The Amazing Deflatable Buttigieg

A scenario unfolded last week that has become boringly predictable.  Bad guy does bad things.  Good guy with authority shows up to stop him.  Bad guy attacks good guy with weapon.  Good guy shoots bad guy.  Bad guy’s “community” allege good guy is racist.  Craven politician holds town hall meeting.  Craven politician gets shouted down by angry mob.  Craven politician folds like wet paper to angry mob’s demands.  Craven politician appoints special prosecutor to investigate good guy, who determines good guy was justified in shooting the bad guy.  Angry mob insists the “system” is rigged against them.  Bad guy’s kindergarten graduation picture circulates Internet.  Bad guy’s relatives give interview explaining how much bad guy had always dreamed of being an astronaut.  Media salivates all over itself.  Other good guys question the sanity of risking their lives to stop bad guys.  Less good guys volunteer to do so.  Crime increases.  Angry mob blames the “system” for neglecting rising crime.  Meanwhile, another bad guy does bad things.  Good guy with authority shows up to stop him.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Okay, only the first half of this scenario has happened so far, but who wants to bet against the second half playing out as predicted?  In this specific biopunk performance, the role of the craven politician who succumbed to the mob of his own creation was none other than America’s Aww Shucks Mayor, Pete Buttigieg.  In his charming hometown of South Bend, Indiana, a white police officer shot a black car burglar Eric Logan who, ignoring the officer’s verbal instructions to halt, came at him with a knife.  In a move he now certainly regrets, Buttigieg took a break from his presidential campaign to return to South Bend to chaperone a grotesque orgy of racist invective, during which was made evident that his constituents have determined the officer’s guilt solely based on his skin color (as well as Logan’s innocence, for the same reason).  There was zero interest in factual evidence, and even less in the presumption of innocence.  Not one to get hung up on such trivialities, Buttigieg made clear from his more passionate ripostes that his sole interest was placating the mob.  Everyone, it’s all my fault.  I might as well have pulled the trigger myself.  I’ll try to do better.  I’m calling in everyone from DOJ to Scotland Yard to come investigate.  The Stasi?  Yeah, I can call them too.  Your wish is my command, but please just stop yelling at me.  (I paraphrase, but that was basically the gist).  From the opening gambit he allowed the inmates to run the asylum, and with every panicked concession he gave, the circling sharks simply grew more frenzied at the scent of blood.

A town hall event seems unwarranted in South Bend, which is among the top 3% most violent cities in America, and is among the top 30 cities for highest murder rates.  In April, an 11-month-old boy was shot. On the day of the town hall itself, six people were shot.  But to the extent that any of this phased the mob, they didn’t show it.  A black infant takes a bullet, and the city collectively shrugs.  No protests.  No town halls.  But a black criminal is shot by a cop acting in self-defense, and we’re suddenly one city hall coverup away from genocide. 

The town hall had nothing to do with “justice” for a thug who had no qualms about stealing from and attempting to murder other people.  Pete Buttigieg did not fail this man.  The police did not fail this man.  Corporate America did not fail this man.  To the extent that this man was failed by anyone other than himself and his unforced choices, he was failed by his “parents” and his “community” (to use those terms generously).  But it takes hard work and self-reflection, over a period of generations and within the entire culture, to heal these deficiencies.  It is much easier to blame some vague, sinister “system” and take it out on the sniveling mayor who’s willing to sit there and nod reflectively as he’s unmasked as the Grand Cyclops of the South Bend KKK.   

Maybe Buttigieg attended because he honestly cares about his constituents, or maybe it was an ill-considered PR stunt.  Maybe the police officer was justified in the shooting, or maybe he wasn’t.  The only question answered during Buttigieg’s town hall was whether or not a mob can be controlled.  That hypothesis has been tested before by politicians throughout history.  The result has always been consistent, and always will be: don’t try it.  “Revolutionary justice” and mob justice are one and the same -- both require the absence of any legal restraint and the replacement of reason with raw emotion to operate.   When mob justice inevitably fails to solve the problems it originally sets out to rectify, it changes course like a flock of birds.  All revolutions eat their own, and they usually start with their leaders, those once-inspirational ideologues whose “betrayals” and “reactionary” pasts are conveniently unearthed when the lights start going out and blame needs to be laid at the feet of anything except the fanatical ideology from which the mob extracts its wretched ideas.  Robespierre, Trotsky, and Zinoviev all learned this the hard way, and they were much more adept at reading a mob than is Buttigieg.

Pundits predict this incident is the beginning of Buttigieg’s end.  For the moment that seems doubtful.  During the 2016 campaign, Bernie Sanders stood sheepishly as two anonymous nobodies stole his microphone and hijacked the event, and that didn’t dent his standing.  A political movement rooted in public ostracization and physical violence will refrain from punishing, at least temporarily, impotent figureheads who acquiesce to its every demand.  For Buttigieg, it was more important to do well in the first debate.  And he did well, if by “did well” you mean that he was able to 1) string together coherent sentences with greater acuity than Biden, and 2) with a straight face, pass off to MSNBC “moderators” a blueprint for America that can best be summarized by Marty DiBergi’s review of Spinal Tap’s album Shark Sandwich.  That Buttigieg accomplished a feat that any breathing simian with a pulse could have done is nothing to write home about.  Nonetheless, one shouldn’t read too much into hasty predictions about his inevitable demise. 

Buttigieg's articulation and folksy mien demarcates him from the Xeroxed personalities of his faux outraged rivals.  He nicely fills the niche of the Leftist Christian who blames all of America’s ills on other Christians who don’t fill the cobwebbed pews of his finger-to-the-wind branch of Whateverist Christianity.  Oh, and he’s gay, and he’s banking on his intersectional status as a homosexual to pull him ahead of the pack, or at very least ahead of the Warrens and DeBlasios.  Unfortunately for Buttigieg, he jumped in the ring a few elections too late.  Time magazine may have slept through the alarm clock, but the progressive primary voters are fully woke.  Homosexuality alone is no longer sufficient to pull enough street cred with the friskier activist types running the show.  A decade ago, it meant something.  Nowadays, it barely earns you an invite to the pity party as designated driver.  And countering whatever lingering accolades his sexuality still garners, he has plenty going against him.  He’s white.  He’s male.  He’s an Afghan veteran (in that he fought for America).  That's three strikes, brother.  Buttigieg may be yesterday's victim, but he is today’s oppressor.  His South Bend town hall is evidence enough of that.   If he can keep this single incident in the rearview, then he has bought a few more laps.  If not, then tell Jeb we say hello. 

Or better yet, here’s an idea for any American aspiring to be elected leader of the free world:  Face down the mob.  Look it in the eye and defend loudly and clearly the constitutional principles you swore to uphold. Adhere to due process and the presumption of innocence.  Denounce the mob’s racism.  Reiterate the call to judge not by the color of skin, but by the content of character, and remind the mob who first said those words.  Buttigieg is a Rhodes Scholar, a Harvard graduate, a speaker of seven languages, and a former Navy intelligence officer.  It must have grated his soul to sit through that town hall and pander to those raucous dullards.  Or maybe he longed for the days in Afghanistan when illiterate Pashtun goatherds offered comparatively more insightful conversation.  But regardless, he should know better, both intellectually and ethically.  Mob politics are a threat to all our civil liberties.  The Little Sisters of the Poor are not.  If Buttigieg didn’t sense the ambush he was walking into and have the courage to speak truth to it, he has neither the ability nor the right to be president of the United States.

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