Make California Great Again: Newsom says train thefts made California 'look like a Third World country'

A lot of people are dunking on California’s Gov. Newsom over this clip and it’s not hard to see why. Earlier this week you probably saw video of the huge mess left by package thieves in Lincoln Heights, a neighborhood just east of downtown LA. The thieves have been breaking into rail cars as they slow and sometimes stop to approach the rail yard ahead. The thieves break into the cars, pull out the packages and take anything of value, leaving the tracks covered in empty boxes and whatever mail they didn’t want.

The story got a lot of coverage locally, enough apparently that Gov. Newsom decided he need to be seen doing something about it. So today he was out there helping workers clean up the mess and also talking about what a bad look it is for the state he runs. “It looked like a Third World country,” he told reporters.

Newsom is, understandably, taking a lot of heat, largely for suggesting that he was shocked by what he saw in the video above. By all accounts, this sort of thing has been going on for months. Frankly, it feels to me there’s almost always something like this going on in LA, whether it’s on the train tracks or just huge piles of rat-infested garbage in the middle of the street. The idea that anyone in a leadership position is surprised by it at this point is pretty hard to believe.

This next one made me laugh.

Anyway, you get the idea. Lots of people pointing out that if things are a mess, Newsom really has no one else to blame.

But of course this is all theater. Newsom isn’t there because this couldn’t get done without his help. In fact, there really are a bunch of people who are more directly to blame for this than the Governor. This is happening in Los Angeles. Where is the mayor? The actual site is policed by a special unit of rail police funded by Union Pacific. As I pointed out here, UP blamed this chaos pretty specifically on the policies enacted by progressive DA George Gascon. They sent him a letter about it a month ago, before the story went viral.

My point isn’t that Newsom isn’t responsible. As the top executive, the buck stops with him. But if you’re blaming Newsom for this, you’re really skipping over a lot of other people who are closer to the problem and arguably deserve a lot more of the blame for this particular problem.

Anyway, setting that aside, Newsom is there to get photographed doing something and, while it’s performative and silly in a way, I have to say I think it’s likely to work for him. Last year during the recall, Newsom did a similar stunt when he went out to help clean up some homeless camps. That was all for show too but at the time it seemed to me he’d miscalibrated. Dressed in black jeans with his hair slicked back, he looked like a rich guy pretending to do work for the camera. But today the addition of the baseball cap was more convincing. Watch this again with the sound off so you don’t have to hear him whining about Fox News. Maybe you’ll see what I mean.

Yes, he’s still the same unctuous used-car-salesman-of-a-governor underneath, but with the ball cap on he almost looks like a regular human being. If you flipped on the TV and didn’t know who he was you might guess truck driver instead of what his usual look suggests…mob lawyer.

I don’t think Newsom would ever admit it but he’s taking a page from Donald Trump. That cap may not say “Make California Great Again” on it but that’s basically the message. His statement about it looking like a Third World country isn’t quite a chant of “law and order” but again, that’s the message he’s conveying.

I’m sure he went home, took a long hot shower and slipped into his $1,000 Gucci loafers, but I think people are mistaken if the assume this sort of thing can’t work for him. Sometimes all it takes to not look like an out of touch rich guy is the right hat. It worked pretty well for Trump and it could work for Newsom too.

Here’s a local news story about Newsom’s visit.