A new book showcases Obama's disdain for Pete Buttigieg
Everybody knows that Barack Obama was the guiding force behind the 2020 election. Heck, he's been the guiding force behind much of the last four years, including weaponizing the federal government against Donald Trump by setting up the Russia Hoax. As the Democrats' éminence grise, what Obama has to say about politicians vying for power within the party matters. That's why his dismissive comments about Pete Buttigieg, an unqualified man who lasted long into the primaries, are so interesting. According to Obama, Buttigieg was too young, too short, and too gay ever to be president.
There's a new book out — one that Amazon's sure to carry — called Lucky: How Joe Biden Barely Won the Presidency, by Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen. According to The Hill, the book recounts an October 2019 meeting that Obama held in New York City with Black donors. He was pushing them hard to support Elizabeth Warren, even though the corporate donors were worried about Warren's attacks on wealthy people.
Another candidate whose name came up was Pete Buttigieg, the young mayor from South Bend, Indiana. Buttigieg was making a good showing then and continued to do so until quite late in the campaign.
Buttigieg's success was impressive given how little he brought to the table. While Buttigieg had shown academic abilities (Harvard University plus a Rhodes Scholarship), he'd made no mark in the business world during his short stint at McKinsey and Company. He joined the U.S. Navy Reserve but made no mark there, either. His time in South Bend was also entirely undistinguished — except for the fact that he'd managed to offend the city's Black community by firing the first Black police chief.
During the campaign, Buttigieg's claims to fame were few: he was openly gay, he had a pleasantly deep voice, and he was young — which, when allied with a cherubic baby face, made him look remarkably like Mad Magazine's Alfred "What, Me Worry?" Newman.
Democrat voters were intrigued. Obama was not. The Hill quotes from the new book regarding Obama's dismissive references to Buttigieg:
"It was a ninety percent Warren sermon," said one donor in the room. When he was asked to return to the original question on his advice, Obama said he liked Buttigieg, a rising talent who'd worked on his own campaign. But despite his affinity for the South Bend mayor, he rattled off a list of reasons why Buttigieg couldn't win.
"He's thirty- eight," Obama said, pausing for dramatic effect, "but he looks thirty." The audience laughed. Obama was on a roll, using the tone of light ridicule he some-times pointed at himself — " big ears" and "a funny name," he'd said so many times before. Now, it was directed at Buttigieg. "He's the mayor of a small town," the former president continued. "He's gay," Obama said, "and he's short." More laughter.
Only months earlier, Buttigieg had sat in Obama's postpresidential office in Washington seeking counsel on how to maintain equanimity in the face of homophobia on the campaign trail. Now, behind his back, Obama was riffing on him to some of the wealthiest Black men in America at a time when Buttigieg had been dubbed "Mayo Pete" by critics who believed he couldn't connect with African American voters.
What's interesting is that it's unclear about whom Obama was being derisive: Buttigieg, who was too young, too little, and too gay, or the American people, whom Obama deemed too primitive to accept a short, young, gay candidate. Either way, Obama's trademark nastiness was on full display.
There's one other interesting point the book makes about this October 2019 meeting:
Obama kept going, acknowledging that he knew Kamala Harris but offering no further commentary. But when he wrapped up, he had left someone out. "You forgot Biden," one executive said, reminding him of his two-term vice president.
Obama seemed apprehensive, according to a source in the room. "His support for Biden was tepid at best," the person said. At that point, it didn't matter what he said about Biden. His silence spoke for him.
Joe's nothing but a filler, holding the place for another Obama protégée, Kamala Harris, a woman Democrats disliked so much that she couldn't even make it to the first primary vote before dropping out.
Image: Pete Buttigieg. YouTube screen grab.