Pete Buttigieg 'takes over' White House social media feed — what could go wrong?
Pete Buttigieg has announced he's taking over the White House social media feed in order to tout Joe Biden's achievements.
.@SecretaryPete here to take over the White House account as we hit the road talking Bidenomics and announcing the Biden-Harris Administration’s investments in our nation’s infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/Wqbv7xD9dY— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 6, 2023
What could go wrong?
To start with, the plan looks suspiciously close to being part of Biden's presidential campaign re-election strategy, given that Kamala Harris and Gavin Newsom are out touring the country to do the exact same thing. For Pete, that would violate the Hatch Act, which prohibits political campaigning while on the job.
But let's put that aside.
The front screen shot of the ad is so bad, what with that close-up of Pete with his mouth wide open, that it looks as if a political enemy created it. Look for that one to turn up in Republican campaign ads urging voters to vote for the other guy.
The content of this little takeover is actually even worse, once you listen closely to each video.
Start with this one:
Good morning, Washington State! Today, we’re on the ground announcing several projects that are better connecting people across land and water. pic.twitter.com/gJu6IMv9or— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 6, 2023
Notice anything? The sound doesn't work. The image, meanwhile, is nearly static, telling us nothing. Oh, well. Let's move onto the next one.
First stop: Mukilteo Ferry Terminal, where we’re modernizing one of Washington State’s busiest routes.— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 6, 2023
Ferries are the primary way many residents and workers travel across Puget Sound. Our $4.9M grant will make the commute more reliable and efficient for 4 million annual riders. pic.twitter.com/jfwc3R2MW4
Buttigieg earnestly describes a new project to electrify some commuter ferries in Washington state. There's nothing like greenie virtue-signaling, as if in this era of collapsing bridges in Philadelphia, Mexico-fouled beaches in San Diego, and open borders north and south, this takes the big priority in government infrastructure spending. For good measure, Pete notes that it's not just making the ferry "green" that's such a brag-worthy thing — it also "means more reliable service." Knowing what we know about the unreliability of electric cars, he didn't say how. After that, he released a big elementary word cloud about how many varieties of transportation there are and claimed that "all Americans are benefiting." Kamala Harris, call your office.
Then there was this one. Listen closely:
I’m joined by Senator @PattyMurray in Port Orchard, where we are announcing a new investment that’s going to modernize some of Washington State’s critical port infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/ttskkAE47q— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 6, 2023
He brags about a breakwater project for Port Orchard, Washington, with powerful Sen. Patty Murray, who said she managed to secure the project through the RAISE Act, initiated in 2009, which now got $9.5 million in funding. Was this what Pete was there to tout? Her pork-barrel program? Pete heaped solicitous praise on Murray, who didn't bring up Joe Biden's programs and took all credit for the spending, so Pete had to throw in that he also secured "more funding than ever" from Joe Biden's "Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan." He didn't give details the way she did on the program she was claiming credit for. He did call it a "very competitive program" and praised Murray for her political pull to get Port Orchard the funding. Read between the lines on that: she got the funding, meaning someone else's community didn't. Pete then threw in that everyone got funding in the country, contradicting the "very competitive" claim. Whatever it was, and whatever its value, it's something that one community got at the expense of the others. That's not exactly something to celebrate except if you live in Port Orchard.
Some ribbon-cutting photos here, to make the senator happy:
Here in Port Orchard, our $9.4M grant is replacing a 48-year-old public breakwater that’s vital to the community but at risk of failure. ⁰⁰The breakwater offers protection from large swells and storms – critical infrastructure for this area. pic.twitter.com/pBv3DpG0p6— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 6, 2023
And here we have Pete touting a rail crossing project with a local news article from The Columbian:
Tomorrow, I’m headed to Washougal, where we’re replacing a dangerous railroad crossing with a new underpass – better connecting neighborhoods, alleviating congestion, and making sure first responders are no longer stopped by a blocked crossing.⁰⁰https://t.co/fgpteomCv4— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 6, 2023
Read the article...which Pete probably thinks you won't...and notice the problems: cost overruns, a very long construction timeframe of three to four and a half years for emergency vehicles to get through, and praise from the powerful Murray again, for local congressional reps who muscled for the Biden infrastructure funding at the expense of someone else. Did a political opponent create this tweet? It almost looks like it.
