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Wired's Pete Buttigieg Hagiography
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The mainstream media loves Democrats, with journalists of the liberal persuasion often happily serving as handmaidens of the Democratic Party and churning out puff-piece propaganda. Pretty sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
But an article on Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg published today by Wired is so over-the-top and fawning that it just might be one of the most obsequious public profiles ever written. It’s a veritable exercise in journalistic fellatio, so much so that it could easily be mistaken for satire were it not for the fact that the author is one Virginia Heffernan, a Harvard PhD who once wrote an infamous Los Angeles Times piece about her deeply enraged reaction to having her driveway plowed for free, after a massive snowstorm, by her Trump-supporting neighbors.
“Sure, the US secretary of transportation has thoughts on building bridges,” Heffernan writes in the subtitle of her Buttigieg hagiography. “But infrastructure occupies just a sliver of his voluminous mind. Other mental facilities, no kidding, are apportioned to the Iliad, Puritan historiography, and Knausgaard’s Spring—though not in the original Norwegian (slacker).”
We are then told that Buttigieg is compelled to hold much of his intellectual powers “in reserve” because a “cabinet job requires only a modest portion of his cognitive powers.”
Even as he discusses railroads and airlines, down to the pointillist data that is his current stock-in-trade, the US secretary of transportation comes off like a Mensa black card holder who might have a secret Go habit or a three-second Rubik’s Cube solution or a knack for supplying, off the top of his head, the day of the week for a random date in 1404, along with a non-condescending history of the Julian and Gregorian calendars.
Fortunately for Heffernan, the transportation secretary “was willing to devote yet another apse in his cathedral mind to making his ideas about three mighty themes—neoliberalism, masculinity, and Christianity — intelligible” to her, allowing her to pen this gauzy, hypersycophantic piece illustrated with artsy photography about a minor government functionary.
Amazingly, the interview includes almost no questions about transportation. Nor does it mention any of the controversial issues that have defined Buttigieg’s time as transportation secretary — including supply-chain problems, en masse flight delays and cancellations, and his handling of February’s toxic train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio — or the fact that it has never been more expensive to purchase a car, or how the commuting public is supposed to be moving to electric vehicles when electricity prices are lingering close to a two-decade high.
Indeed, the starting assumption of the profile is that there’s no legitimate criticism of the transportation secretary from the right, that it all stems from opposing “greater enfranchisement of undesirables, including, of course, women, poor people, Black people, and the usual demons in the sights of the world’s Ted Cruzes and Tucker Carlsons” and “the renunciation of democracy, modernity, civil rights, human rights.”
Instead, we’re treated to America’s most over-promoted consultant’s thoughts on his faith, masculinity, and how the US military sometimes “comes under attack from the far right.”
At one point, during the masculinity digression, Buttigieg bizarrely volunteers his preferred burger choice.
“A lot of this discussion about masculinity doesn’t have anything to do with the immediate function that’s at stake,” he says. “I’m thinking about burgers, right? I love a good cheeseburger. I hate a bad veggie burger. I like a good veggie burger. The Burger King Impossible Whopper with bacon is not a bad combo.”
Buttigieg then goes on to argue the US has a chance to rewrite gender tropes, including that electric vehicles are less masculine than regular cars.
“My life happens to cut across them,” he says. “I like drinking beer, lifting weights, splitting wood. I’m also gay and I like playing piano. I do a lot of the caregiving for our toddlers and other things that supposedly aren’t masculine.”
The rest of the article is much the same, with Buttigieg rhapsodizing about pseudo-intellectual drivel and Heffernan lamenting the “terrible violence, destruction, and bloodshed” of Jan. 6th (because of course). It’s a parody-defying example of a liberal journalist groveling before a mediocre Democratic politician, engaging in a degree of fawning that even ChatGPT would never stoop to. One is left wondering how much the Buttigieg camp paid for this excessive puff piece.
Buttigieg, who is white but makes up for it by being gay, is young for the office he holds and looks like the adult version of the kind of kid who always gets destroyed in a game of dodge ball. He’s also terrible at his job. Even someone who closely follows politics would struggle to name another Secretary of Transportation, because if they’re doing their job then there’s no reason to ever hear about them.
But we hear about Buttigieg a lot—not because he’s a “remarkable blend of intellect and empathy,” but because he’s arguably the worst Secretary of Transportation we’ve ever had, one that famously harvested a couple of babies from surrogates then went on “paternity leave” in the middle of the worst supply chain crisis in history, which was a significant contributor to our runaway inflation. Further fiascoes have arisen on Buttigieg’s watch, to the point where Alexi McCammond and Josh Kraushaar of Axios can write that “historic transportation crises haunt Buttigieg.”
Let’s not forget that Buttigieg’s pre-cabinet career is laughable. His legacy as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, the only elected office he’s held, amounted to the fact that he couldn’t fix the potholes. He was put in charge of transport for the world’s largest economy because he’s gay and likes planes, trains, and automobiles, not because he was qualified. He had no specialized experience relevant to the transportation industry. As Sen. Tom Cotton put it, “Pete Buttigieg couldn’t organize a one-car funeral.”
The Democratic Party thought the job would be perfect for Buttigieg’s political prospects in 2024/2028, allowing him to travel around the country and appear before crowds in key states while elevating his name recognition and overall brand. Instead, it’s been a disaster.
As Secretary of Transportation he’s done little more than fuss over problematic acronyms and launch a $1 billion pilot “to build racial equity in America’s roads,” flying on private government jets to soccer matches in Europe and posting cringe-level midnight pictures of himself in his Navy uniform on Instagram in the meantime. Being out of his depth, Buttigieg has had to leave the serious work to others. In the rail-freight strike, for example, the Biden administration chose Labor secretary Marty Walsh as its point man, while Buttigieg was doing public appearances at the Detroit Auto Show, starring on late-night talk shows, and pushing Democratic talking points about inflation, climate, and race.
But we don’t hear about any of this in Virginia Heffernan’s paean to Buttigieg. Nada. I tell you what: I’d like to buy Buttigieg for what he’s worth and sell him for what Heffernan thinks he’d bring. Anyone who reads the article and who’s being honest with themselves knows it reveals the essential hollowness of Pete Buttigieg, and that all the talk of his “stunning intellect” is meant to distract from his incompetence as Secretary of Transportation.