VIRGINIA POSTREL: A California Coup? Gavin Newsom Has a Problem on His Hands.
After nearly a year under some of the nation’s — indeed, the world’s — toughest Covid-19 restrictions, Californians are increasingly frustrated. With little sympathy from elected officials, they’ve endured mass layoffs, wrecked businesses and lost schooling. They’ve even lost their Disneyland annual passes. Yet the virus has still devastated the state.
Now they’re taking out their frustrations on Governor Gavin Newsom, who for many epitomizes governmental high-handedness and dysfunction. It doesn’t help that the governor suffers from what could be called resting smug face. Or that he comes from San Francisco, which exemplifies the combination of scary vagrants, general disorder and sky-high housing prices that makes Californians wonder how their state got so broken. (Not to mention the school district is against George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.) . . .
Democratic officials are trying to stigmatize the recall movement as a collection of dangerous kooks. “This recall effort, which really ought to be called ‘the California coup,’ is being led by right-wing conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, anti-vaxxers and groups who encourage violence on our democratic institutions,” state party chair Rusty Hicks said in a January press conference. A few days later, the Los Angeles Times expanded his talking point into a major article titled “Far-right movements including QAnon, virus skeptics linked to Newsom recall.” . . .
The discontent isn’t just coming from Republicans or Trump supporters. Newsom’s numbers are on the skids among people who used to like him. Two recent polls show a significant decline. Among likely voters, the Public Policy Institute of California found a slight majority of 52% giving the governor a favorable rating — a drop from over 60% in the early days of the pandemic. . . .
Three specific offenses seem to catalyze the change. The most infamous was the birthday dinner with lobbyists at the upscale French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley, held even as Newsom was telling Californians not to have family gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Faulconer was among the critics who immediately pounced on the governor’s inconsistencies, tweeting that “He can celebrate birthday parties. But you can’t.”
That was in November. By then discontent with Newsom had already been growing for months, probably beginning in July when he announced that schools wouldn’t reopen. As the reality of another year of homeschooling dawned on California parents, many blamed the governor for not working to reopen schools. Interest-group politics, not science, seemed to be driving policy.
On Thursday night, after a Democratic lawmaker let slip to The New York Post that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-N.Y.) aide confessed to having lied about COVID-19 nursing home death data — as PJ Media’s Matt Margolis reported — Fox News meteorologist Janice Dean, who lost her in-laws in nursing homes from COVID-19, argued that every governor who forced nursing homes to admit COVID-19-positive patients should “go to jail.”
The justifiably outraged Dean summed up the horrific story well.
“We knew the numbers were much bigger than the governor was admitting. So over 15,000 residents died from getting COVID in their nursing homes. They just admitted that they put over 9,000 infected patients into nursing homes. And now the biggest bombshell coming from The New York Post that his secretary, Mellisa DeRosa, admitted that they covered it all up,” she explained.
Fox News host Mark Steyn noted the hypocrisy of governors like Cuomo locking down normal business in their states but “the people who were most vulnerable Andrew Cuomo failed to protect on an horrific scale.”
A White House official tried to quash a story about his relationship with a reporter by issuing threats and using derogatory language to another reporter pursuing it, according to two sources familiar with the incident. In a sympathetic profile Monday, People revealed that White House deputy press secretary TJ Ducklo is dating Axios political reporter Alexi McCammond, who covered the Joe Biden campaign. But behind the scenes, Ducklo had previously lashed out at Politico reporter Tara Palmeri, who was reporting the story, exhibiting behavior that led to tense meetings between the Washington news outlet’s editors and senior White House officials.
The confrontation began on Inauguration Day, January 20, after Palmeri, a coauthor of Politico’s Playbook, contacted McCammond for comment while one of her male colleagues left a message for Ducklo, according to sources. Ducklo subsequently called a Playbook editor to object to the story, but was told to call the Playbook reporters with his concerns. But instead of calling the male reporter who initially contacted him, Ducklo tried to intimidate Palmeri by phone in an effort to kill the story. “I will destroy you,” Ducklo told her, according to sources, adding that he would ruin her reputation if she published it.
During the off-the-record call, Ducklo made derogatory and misogynistic comments, accusing Palmeri of only reporting on his relationship—which, due to the ethics questions that factor into the relationship between a journalist and White House official, falls under the purview of her reporting beat—because she was “jealous” that an unidentified man in the past had “wanted to fuck” McCammond “and not you.” Ducklo also accused Palmeri of being “jealous” of his relationship with McCammond. (Palmeri had no prior relationship or communication with McCammond before calling her to report on the Playbook item, which was a story that she was assigned and had not independently pursued.)
Flashback: Biden promises appointees he will fire them ‘on the spot’ if they disrespect others. The clock is ticking, Joe!
UPDATE: So much for “fire them ‘on the spot:’” Top Biden aide suspended with pay for one week after allegation by journalist of sexual harassment, threats.