Look: About six weeks ago (gah! Time flies during election campaigns), I briefly took a shine to Pete Buttigieg, about two weeks before the big Pete surge, which is about when a lot of our own readers were like, “Why is this dude suddenly getting all the attention, and why won’t the media stop talking about him?” Well, you know what I always say: Media overexposure is the best disinfectant. Since then, he’s appeared on all the late-night shows, all the morning shows, he’s done his seven-language party trick numerous times, and he’s managed to say a whole lot of nothing. In fact, there was a piece on McSweeney’s called “A Rough Transcript of Every Interview with Pete Buttigieg” that was a pretty great summation of Mayor Pete’s candidacy, so far:
Is it true that you speak Norwegian? Ja, I am evasive in seven different languages.
How do you plan to tackle income inequality?
If I may, I’d like to speak to that very specific issue with a few glittering generalities.
Freedom. Democracy. Bridges.
Care to elaborate?
Optimism. Honesty. A child’s lemonade stand.
You have my vote.
I know. If this piece were any fluffier, it’d have a thread count.
I mean, look: It’s a long campaign. Most of the candidates are going to have a few days in the sun. It’s a good thing because, during the course of those few days in the sun, we find out a lot about those particular candidates.
In fact, six weeks ago, when I was really feeling Mayor Pete, I bought a Mayor Pete T-shirt. It finally arrived yesterday. I hadn’t even washed it yet before Mayor Pete went and said this:
We asked all of the 2020 candidates about vaccines.— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) May 1, 2019
A spokesperson for Mayor Pete Buttigieg says Buttigieg supports "personal/religious exemptions if states can maintain local herd immunity and there is no public health crisis” https://t.co/o1tVmFb5UW pic.twitter.com/ahWJq0hkhL
DAMNIT. Seth got his T-shirt two days ago. He said that he’s already tossed his into the Goodwill pile.
The initial appeal of Mayor Pete was that he was a young, intellectual gay man who could appeal to faith-based voters and that he was a viable progressive candidate. At this point, I’m beginning to doubt both his viability (his poll bounce has subsided) and his progressivism. I don’t think he’s a closet Republican like so many others, but we really don’t need another Biden. We have a Biden already. Also, the nod to anti-vaxxers is a total dealbreaker. To his credit, at least, he seemed to walk back that statement afterward, releasing this statement:
“There is no evidence that vaccines are unsafe, and [Mayor Pete] believes children should be immunized to protect their health. He is aware that in most states the law provides for some kinds of exemptions. He believes only medical exemptions should be allowed.”
Still, Mayor Pete gets a huge stink eye for the both-siderism of that original statement. You know who else gets a big stink eye? Beto, who did himself no favors by answering the same question thusly: “I know just about as much as any parent. All three of my kids are vaccinated … I know that this is an issue that some people have a difference of opinion on. I’m not as informed as I should be to give you a thoughtful answer.”
It’s really not a hard question, Beto, and as the parent of three children, it is a question that maybe you should definitely be informed about. The guy stood up on stage and delivered a five-minute sermon about Colin Kaepernick, but he can’t answer a simple question about whether all kids should be vaccinated?
For the record, all the other Democratic candidates who answered the question seemed to be fairly emphatic about the need for vaccinations.
While I’m on the subject of Mayor Pete, and while this has nothing to do with anything, I hate that Boy Scout haircut. Whew. That felt good to say.