Charlie Beck, chief of the LAPD for the last eight years, has announced his intent to retire in June, when he turns 65. And now all the people who will seek to replace him, along with their retinues of toadies, lackeys, and hangers-on, will soon set to the task of elevating their own status while tearing down the competition. The long knives are being unsheathed for the coming frenzy of backstabbing and bloodletting.

Beck’s retirement announcement was greeted in predictable fashion, with various interest groups calling for a member of this or that ethnic group or gender to succeed Beck. The Los Angeles Times of course raised identity politics, speculating Jan. 19 on “whether the department should be led by an insider or an outsider, someone who will keep the department on the same path or radically change its course, or someone who reflects the diversity of Los Angeles — perhaps a Latino, or an Asian American.” Tellingly, no one quoted in the story expressed a desire to appoint the most qualified candidate.

Most qualified? That’s so 20th century. It won’t be a factor in naming the next chief. The eventual selectee will have triumphed through some combination of the right ethnic and gender profile and an ability to survive the knife fight about to begin. What fun it will be to watch.

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