Pete Buttigieg’s presidential candidacy interested me for a few days. Then, I realized that he’s just another hack liberal politician.
I reached that conclusion based mainly on Buttigieg’s treatment of Mike Pence. When Pence was governor of Indiana, his relations with Mayor Pete of South Bend, were excellent by all credible accounts. Pence’s religious-based view of homosexuality had zero impact on his dealings with Buttigieg. He wanted Buttigieg to succeed in governing South Bend and he behaved accordingly.
However, Buttigieg thought it would help his run for president to pick a fight with Pence. The Vice President didn’t take the bait, but Buttigieg blasted away nonetheless, and in demagogic terms.
This was good politics and within the norms of how politicians behave. However, it dispelled any thought that Buttigieg was a different kind of pol.
Now, Buttigieg is in trouble due to the fatal shooting by a South Bend police officer of a black man. Buttigieg was in a no-win position as soon as it emerged that the black man attacked the police officer with a knife. There was no video evidence of this because the officer hadn’t turned on his body camera. However, the wounds supplied ample evidence of the attack.
The existence of wounds precluded Buttigieg from embracing fully the narrative that the shooting was the unjustified result of racism. But only such a position was going to satisfy South Bend’s black activists and their followers.
Failure to satisfy these activists was bound to harm Buttigieg’s presidential campaign. In order to remain even a second-tier candidate, he needs to expand his support beyond gays and young voters who like the idea of a smart, young, gay president.
Buttigieg never had a realistic hope of adding black voters to that coalition. However, the perception that South Bend’s blacks don’t trust or respect him threatens to kill his hopes of adding support from any quarter and perhaps of retaining all of his current support.
Buttigieg responded to the crisis by holding the obligatory meeting with members of the black community. Predictably, these members were out for blood. On the facts of the case, Buttigieg could not serve it up to their satisfaction. The best he could do was to opine that “all police work and all of American life takes place in the shadow of racism, which hurts everyone and everything it touches.”
It is true, I think, that Buttigieg (or a different candidate) could have done a better job of connecting on an emotional level with the blacks who attended the meeting. But the meeting was destined to go badly under the circumstances.
Buttigieg’s claim that all police work takes place in the shadow of racism, though not enough to satisfy the black community, has angered South Bend’s police force. And rightfully so.
The statement is absurd. Most police work is completely unconnected to racism. Is the cop at the corner directing traffic operating in the shadow of racism? Is the black cop investigating violence against blacks operating in the shadow of racism? Of course not.
Democratic primary voters won’t mind that Buttigieg has incurred the displeasure of South Bend’s police force. But the fact that he’s under fire from both sides contributes to the perception that he’s not fit, or not ready, to be president.
The perception may be unfair (or at least not justified on the basis of the police shooting case), but so were Buttigieg’s attacks on Mike Pence.