In commenting on the supply chain crisis the other day, Joe Biden said:
I want to thank my Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, which we set up in June, led by Secretaries Buttigieg, Raimondo, and Vilsack, and by my Director of National Economic Council, Brian Deese. I want to thank them for their leadership. . . .
But yesterday, we learned that Buttigieg has been on paternity leave since mid-August. (Did Biden know this?) If Buttigieg is “leading,” he’s leading from home while trying to take care of two newborn babies.
Paternity leave is a fine thing. And maybe more than the usual amount of it is beneficial when the couple in question does not include a woman.
But I can’t imagine a serious public official taking two months of paternity leave, and counting — reportedly, Buttigieg plans to stay out for a while longer. And doing so when you’ve been assigned to deal with a major domestic crisis demonstrates a callous disregard for your duties.
No one seriously believes that if Buttigieg were not on paternity leave, the supply chain situation would be materially better. But that’s not the point. It’s Buttigieg’s job to devote his undeflected attention to coping with this crisis. It’s his duty to put the nation’s interests ahead of his personal ones.
The course of the war in Afghanistan very likely would have been the same if Defense Secretary Mattis had taken a few months off in 2017. It might be the case that the financial crisis of 2008 would have played out the same way if Treasury Secretary Poulsen had been on leave in the midst of it.
Still, it’s unthinkable that either Cabinet member would have stayed home for weeks for any reason short of debilitating illness (their own). These, after all, are serious, dedicated men.
Pete Buttigieg is something else.