Technically, Mayor Pete this week dropped below the previously ironclad Pun Salad Threshold for Serious Candidates, a 2% or better probability of winning the White House. But I had all these links saved up…
So that's why we do this stuff programmatically. Change 3 characters in the appropriate script from '2.0' to '1.5' and…
The big WinProb gainer this week: Bernie! Despite, or perhaps because, he's stuck in the Senate listening to the impeachment thing.
And of course, President Trump is number one phony again this week, surviving a major increase in phony hits from Mayor Pete.
Warning: Google result counts are bogus.
So while we still have Mayor Pete to kick around, let's consider
the musical question:
Who Is Pete Buttigieg?
According to Richard North Patterson at the Bulwark:
Beyond a doubt, Pete Buttigieg has a gift for persuasive self-presentation. But that’s the rub. His rare talent as a communicator obscures the remarkable leap of faith Buttigieg demands from the electorate: That the hitherto unknown 37-year-old former mayor of a small Midwestern city has the protean qualities required to rescue America from the abyss.
Central to this conceit is Buttigieg’s vaulting self-description. These fractious times, he tells us, require a leader “who can stand on the rubble of what has been busted in our society and in our politics, pick up the pieces, implement bold solutions, get something done about those issues, and find a way to do it it’s actually going to unify the American people. The good news I’m offering you is that can happen—that will happen—when I’m your president.”
Click through for Pete's (um) changing descriptions of his tenure at the McKinsey consulting firm. When he was running to be Indiana State Treasurer, he tried (in the words of Amy Wank of the WaPo) “to give the impression those three years had been spent trekking the globe to stabilize economies.”
But that's not only reality-challenged, it's not in tune with the Democratic base. They hate all that bottom-line business stuff. So when he's questioned about it these days, he just did a lot of Excel and Powerpoint, and isn't really sure how, or whether, his work affected companies McKinsey consulted with.
The Free Beacon cruelly noted a rhetorical tic:
It's All Personal for Buttigieg.
Of course, Pete's not alone in making things personal. Here's Liz:
The fight for #UniversalChildCare is personal for me. Back when I was a mom with two little kids, finding high-quality, affordable child care was make-it-or-break-it. My plan for #UniversalChildCare is a win for working families and our kids. pic.twitter.com/ENVse00Vnm— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) May 26, 2019
And of course Wheezy Joe:
Health care is personal for me — like it is for so many Americans. That’s why I’ll never stop fighting to ensure everyone has the peace of mind that comes with quality, affordable health care. pic.twitter.com/qxdND2TC3z— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) December 16, 2019
Mayor Mike on his gun-grabbing ambitions? "This issue is somewhat personal for me."
And of course the only thing personal to Donald J. Trump is… Donald J. Trump.
But apparently this meaningless trope goes over well with focus groups comprised of touchy-feely Democrat voters who are impressed with that sort of proclamation.
But back to our main topic this week, Politico's John F.
Mayor Pete: Portrait of the B.S. Artist as a Young Man.
The very traits that usually impress—his fluency in political language; go-getter’s résumé; intense ambition carried in the vessel of a calm, well-mannered persona— are increasingly being greeted with skepticism and even derision. Notably, this is coming from his peers.
“Buttigieg hate is tightly concentrated among the young," a writer at the Atlantic observed. “Why Pete Buttigieg Enrages the Young Left,” read a headline in POLITICO Magazine. “Swing Voter Really Relates to Buttigieg’s Complete Lack of Conviction,” said a headline in The Onion. For months, the satirical site has been vicious toward him in ways that evoke the wisecracking cool kids at the back of the class mocking the preening overachiever in the front row.
The Buttigieg backlash, by my lights, flows from origins that are less ideological than psychological. I noticed it some time ago with some—certainly not all—younger journalistic colleagues in particular. He torques them in ways that seem personal.
They are well-acquainted with the Buttigieg type. They find his patter and polish annoying. They regard his career to date—Harvard, Oxford, McKinsey, the mayoralty—as a facile exercise in box-checking: A Portrait of the Bullshit Artist as a Young Man.
I'm pretty sure the Democrats in my family still are Pete-impressed. But they don't read Pun Salad.
And finally, at National Review, Kyle Smith has kind of
had it with
Buttigieg’s Hollow Military Bragging.
Three things stand out about his brief sojourn in the Navy: One, he joined via direct commission. This, to most veterans, is a jaw-dropper. To say the least, this isn’t the way it’s usually done. Many of us recall the intensive pre-commission training (in my case, four years of ROTC in Connecticut and Advanced Camp with the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg) as the most trying intervals of our careers. Others spent four years at Annapolis or West Point. Buttigieg just skipped all of that. He passed a physical. He signed some papers. Voilà. To put this in terms a liberal might understand: Imagine you heard that someone got a “direct diploma” from Harvard but didn’t actually have to do four years of papers and tests. You’d never forget it. You’d probably think of that person primarily as a short-cut specialist for the rest of your life.
The second thing that stands out is that Buttigieg specifically cited Kerry as a role model. John Kerry! Kerry is a guy who immediately and shamefully turned on his brothers in arms when the political winds turned that way, and became very famous at a very young age because of it. Kerry’s fans insist he’s a war hero, but aspects of his career are cloudy, and Kerry’s stubborn refusal to release his military files ensured that doubts would persist. There is no doubt that Kerry was anti-military when he got out, or that when he joined the Navy he felt something other than a call to duty. He was just a politically ambitious fellow in search of the least-bad option after his educational deferment was denied. “When I signed up for the Swift boats, they had very little to do with the war,” he wrote in 1986, adding, “I didn’t really want to get involved in the war.” No shame in that, but not much to brag about either.
The third thing that stands out about Buttigieg’s military service is his bizarre brag that he used to travel around Afghanistan in various motor vehicles. Has anyone who has ever served the U.S. military on overseas land not driven around? When he launched his campaign last April he bragged about “119 trips I took outside the wire, driving or guarding a vehicle.” That’s . . . not a thing. There are no such stats. Sorties in aircraft are an official military statistic. Motor-vehicle trips are so routine no one would bother to keep track, any more than someone would log how many times Pete Buttigieg took a shower. No one cares. So Buttigieg himself created this phony statistic. Picture it: He made himself a little Hero’s Log but all he had to put in it was “routine trips.” It’s pathetic. It’s hilarious. It’s apple-polishing, résumé-buffing, box-checking, attention-seeking vaporware. Just like his whole career.
Well, it's something. But like his language fluency, it's less than he makes it out to be.