April 03, 2019

Dems 2020: Pete Buttigieg; what should we call him? —
Beto Lite? Pale Rider Obama? Neoliberal wet dream?
McKinsey-churian Candidate?

I hadn't planned on doing a profile of the South Bend mayor, Pete Buttigieg, either before he announced or afterward. He seemed like way too much of a vanity candidate.

Then, with a $7 million early fundraising haul, I realized that ... people with dinero were taking him at least halfway seriously. And, so too, it seems, are other Very Serious People, like a few Beltway stenos seeing his tech-neoliberal "disrupting," a few people at national neoliberal Democrat-affiliated think tanks, etc. Shit, David Brooks wants to make him an honorary Bobo, it seems.

He's got domestic neoliberalism smeared all over him from his years at McKinsey, the government consulting firm that tells governments to privatize everything while paying consultancies like McKinsey big bucks, and that they'll become leaner, meaner, more efficient, and other bullshits. That's called "disrupting" by the cool kids at Politico and Silicon Valley. And, for the war hawks in the Democrat party, he's got patriotism stamped on his forehead by not just serving in the military but also serving in military intelligence. That's about as bad a strike as working for McKinsey.

(As someone who has done actual journalism work, not a Beltway steno, I know the kind of work McKinsey does for cities and other local governments. And, I know what they charge for that.)

But, but, he has a splendiferous time as South Bend mayor, doesn't he?

Well, if you're white and interested in gentrification, yes. If you're black, while he's not all wrong, he's not all right while remaining all white. (Yes, more puns may come in this piece.)

There's a BIG black-white gap in income, assets, etc., in South Bend, with its small but growing Hispanic community almost entirely mirroring the black side of that gap. Lots of details here. And, that Wikipedia link (not that Wikipedia is perfect; it still refuses to create a page about Poppy Bush's mistress), comments a little about some of this.

And, let's not forget him firing South Bend's black police chief, Darryl Boykins, shortly after he became mayor, over allegations he'd been taping officers who'd been making racist comments about him. "Mayor Pete" claims that the US District Attorney's office said he had to, or Buttigieg would come up on charges for violating federal wiretap laws. As the NYT now reports, Boykins layers said that's untrue, and that he talked to someone he knew in the US DA's office to confirm that it doesn't operate that way.

There's also dispute as to whether the white officers actually made racist comments or not. In lawsuit settlements by them with the city, they claim they did not. A communications commander, fired shortly after Boykins, said they did.

Now, this gap existed before "Mayor Pete." Question is, how much has he done to ameliorate it?

From what I've seen and read, not a lot.

But, since he's officially come out of the president-declaring woodwork, it's gotten worse.

I have "Beto Lite" in line two of the header because that's pretty much like it seems. He's even lighter on substance than Robert Francis Beto O'Rourke, but, as I've found on Twitter, he's got his own set of Beto-like groupies. (The first I hit also likes Pretty Boy Trudeau north of the border, who actually might be a damned good comp to Buttigieg. And, contra said Twitterer, that's not a compliment to either.)

And shit, he even tries to sound like Dear Leader:
Don't believe me that he's spread thinner than a bedsheet hung out to dry in a Panhandle norther?

Nathan Robinson of Current Affairs has 10,000 words or so about that and more.

Let's start with more snark. Robinson notes that Mayor Pete's "Shortest Way Home" has been called the best political bio since Obama's by some of those Very Serious People. Being compared to Dear Leader, like to Pretty Boy Trudeau, is also not a compliment in my book.

Let's get to a mix of snark and serious from Robinson:
I don’t trust former McKinsey consultants. I don’t trust military intelligence officers. And I don’t trust the type of people likely to appear on “40 under 40” lists, the valedictorian-to-Harvard-to-Rhodes-Scholarship types who populate the American elite. I don’t trust people who get flattering reams of newspaper profiles and are pitched as the Next Big Thing That You Must Pay Attention To, and I don’t trust wunderkinds who become successful too early. Why? Because I am somewhat cynical about the United States meritocracy. Few people amass these kind of  résumés if they are the type to openly challenge authority. Noam Chomsky says that the factors predicting success in our “meritocracy” are a “combination of greed, cynicism, obsequiousness and subordination, lack of curiosity and independence of mind, [and] self-serving disregard for others.” So when journalists see “Harvard” and think “impressive,” I see it and think “uh-oh.”
I think I'd very much agree with all of that.

Meanwhile, Pretty Boy Pete's Twitter suck-up? Said it was BAD to quote Chomsky like that. No, really. He's blocked me 12 hours later, so I can't embed his tweet, just my response.

Well, no, TweetDeck is letting me quote him as parent response:
What a goof.

Throw in Jacobin, talking about Dems "meritocratic cult of smartness" being objectified by Very Serious People in the person of Buttigieg.

And, of course, it's not so meritocratic. Both his parents were profs at Notre Dame.

And, at Jacobin, Liza Featherstone notes that backers of minority and women candidates have objected to the "smartest in the class" claims, and rightly so.

And, there, we have the question of: Is Mayor Pete enabled by white privilege?

He's been asked that already, and gone for straight for his own identity politics answer: Try being gay.

Yep, he pretty much went straight there.

Gack and gag.

And, per Jacobin, he's not afraid to let you know that he's smarter than the average neoliberal bear:
Yeah, as Mike Gravel said in his retweet, an ego, even for a politician.
Under the precautionary principle, I've given him a tag, just in case he becomes a breakout darling.

As far as his explicit identity politics appeal? He's as bland as white bread, and he's generally as conservative outside politics (Episcopalian who hates contemporary worship styles) as he is a ConservaDem inside.

Or as a NON-neoliberal fellow white gay man said, Mayor Pete might just be "the devil." The part that sounds VERY insightful but that I'll have to take on trust is that Buttigieg being a closeted gay as a teen inside a white-bread family meant he has a very delayed adolescence, noting that "Mary Pete was never a teenager." (I also learned from Dale Peck that "Mary Pete" is the gay word for a gay "Uncle Tom.")

I would disagree with Peck that all of Buttigieg's naivete is real. Peck notes that a lot of it from Obama was a pose; I don't think that's as much the case with Buttigieg but I do think it's partially so.)


Let's put it another way, if Mayor Pete wants to play the SJW card. If he weren't gay, he probably wouldn't be running and nobody would give a fuck about him in such case even if he did run.


And, speaking of ConservaDem, he's also a Zionist apologist Israeli suck-up, per Mondoweiss. Per comments there, he's also gone after Ilhan Omar. Kick his ass to the curb!

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