The Pete Principle

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home.

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32 Responses

  1. pillsy says:

    Great summary. I like Buttigieg a lot, but also have some serious doubts about his campaign, and this article sums up both.

    I also am, I have to say, a bit leery (OK, hundreds of kilobytes leery) of the idea of the Mayor of South Bend going straight to the white house.

    PS: a lot of people complain about “cancel culture” on the Left, but the continued visibility of Erick Erickson shows that there are also real problems caused by a lack of cancel culture on the Right.Report

  2. Aaron David says:

    We seem to be watching a series of events weakly similar to the rise of Obama. Obama was lightning in a bottle, as Jaybird put it, and the left/media want desperately to recreate that. But much like the scene in Groundhogs day, the one were Murry attempts desperately to recreate the night before in the hope of landing McDowell’s character. Each turn they take furthers the distance to achieve that dream.

    This is why we are seeing puff pieces on every single candidate that rolls off the assembly line. In each case the get glamor photography, comparisons to Dem hero’s and primetime ad space, er bio pieces. And they inevitably crash and burn. Beto, Warren, Gillibrand, Klubacher, watching them all fall of the map while the two whom the D’s desperately don’t want to represent them rise in the polls. Biden and Sanders are too old, too white and too male for how the party is positioning itself these days.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

      I think that “boring” will be a selling point for whomever goes up against Trump. We shouldn’t undersell the temptations of returning back to a place where we don’t care if the democrats and republicans are arguing over whether the tax rate ought to be N% or N+.5%.

      Sure, the Republicans will still be evil, but they’ll be Romney Evil and not Trump Evil.

      Don’t you want to go back to that?Report

      • Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

        Pandora. Her box done been opened.

        Would I love that? Sure, for certain values of love. But what Trump has really done is torn the wallpaper off of some moldy and stained walls. What with the media going full Russia, the college admission scandal, #MeToo, Virginia and on and on. Those things aren’t related to Trump directly, but many people feel that his presence, and the D reaction to it*, has brought those things into the sunlight.

        The more I think about things, the more I come to the conclusion that the D’s are acting way too much like the R’s post-Reagan. In that they wanted something so bad, and were so close, that they were OK with pushing a whole lotta things, things that up until that moment were solid planks of the party, off of the table.

        So, yes, I would love that. But I also would love to stop balding.

        *You know that scene in The Thing, where they test to blood with a hot wire? Its kinda been like that.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Aaron David says:

          For what it’s worth, I don’t think that the Dems will know how to push for “boring” in the nomination.

          I just think that “boring” would win the election. (But “less boring than Trump” should not automatically be assumed to mean “boring”. As Pillsy points out, it’s easy to be a less boring than Trump.)Report

      • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

        I think it’s too soon to tell.

        I mean, it’s hard not to be more boring than Trump, but a lot of the ones we’ve got are non-boring and the boring ones seem to be struggling to get attention.

        I don’t think Buttigieg is one of the boring ones FWIW.

        Bernie and Biden, despite being old as hell and white guys, will both be, ah, a little on the exciting side I think.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

          Eh, on the spectrum, I think that Buttigeig is likely to be boring in the way that mayors are boring. A good, solid governance-based executive type.

          I see his campaign as “vote for me for Congress/Senate” rather than running for Prez. (Maybe he’s running for VP, I dunno.)

          Pity that he’s, like, 12…

          But you’re right. It’s waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too soon to tell.Report

          • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

            He’s from Indiana.

            VP is the typical next step for Indiana pols who don’t see anywhere else to go.Report

          • Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

            I don’t understand the “running for VP” claim. I generally disagree with it, but this cycle especially. We can all imagine situations where 3000 supporters could propel a Democratic candidate into the presidency in 2021. Any candidate who thinks he could persuade people has got to consider himself a viable candidate.

            I mean. if I play one of those record-breaking lotteries, am I playing for 5 matches and $12 million? If I got it, sure, I’d take it, but I’m playing for 6 matches and the $1 billion. I’ve got as much of a chance as anyone. Virtually zero, but the same chance. If Buttigieg gets only a political boost out of running, whether that be increased name recognition or a higher office, he wouldn’t turn it down. But since his strategy is identical whether he’s playing to win or to show, what’s the point of guessing a single motive behind his campaign?Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Pinky says:

              Eh. Mike Gravel is running (I caucused for him in 2008!) and he argued that he’s not running in order to win, but running in order to change the debate.

              In years past, when I identified as Libertarian, I argued that the goals of the Libertarian candidate were not to win the presidency, but to change the frame and the overton window. Make the candidates disagree on Legalized Pot. Make the candidates disagree on Gay Marriage! Change the debate!

              I see half of the guys running for the nomination as “you’ve gotta be kidding me” kinda aspirants… unless I see them as being ideological-types who are hoping to change the debate.

              Buttigeig is the mayor of South Bend. He’s 12 years old. While I appreciate the whole “hey, and maybe the horse will learn to sing” possibility (and I know he appreciates it), I see him as having a long list of goals and “Prez” ain’t the main one. It might be the one-in-a-million shot… but his goals are a handful of other things. (Not shameful things, not bad things, not unworthy things.)

