MAILANDER’S LA-Marianne Williamson, author of the bestseller A Course in Miracles and much else, can't get no political respect. But she also seems very aware that she doesn't need any at this age, either.
The new age doyenne's campaign to represent Malibu and points south in Congress, now four months forever young, is tossed the greatest, er, miracle of all: her invincible, invulnerable opponent, Henry Waxman, suddenly announces his retirement from Congress.
And all anyone seems to want to talk about is who else is going to jump in and fill the void:
Wendy Greuel. Zev Yaroslavsky. Betsy Butler. Ted Lieu. Paul Koretz. Debra Bowen. Fran Pavley. Operatives are standing by!
And ... Sandra Fluke?
"Also hearing Sandra Fluke may run to replace Henry Waxman," Westside operative and photographer Marta Evry said on The Twitter.
While the early phases of Williamson's campaign indicated that her attempt to take on one of the nation's most esteemed members of Congress was quixotic at best, the campaign is now demonstrating that it's finding some sea legs.
Williamson's website for Congress released a statement almost immediately. "I congratulate Congressman Waxman for his years of outstanding service in the United States Congress. He has made his mark in areas ranging from public health to the environment to consumer protection, and I join many around the country today in expressing my respect."
And she posted ibid at Facebook. Which was more than other hungry vultures were capable of.
After some putative nods of admiration for Waxman, Councilmember Bill Rosendahl went on AirTalk immediately to promote Ted Lieu, indicating that Lieu had an inside nod from the Waxman crew and was fired up and ready to go. Social media gamers gave love to Lieu too.
"I'm a big fan of Ted. Would love to see him run," John Perez for Controller campaign manager Dante Atkins posted.
State Senator Lieu is the author of a very timely ban on gay-to-straight conversion therapy. Gay has been the new orange in Westside politics since at least the Butler v. Tori Osborne celebrity death-match that accidentally elected Richard Bloom to the State Assembly in 2012.
Yaroslavsky followed Rosendahl, but sounded as though he genuinely hadn't heard the news in advance. "I'm stunned," Zev said. He was evasive as to his own future plans, a role we know him to play very well. But it seems unlikely he'd enter if he didn't enter the Mayor's race after trying to decide for nearly two years whether he might.
Which leaves La Wendy and Betsy Butler to mount a challenge Williamson and perhaps Lieu. And I guess--Fluke.
Meanwhile, Republicans were licking their chops at the prospect of a Democratic free-for-all, a seat that changes hands less than "once a generation" luring the bold and the beautiful to carve enough of each other that a GOP-lite alternative might make sense for the individual ethical egoists who populate the beach cities.
The handling of Waxman's departure has thus far not exactly exuded class. The Times ran a story that was obviously culled from its at-the-ready Waxman obituary.
"During a congressional career that began when Gerald R. Ford was president, Waxman became one of the Democratic Party's most prolific and savvy legislators, focusing on issues related to healthcare and the environment. He played a central role — sometimes over opposition within his own party — in passing laws that dramatically cut air pollution, helped reduce smoking, expanded Medicaid coverage for the poor, reduced pesticides in food, made generic drugs more widely available, helped AIDS patients, promoted the development of drugs for rare diseases and improved federal regulation of nursing homes," the Times' cut-and-pasted obit copy ran.
It omitted any mention of, say, Waxman's blocking the Subway to the Sea in the '80's. Reviewing highs and lows are more typical than straight eulogies when a Congressman calls it quits. But there will be plenty of time to evaluate Waxman properly while he still walks among us.
I'm guessing most purebred political types have never taken Williamson's candidacy very seriously. They can easily see that she is not accepting corporate PAC money, and they're instantly thinking, "Well, that's you're mistake."
But the social media circus generated by Waxman's surprise announcement has run the gamut from rampant succession speculation to crazy talk about Waxman's odd proboscis.
This was not a quiet an organized departure, alas. It brought out the worst in nearly everyone.
Advantage, I think, if for the moment--Williamson, whom the Westside ops would be wise not to underestimate. We have already, in fact, witnessed at least one miracle in this race.
(Joseph Mailander is a writer, an LA observer and a contributor to CityWatch. He is also the author of Days Change at Night: LA's Decade of Decline, 2003-2013. Mailander blogs here.)
Vol 12 Issue 9
Pub: Jan 31, 2014