Travels of Ace Smith

Well, this story certainly got my attention when it was linked by LA Observed today.  It’s all about a San Francisco political operative with the dubious distinction of being known as “the best (opposition) research guy on either side of the aisle.”  

(Ace) Smith, 48, surprised California political veterans by jumping from the role of top political researcher to the role of campaign manager during Antonio Villaraigosa‘s successful 2005 run for mayor of Los Angeles against then-incumbent James Hahn.

Villaraigosa credits Smith with making the “biggest difference” in the campaign’s message in what became a landslide victory.

Hmm.  If you read a little further in the story, you find out what that “biggest difference” really amounted to.  

I will quote two words spoken by Tom Hanks’ character in “Saving Private Ryan”Earn this.  It better have been worth it.  I don’t want to hear about any more “setbacks” in education reform, especially not if I have to read about it in a prison cell.  No, I need to see a full-on Los Angeles renaissance.  Anything less and I have a right to be pissed.  

Elsewhere in the story, there’s a heartwarming yarn about why Smith decided to specialize in “opposition research.”

Smith’s education in politics began at the knee of his father, former San Francisco District Attorney Arlo Smith. He eventually gravitated toward unearthing devastating political information because the task allowed him to work for campaigns but be at home with his family — wife Laura Talmus, a community and political fundraiser, and children Abram and Lili, now 15 and 13.

You can imagine how happy that makes me feel.   Smith’s life is a perfect combination of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” and “Thank You for Smoking.”  In fact, what a great idea for a new reality show. 

The point of the SF Chronicle story was that Smith is bringing his “devastating” talents to help the presidential campaign of Hilary Rodham Clinton.  Perfect.  

I’m re-reading The Great Gatsby.  I’m not at the end yet, but I know I’ll eventually come across this famous quote:

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”

It’s not precisely applicable.  You really can’t say Ace Smith and his candidate made “a mess.”  They won.


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