              And, yeah, one of them probably might be VP.

              Might put Indiana in play.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Jaybird says:

                Let me ask this: has anyone in the modern (post-Watergate) era ever attained the vice-presidency by running a presidential campaign? You’ve got Bush Sr. in 1980, and Al Gore arguably made his case for the VP slot in 1992 by running for president in 1988, although he had name recognition before the presidential campaign. Both of those candidates had reasonable chances of winning in their presidential years, so I wouldn’t say that either of them was running for VP.

                So, if the term means “running to increase your political profile”, I can understand it a little better. Still, the expression “running for VP” implies a motivation that isn’t obvious, and nothing good comes from guessing political motives. Further, it implies lack of credibility as a presidential candidate, and should we be so confident in our ability to guess the eventual winners?Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Pinky says:

                In one sense you are correct; he’s interviewing for the office of President. Should he win, he will be president.

                Should he not secure the nomination, the act of interviewing will have alerted various constituencies with positions to bestow that he is available and willing to interview.

                I agree that it is pre-emptively dismissive to say that someone is “only” running to be VP, but not necessarily dismissive to say that running is an experience that might lead to a higher office… somewhere, some how. That’s kinda how you do politics – esp. at a National scale.Report

              • Some candidates are no doubt running for Cabinet positions. For candidates from the West, the logical slots are Energy and Interior (Interior being almost always filled with someone from the West since the 1950s). I’m not sure which position a mayor from Indiana might be angling for.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Michael Cain says:

                Bracket Czar.

                That’s cabinet level, isn’t it?Report

    • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

      Housing, NIBYism, and gentrification are, I believe, the actual fracture point in the Dem coalition we really have to worry about, and probably one that’s more, rather than less, serious as we pick up more of the affluent suburban professionals that the GOP is shedding.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

        I suspect, though I don’t know, that the NIMBY/Gentrification fans are more likely to donate to politicians than the Affordable Housing For Affordable People crowd (who, I suspect, rely on being on the Right Side Of History).Report

        • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

          I think it’s really to soon for me to say.

          The role gentrification plays in the debate is kind of hard to predict.Report

          • North in reply to pillsy says:

            It’s definitely too soon to say. That stipulated I don’t think this will work as a Pete sinking issue. NIMBY’s don’t really like being out front in the spot light and the overarching issue isn’t very clear cut with an obvious good guy or bad guy so I have an inkling that this issue just won’t catch fire regarding a national campaign.
            Besides, Pete needs something to last him through to the actual elections and the media is gonna move on pretty soon. I like him and his background but I don’t know if he’ll be able to last. Then again he made a bunch of dough so he probably is assured financial wherewithal to get to Iowa at least.Report

  3. Marchmaine says:

    Mayor Pete is an interesting one.

    “Religious? He’s a Christian. Atheist? He’s not weird about it. Wary of Washington? He’s from flyover country. Horrified by flyover country? He has degrees from Harvard and Oxford. [etc, etc]”

    And by interesting, I don’t mean interesting but that he has a good story. We elect presidents as symbols, we elect them for their story, nowadays, the narrative. Mayor Pete has a potentially good narrative around which broad-ish support could coalesce.

    The comparison to Obama isn’t quite that he has that certain Obama charisma, but that as a symbol he’s worth rallying around. And, despite the awesome power of the president to wage war, we don’t really elect presidents based on their Foreign Policy chops or even their policy proposals… but rather, the symbols of the issues we (or some subset/plurality) face (or think we face).

    Whether the Left decides Mayor Pete is that symbol, I can’t say… or whether Mayor Pete survives scrutiny as such a symbol (@jaybird’s linked article could derail the story), or whether Mayor Pete is capable of executing the day-to-day requirements of building the symbolic narrative… all that remains to be seen.

    But as the raw material, he has it more than most… it isn”t about being boring (Warren) or charismatic (Beto) its about being a vessel of projection.

    Or so it seems to me in our fledgling 21st century experiment with mass democracy.Report

  4. pillsy says:

    So the questions about Buttigieg’s management style are coming in hot and heavy.

    In this one, people are criticizing him for focusing too much on easily measurable outcomes, overlooking the problems created in areas that weren’t being measured.

    This is a legitimate criticism, and I will need to read the article more carefully to decide how serious it is. Honestly, I’m sort of gabberflasted that a Presidential campaign (or even primary run) is actually raising subtle and interesting questions.

    Usually it’s all, “Did this candidate properly consume a corn dog at the Iowa State Fair?” or, “Does the candidate’s position on gun control go too far, or not too far enough?”

    [1] I mean, am I really taking this guy seriously enough that I think it’s important to evaluate a guy’s performance as mayor of a city of 100 000 people to decide whether he should be nominated for President? Isn’t that a sign that things have already gone completely off the rails?Report

  5. Jaybird says:

    Fellow members of the Booty Jury, we’ve got this info right here:

    It’s a problem similar to why Clinton won and Bernie didn’t back in 2015/2016.Report