When President Trump pointed out the resemblance between Pete Buttigieg and Alfred E. Neuman, I laughed out loud. I could easily see the face of the broadly smiling, wholesome-looking presidential candidate on the cover of MAD Magazine with the words “WHAT, ME WORRY?”
But after I saw his New Hampshire townhall, shown on FOX News Sunday night, I decided that he is the sort of person who smiles as he deliberately picks fights. He has friendly eyes and wears cozy pullover sweaters, but he is a bully. His MAD Magazine caption should read, “WHAT, ME BULLY?”
Buttigieg is an extremely self-aware, practiced communicator –- I guess the modern word is “messager” –- so he knows exactly what he is doing, but it’s easy for another professional communicator (at least me, and also Laura Ingraham, as you’ll see below) to see through him. He knows his audience and just how to appeal to them. In fact, I predict that when he is no longer in the race, he’ll be working behind the scenes, helping whoever becomes the nominee to win in November of 2020. If that person does win –- God forbid –- Buttigieg will likely be in the White House after all, though probably as an advisor or in the communications department rather than the Oval Office.
Buttigieg picked a fight recently with Vice President Mike Pence to try to cause discord over Pence’s socially conservative views, as Buttigieg is gay. It didn’t matter that Pence had been nothing but respectful to him, even praised him. Pence stayed on the high road. Then, during the townhall Sunday night, the candidate slammed Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham by name and mischaracterized their views on immigration, even though they were not there to respond. He’s similarly baited President Trump with extremely personal digs, once calling him “basically a disgraced game show host.” Obviously, he’s decided that this strategy is how he’s going to win points with leftists in his party and get attention from the media.
Laura Ingraham had a few choice words to say on her show Monday night about Buttigieg. As she noted, he usually “glides through interviews, rarely facing tough questions.” (That’s what the townhall seemed like like to me: one softball question after another.) “He was trying to pass off political pablum as some kind of high-minded political oratory,” she observed. Ingraham got it exactly right. I’m sure she also noticed that Buttigieg would be speaking in a very even, tempered way but then lob a completely unfair and inaccurate zinger at someone on the right. Of course, at the townhall, those were the predictable applause lines.
A few months ago, Ingraham called out Buttiegieg for sounding “just as judgmental and sanctimonious as some of the Christians whose faith he was questioning.” She called him “Pope Pete.” I agree completely; perhaps Buttigieg doesn’t realize that after months of trying to stomach the moral superiority of, say, James Comey, we are really sick of that. Especially when he gets all sanctimonious about a woman’s right to kill her child at any point, even through delivery. On the other hand, WE aren’t his audience.
Ingraham NAILED IT with this: “This eager-beaver mayor has perfected the art of mild-mannered extremism. His modulated tone and kind of ‘cool cat’ exterior are designed to make the extreme seem downright pedestrian. It’s all as normal as a Sunday School lesson or hot apple pie.” Bingo.
Buttigieg will earn points with his intended audience for his speaking style, but when it comes down to it, he’s just another leftist, with a strong bullying streak.
I’d also like to offer my personal view of what Buttigieg has said about Thomas Jefferson in the controversy over renaming things meant to honor him. He said on the Hugh Hewitt show, “You know, over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor...Naming something after somebody confers a certain amount of honor.” As an ardent historic preservationist, I disagree with those who want to rename ANYTHING or take down ANY historic monuments. (And hey, Democrats, you might be happy to know that I'm including all the things named for former Klansman and Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd.) We’ve got to remember history and come to terms with it. If you compare Buttigieg’s accomplishments with those of Thomas Jefferson, “Mayor Pete” is not fit to lick Jefferson’s boot, so I think he should just put a sock in it --- his mouth, not the boot.
As Trump rightly said, there are good people on both sides of this issue. And in case you don’t know, he was talking about the controversy over monuments, NOT white supremacy.
Anyway, Pete Buttigieg is a bully. And if I sound strident right now, well, I’m just tired of being bullied by the left.
A postscript: I’m about two-thirds through that Spencer Tracy movie, THE LAST HURRAH, and highly recommend it. Tracy plays the mayor of a large New England city that isn’t identified but is obviously Boston, and he’s running for re-election one last time. His character reminds me a great deal of Donald Trump in that he’s fighting against old-line city leaders –- and the local newspaper publisher –- who viciously hate him and his background and oppose him at every turn, yet he knows what he’s dealing with and (at least so far) figures out how to prevail. Time to go see how it ends!
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