Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Pete Buttigieg Seems Nice


On Sunday, writing for the Washington Post, Bob Moser profiled a candidate who's not really a candidate, South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, asking, Could Pete Buttigieg Become the First Millennial President?. Moser could have asked-- as Frank Bruni once did, enthusiastically-- if he could be the first gay president. The Constitution stipulates you have to be at least 35 to serve as president. Pete turned 37 on Saturday. He became mayor of South Bend, Indiana at 29. His name is difficult to pronounce. It's BOO'-tah-juhj but you probably won't need to remember it... at least not for 2020. His case is that voters want fresh faces. Even if that were the case, there's Beto (first EMO/skateboarder president), Tulsi (first Hawaiian/Hindu president), Julian (first Latino president) and Eric Swalwell (first MSNBC-created president). Johnson and Moser are enthusiastic about their subject. They wrote that "'normal' and 'regular' are not adjectives that apply to the son of a Maltese immigrant father and an Army brat mom who grew up in decaying South Bend, got himself into Harvard, summer-interned for Ted Kennedy, worked for John Kerry’s presidential campaign, won a Rhodes Scholarship, learned Arabic in Tunisia, landed a jet-setting consultant’s job, left it to return to his beat-up hometown and become the youngest mayor of a midsize U.S. city, transformed that city into a national model of renewal, and then-- deep breath-- volunteered for active duty in Afghanistan while serving as mayor, came out as gay in the local newspaper, married a schoolteacher live on YouTube, turned heads in a dark-horse bid to lead the Democratic National Committee, and had the New York Times’ Frank Bruni gushing about him as potentially the 'First Gay President'-- all by age 36... [H]e'll be running as the herald of a new generation."

South Bend is St Joseph's county seat, a Democratic city and Democratic county in a Republican state. Last year Trumpist-Republican Mike Braun ousted Democrat Joe Donnelly in the Indiana Senate race 51.0-45.1%. But St Joseph County was one the 9 Donnelly won (out of Indiana's 92). The final result in the county was 53,758 (57.6%) to 36,456 (39.1%). In the IN-02 congressional race, incumbent Republican Jackie Walorski won by almost 10 points but she lost St Joseph County in a rout. Back in 2016 Bernie won the primary against Hillary 52.8-47.2%, The general was a dead heat with Hillary edging Trump in that county-- one of only 4 she won statewide-- 47.7% to 47.5%. Ask anyone who isn't a deranged Hillary dead-ender in South Bend; they tell you Bernie would have beaten Trump hands down. On the same ballot where Hillary scraped by 0.2%, Democrat John Gregg beat Republican Eric Holcomb in the gubernatorial race, 52.5-44.4%. By the way, the "herald of a new generation" didn't endorse Bernie in the 2016 primary.
Millennials became the country’s largest voting-age cohort in 2018, displacing baby boomers-- and their politics break sharply with their parents’ and grandparents’. (Opinions vary as to where the millennial generation technically begins and ends, but the Pew Research Center defines it as those born between 1981 and 1996. Buttigieg was born in 1982.) This group not only leans heavily Democratic, but emphatically leftward. Of course, they overwhelmingly tell pollsters, gay people should be able to marry. Of course black and brown people have been shortchanged throughout history and continue to be. Of course immigrants do nothing but make the country stronger. Of course the government owes every citizen decent health care. And of course climate change is humanity’s greatest peril.

“The center of gravity of the American people is way to the left of the center of gravity of Congress and, in many ways, to the left of the national Democratic Party,” Buttigieg had told me earlier in the year. That’s especially true of millennials. Their political outlook is shaped by being the first post-World War II generation to face diminished economic prospects, and also the first to fully experience the diminished quality of life wrought by decades of tax-slashing, privatization and deregulation: inefficient social services, unaffordable child care, crummy roads and trains and public transportation, slow Internet speeds, and a rapidly warming Earth. Buttigieg’s peers are eager to embrace a politics that’s bigger and more ambitious-- more New Deal than New Democrat. They want swing-for-the-fences solutions from politicians who don’t pretend that all the country needs is just some minor tweaks.

“Donald Trump got elected because, in his twisted way, he pointed out the huge troubles in our economy and our democracy,” Buttigieg says. “At least he didn’t go around saying that America was already great, like Hillary did.”

The mistake Democrats risk making in 2020, he says, is looking in the rearview mirror for solutions. “I get the urge people will have after Trump. ‘Look at the chaos and the exhaustion: Wouldn’t it be better to go back to something more stable with somebody we know?’ But there’s no going back to a pre-Trump universe. We can’t be saying the system will be fine again just like it was. Because that’s not true; it wasn’t fine. Not if we could careen into this kind of politics.”
Total burn on Biden and his Warren G. Harding "back to normalcy" campaign! But Moser found him coming off "like a combination Boy Scout and lovable dork" rather than a political hitman. "As a senior and student-government officer in high school," they wrote, 'he won the 2000 JFK Profile in Courage Essay Contest, earning a trip to Boston for the annual ceremony. His subject was as millennial as it gets: Bernie Sanders."
“Candidates have discovered that it’s easier to be elected by not offending anyone rather than by impressing the voters,” he wrote. “Politicians are rushing for the center, careful not to stick their necks out on issues. Most Democrats shy away from the word ‘liberal’ like a horrid accusation.” But not the man from Vermont. “Sanders’ courage is evident in the first word he uses to describe himself: ‘Socialist.’”

