The most recent debate between our Democratic hopefuls featured the Left Wing (Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren), the Centrist Wing (Joe Biden and Amy Kloubucher), the Irrelevant Wing (Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer)…and Pete Buttigieg.
For reasons that we’ll get into later, Buttigieg is a challenge to write about. We can start on the surface with biographical details, though, in order to set that part of the conversation up. And for starters I think we can all appreciate the man’s education (Harvard, Rhodes Scholar, Oxford) and the fact that he served with distinction in the armed forces without wearing those particular credentials on his sleeve.
Tulsi Gabbard, for example, can’t seem to go for five minutes without mentioning her own service. It gets tiring sometimes and you kind of wonder if she has any other qualifications for being the president (answer: no).
Pete’s experience in government is twofold having worked with several congressional campaigns and serving as mayor for a mid-sized city. By virtue of his work for other politicians he does have a support network out there in the realm of politics. As for his service as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, I would have to render a split decision.
We have never had a president go from a mayorship directly to the Oval Office. The three presidents we have had who were once mayors — Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland and Calvin Coolidge — aren’t on anybody’s “favorite president list” and I’m betting the only reason you’ve ever heard on Andrew Johnson is because he was impeached. Seems to be a lot of that going around lately.
And I will add that, on the international stage, we do have some former mayors serving as heads of state now in Mexico, England, Argentina and Turkey. If you follow international news I think you would agree that those boys are doing some bang-up jobs over there. (That, for those of you who do not follow international news, is my attempt at using sarcasm as a comedic ploy).
But in this day and age — and in the divisive world of American politics — I think experience as a mayor could be viewed positively.
Think about it. On a daily basis a mayor has to interface with other officials on the local, state and sometimes federal levels. Then he gets to go home and have his dinner interrupted by the crazy old coot who wants to talk about the fact that the garbage men make too much noise. Democracy is a 24-hour-a-day headache for our mayors.
When you’re president you can evidently use the IRS or foreign intelligence agencies to silence your critics.
Our mayor has no such remedy. (Now you can score one for the use of irony as a comedic ploy). I would rather be the president than be the mayor — but I have to qualify that remark by saying that I’d rather play piano in a whorehouse than be the president.
But there’s one thing, one personal little thing, about Pete Buttigieg that generally comes up about two seconds into any serious discussion about his presidential prospects.
I know many conservative types are into that whole “shoot the messenger” thing but in case you haven’t heard — and in the interests of honest journalism‚ here it is: Pete Buttigieg is gay.
I understand the Republican reaction to this. “Homosexual,” after all, is a multi-syllable word and it’s easy for those people to focus on that dirty middle syllable without thinking about what being a homosexual really means.
But in all honesty I would ask you to weigh what you have “heard” about homosexuals against what you “know” or even “think that you know” about them.
For example, I know a few homosexual men and women but the topic of their sexual orientation hardly ever comes up.
It is not interesting to me or relevant to any of our interactions.
However, by spending a few minutes watching the news or thumbing through social media posts I will “hear” more about homosexuals than I “know,” if you follow me, and most of that will be misinformation spread by parties who know less than they say.
It’s sort of like the “telephone game” that other columnist was blathering about a few weeks ago.
One thing’s for certain — the introduction of a gay candidate will re-unite the evangelical right behind Trump.
That is a portion of his base which was recently divided by an op-ed piece that appeared in “Christianity Today.”
Beyond that it would be up to him to sell us on the idea. A daunting task, but it would be a rare display of integrity in the dirty world of politics.
For us, however, to objectively evaluate his campaign we must first examine our own prejudices.