Monday, March 05, 2018

Who Is This Peter Navarro Person?

I have the misfortune of knowing Peter Navarro. It was a quarter century ago, I was a leader of the San Diego chapter of the Sierra Club and Navarro was an economics professor in Orange County with dreams of political power. He saw in San Diego's vibrant environmental movement a possible tool for his delusions of grandeur.

Peter formed his own organization, PLAN!, ostensibly to fight rampant urbanization but really as an ego tool to promote himself.

I found myself working on a couple initiative campaigns with him. Peter was rude, crude, more interested in throwing bombs than making a reasoned case. He was Trumpian before that was a thing. We lost the first campaign in no small part due to his toxic participation.

We both served on the fundraising committee for the second campaign. The initiative was written by Sierra Club lawyers, it was so solid not even the building industry opposed it. Peter used his position on the committee to pretend to raise money for the campaign but he directed the cash to his personal organization. We won but Navarro's backstabbing has starved the campaign for funds and had we even a tepid opposition the initiative would have failed.

Peter then struck out on his own with a third initiative that was to be his launching pad for a campaign for mayor of San Diego. The initiative was badly written with dodads included for every progressive cause from labor to environmentalism. Unfortunately for Peter, the law requires initiatives to be single issue and Peter's was an over decorated Christmas tree.

Republicans took it to court over the labor provisions. Peter offered to cut them out even though labor had provided the signature gathering manpower. The judge ruled, rightly, that he couldn't rewrite an initiative after the signatures had been gathered and tossed the initiative.

No matter, Navarro ran for mayor of San Diego in 1992 against Republican career politician Susan Golding. Peter started out with a big lead but squandered it through his general ineptitude. Still, the race was neck and neck before the final debate.

Golding calmly goaded him into an unhinged tirade that doomed his chances. Peter lost. Peter lost three more times, for the county Board of Supervisors, Congress, and the San Diego City Council. Then Peter wrote an unpublishable book blaming everybody he ever met for the losses.

Peter didn't want political power for what he could do for people but what he could do to people.

To Peter there are two types of people in the world, people who worship him and people who should be destroyed. I remember his unrestrained glee when my mentor in the Sierra Club, Emily Durbin, died. She didn't worship at the alter of Navarro, instead she worked selflessly to protect the environment. I still have a lingering hatred for Peter for that alone.

Peter Now
Peter is supposed to be a China trade hawk but his steel tariffs will have no effect on China (they send the US almost no steel) but it will start a bitter trade war with our friend and neighbor, Canada.

This is completely within his long time habits - ignore the actual important issues and instead inflict the maximum pain on the maximum number of people. For nearly 30 years Peter has sought power and now, finally, he has it. He has the power to prove his superiority by crushing those he feels are beneath him. He feels everybody is beneath him.

Peter wants his trade wars. He wants war with Canada and Europe and Mexico because he thinks they are weaker than China and he can damage them more than he could hurt China.

It's who Peter is, a bomb throwing anarchist.

1 comment:

Thom Morris said...

I know this is an old post, but I'm compelled to comment. Thanks for the reminders of what Peter Navarro is. I liked to think of him as right about some things, (China's IP violations, Obama's pro-environmental initiatives) but you remind me that he's only on board with anything if it serves Peter, not before and not after. That clears up why he toes the line for this President. He knows better than what he's saying, he's not stupid (in the traditional sense) but he'll say what he thinks will edify Peter and he's often wrong about that.