Reading his paean to Bernie, it’s clear that young Buttigieg already had a streak of ambition and opportunism to match his idealism. “I have heard that no sensible young person today would want to give his or her life to public service,” the senior-class president and valedictorian of St. Joseph High concluded. “I can personally assure you this is untrue.” And it paid off: At the award ceremony in Boston, Ted Kennedy offered him a summer internship on the spot. That first wide-eyed taste of Washington after his freshman year at Harvard set him on the path that could soon, improbably enough, have him facing off against the once-obscure socialist congressman who struck him, 18 years ago, as both immensely admirable and impossibly old.

The departure of the Clintons kind of uncorks a new energy,” Buttigieg is saying as we rattle up the interstate. “It’s an exciting time to be a Democrat. The party has to figure out what it means now.”

He’d endorsed Hillary Clinton after her nomination in 2016, as any aspiring party leader must, but he clearly won’t be writing any laudatory essays about her campaign. “I organized a Union Hall event for her in South Bend,” he says, and shakes his head. “You could just tell the enthusiasm wasn’t there.” The problem, he says, was partly that the stakes seemed too low. “We need a bigger scope of ambition for people to rally around.” A return to the Clinton and Obama style of centrist incrementalism, he says, will invite disaster just as surely in 2020. “Change is something we need to face with clear eyes. It’s scary, but it’s also exciting.”

He paints his potential presidential campaign as a kind of blown-up version of his first run for mayor. Buttigieg announced his 2011 campaign two weeks after Newsweek featured South Bend as one of “America’s Dying Cities.” People had been promised a return of manufacturing jobs for almost half a century, Buttigieg says-- “a little like Trump in coal country.” From 1902 to 1963, the city was the home of carmaker Studebaker, which employed nearly 25,000 local workers at its peak, before going belly-up. The city never recovered. When he was growing up, “a lot of people would still talk about the closure like it happened yesterday,” he says. “When I ran, we had to paint a picture of the future that did not translate into nostalgia.”

He points with particular pride to the massive infrastructure projects he undertook: refashioning the old, decaying Studebaker building into a hub for small “creative industries” like tech start-ups, and pledging that “1,000 homes in 1,000 days” would either be razed or refurbished to rid neighborhoods of the crumbling vestiges of the past. “The word ‘again’ was not part of our vision,” he says. “The message from the start was, ‘The Studebaker plant isn’t coming back, but we are, and here’s how.’”

Buttigieg knew that if he could make good on his audacious promises, he could also make a name for himself-- which he quickly proceeded to do, beating the 1,000-day target and spiffing up the old plant over the harrumphs of the city council veterans and longtime government officials who couldn’t help resenting the technocratic kid from the fancy schools and the global consultancy.

...Though Buttigieg prefers to label himself-- if he must label himself-- a “progressive Democrat,” he can deliver a spontaneous dissertation on why young Americans say they prefer socialism to capitalism that would do Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proud... His 2020 message will be centered on a clean break with the Lite Republicanism that Democrats once embraced.

Not much on the specifics of that though but presumably, like all the candidates running as progressives, he'll pick the parts of Bernie's and Elizabeth Warren's platforms he likes and cobble something together. Moser found his "coy about his plans for the future. But on Dec. 20, three days after announcing that he wouldn’t run for a third term in South Bend, he spoke at the annual Progress Iowa holiday party in Des Moines-- signaling his intentions to political observers. In January, he hired Marcus Switzer, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 deputy finance director. And in February, following the release of his book, Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future, Buttigieg plans to strike out across the country on what will likely amount to an exploratory campaign for the presidency. He knows that the effort might add up to nothing more than one more instance of winning by losing-- raising his profile for whatever else might lie ahead. But he’s calculating that the whole bundle of 'firsts' he represents will make him stand out from the pack of senior citizens-- Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bloomberg, Sanders-- and the football-team’s worth of middle-aged members of Congress harboring White House dreams. When Moser mentioned that the day before, Biden, on his own book tour, had proclaimed himself "the most qualified person in the country to be president," Buttigieg laughed. "So was Hillary," he says.

UPDATE: Exploratory Committee Today

Mayor Pete released this video today-- this morning-- especially for the LGBTQ community. He'll be the first openly gay elected official running for president:

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At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ultimately self repudiating.

First: "He’d endorsed Hillary Clinton after her nomination in 2016, as any aspiring party leader must"

says it all about why the democraps are forever lost. Someone you admire for his innovatively courageous approach is playing by the same corrupt casino rules as the Clintons, obamanation and the blue/news. And Bernie. And Elizabeth. And AOC, though she endorsed Pelosi instead of a Clinton.

then you admit: " In January, he hired Marcus Switzer, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 deputy finance director."

need I say more?

A fresh face, new hybrid approach... yet he endorsed $hillbillary and hired her DFD.

I know another boilerplate democrap opportunist with ambition when I see one. bill Clinton. obamanation. $hillbillary. biden. they're all the same. they'll try to lie a little better than the predecessors who **ALL** failed spectacularly, but underneath it all, they're all the same. What did someone call Clinton once... Pander Bear??

No thanks. I'll pass.

At 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Pete Buttigieg Seems Nice"

DWT, the title of this post says much more about YOU and what you stand for, then it does about Buttigieg.


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