConnell will be back in a day or two. The vote may have taken place because all Senators were not needed.
The interesting guy is Booker, who is apparently one of Garcetti’s few friends in Washington (they allegedly go way back, because of course they do). One of the articles I linked to (I think the one in the Dog Trainer) says that Booker was lobbying his colleagues to vote for Garcetti from an Amtrak train somewhere. It just seems odd to me that if the two of them truly were friends that Booker couldn’t prioritize being in Washington for the vote.JVW (611e27) — 3/16/2023 @ 3:57 pm
Someone must owe Garcetti something big.
Garcetti likely pulled some strings to save Hunter Biden from arrest when he was on one of his hooker and crack binges out here a few years back.JVW (a47429) — 3/16/2023 @ 3:58 pm
@5. ‘Surely they know that we are not sending them our best.’
The list is a mixed bag:
https://www.wikiwand.com/en/US_Ambassador_to_IndiaDCSCA (286451) — 3/16/2023 @ 4:46 pm
This sort of thing makes you wonder if the US takes itself very seriously. I’m guessing there are people in England who’re astonished that this is the empire that replaced them.frosty (8f5d70) — 3/16/2023 @ 5:10 pm
The list is a mixed bag:
Fun discursion: When Bill Weld left the governor’s office in Massachusetts, after losing a close race to John Kerry in the 1996 Massachusetts Senate race, President Clinton in one of those insincere bipartisan moments he was famous for nominated him to serve as ambassador to Mexico. The Foreign Relations Committee Chair at the time was Jesse Helms, who disliked Weld because Weld’s wife (a Democrat) had donated money to Helms’s recent opponent. So Helms blocked Weld, saying that he thought Weld was too soft on drugs to serve in a drug-running nation like Mexico (the more things change. . .).
In any case, Clinton apparently offered Weld the ambassadorship to India, and Helms had privately agreed to let that vote proceed. But Weld turned it down, likely because he didn’t think it was an important enough posting for him to burnish his foreign policy chops as we waited to run for President. Of course it was less than two years later that India and Pakistan had another of their major skirmishes, and with both of them nuclear armed by then Weld would have set himself up very nicely had he been able to get both sides to cease hostilities. Who knows, maybe he would have been a serious candidate in 2000 had he gone to New Delhi three years earlier.JVW (08ac24) — 3/16/2023 @ 5:46 pm
@11. Currying favors, eh? [Ugh. Sorry, couldn’t resist.]DCSCA (2c39e6) — 3/16/2023 @ 5:53 pm
Here’s another thought: chatter is that Garcetti has his sights on the governorship of California after Newsom is termed out in 2027, and it would really negatively impact his those political goals if he couldn’t even get himself voted in as ambassador. Which then makes me think the goods must be really significant.Dana (1225fc) — 3/16/2023 @ 8:37 pm
Which then makes me think the goods must be really significant.
There’s pretty much no way that the goods won’t leak, is there? I’m sure Grassley’s staff knows all about them, and I would guess that in addition to Sen. Hirono, Mark Kelly and his staff know the details too. Given that Kelly and Garcetti are allegedly adversaries, I’m sure Kelly would love to be the one who keeps Garcetti from moving to Sacramento with a well-timed whisper to an important and ambitious reporter.JVW (fdec45) — 3/16/2023 @ 10:48 pm
How often does a former ambassador do anything politically interesting after they get back?Nic (896fdf) — 3/16/2023 @ 11:11 pm
@15 joe wilson did some interesting things when he got back from Niger. Garcetti is an establishment corporate stooge and biden will need all the running dogs he can get if he runs. Glad to see republicans doing something besides banning rosa parks from history books.asset (6d5d3f) — 3/16/2023 @ 11:43 pm
How often does a former ambassador do anything politically interesting after they get back?
Well, George H. W. Bush did alright for himself. But you are right that recent history hasn’t given us too many examples of ambassadorships being springboards to success. Yet poor Eric Garcetti literally had no other options. Both Senate seats are taken, and even Garcetti probably knows there’s no chance he wins Dianne Feinstein’s seat when she retires. House seats were just filled. Newsom just began his second term. And for whatever reason, Garcetti couldn’t score a cabinet job in the Biden Administration (probably because they feel he would be as much of an empty suit as Petey Buttigieg has turned out to be). So he’s stuck in the Far East for the time being.JVW (275cf1) — 3/17/2023 @ 12:03 am
How often does a former ambassador do anything politically interesting after they get back?
Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg was Ambassador to Japan for four years… and after ‘getting back,’ is now the U.S. Ambassador to Australia. Pappy Bush did okay, as JVW notes– there’s some other notables on this list; Franklin, Jefferson, Shirley Temple Black, etc.,….
But given the global communications systems we have now, the diplomatic elements of the gig, though well meant, seem increasing arcane in this day and age and more a patronage gig– or a punishment.DCSCA (4a29d1) — 3/17/2023 @ 3:45 am
@JVW@17 I think he’s basically at a political dead-end because of the sexual harassment scandal and this is his only option. Liberals aren’t going to vote for him for governor because of the scandal and obv. republicans aren’t going to vote for him.Nic (896fdf) — 3/17/2023 @ 3:26 pm
Nabob as in “In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H Club — the ‘hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.’” I see Garcetti through the lens of the second alliteration because he is indeed or in deed one of the most “hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history”steveg (14797c) — 3/18/2023 @ 10:35 am
I’m guessing if the media dug into Garcetti’s confirmation and his families full court press they’d find a “Varsity Blues” type scandal. Some money got spread around. Garcetti’s family hired lobbyists and lobbyists spread money and gifts around. That said, some of the votes in favor were always going to be from men and women who believe a President is entitled to choose whomever he/she pleases, warts and all. Some may even believe the wartier, the better to paint the President as a fool; although in this case that has been redundant for quite some time now.steveg (14797c) — 3/18/2023 @ 10:45 am