Next up, Pete wraps up:
And that’s a wrap, thanks for following! ⁰⁰@POTUS has ushered in an infrastructure decade – bringing economic opportunity, good-paying jobs, and better, safer infrastructure to every state and territory across the U.S.⁰⁰See what's happening near you at… pic.twitter.com/KN7cAl3DAM— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 6, 2023
...which seems like a rather limited tour of the country where all this supposed infrastructure spending is going on. Perhaps he will have more — or perhaps not. He did provide a link to federally funded infrastruture projects throughout the country, in a map that comprised "public press releases, industry associations, and news articles," according to the Department of Transportation site's own map.
Don't they have a central registry of all their spending programs? Or might there be some programs there that aren't quite Biden Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan projects?
Well, yes — the White House notes that it represents additional programs besides the Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, probably to kind of pad the total:
Thanks to President Biden's Investing in America Agenda — including historic legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden such as the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act — that is changing.
Based on a gander I took of the San Diego section of the map, it appears that some of these things aren't even that. The map is below the fold here, and once one clicks on the public spending tab, one can use two fingers on many devices to get a close-up view of where each project has federal money being spent.
What's going on in San Diego? I see a lot of airport grants going on with big money going to the big airport, and small money (under $1 million) going to the small airports, including the Montgomery Field executive airport to service those with private jets. There's also a solar panel project at the University of California San Diego, plus a significant bridge upgrade project near the border with Mexico.
What do I not see? Any money for cleaning up San Diego's beaches and waterways, which are currently being polluted by the country to its south in a rather salient sovereign violation. The beaches have been closed for 555 days in some parts, according to local reports. The Marines and Navy SEALs who train there have to swim in that sewage, and lifeguards and illegal-alien rescue teams from the Border Patrol also get that exposure.
Priorities? The executive jet airport? Yes. The fouled beaches? Nothing.
Now let's look at the big bridge project down by the Tijuana border. KPBS public news station has an article about what that is all about.
On the surface, the Biden administration, through the voice of Kamala Harris, who announced the grant, said this:
Vice President Kamala Harris announced the grants at the Arland D. Williams Jr. Memorial Bridge in Washington, D.C.
"When bridges have to close for repairs — or worse, begin to fail — it can cut off access to an entire community, adding hours to commutes, costing money for local businesses, and delaying first responders from getting to an emergency," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "The grant awards we're announcing today are helping communities of all sizes modernize their bridges so that school buses, delivery trucks, ambulances, and commuters can get where they need to go quickly and safely."
In the paragraph below, the news agency told us what it was really about:
The bridge project in San Diego is expected to reduce traffic delays and improve freight movement, and reduce maintenance costs. It is estimated to create over $30 million in benefits from reduced congestion and traffic delays, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Freight movement. Guess where that comes from. That's right: Mexico. The Biden administration has used that money to make truck traffic from Mexico more efficient. That is probably a worthy aim, but only if the trucks really are transporting freight and not illegal aliens.
Nothing for border upgrades, nothing for the beaches — but plenty to make the border more open.
Then let's look at the airport upgrades, where most of the infrastructure spending — a big $24-million amount — from the feds comes from. Here's one program that was cited, the Airport Improvement Plan. What does Buttigieg's DOT have to say about this?
The Airport Improvement Program (AIP) airport grant program funds airport infrastructure projects such as runways, taxiways, airport signage, airport lighting, and airport markings. The grants strengthen our nation's aviation infrastructure.
Airports are entitled to a certain amount of AIP funding each year, based on passenger volume.
In other words, this wasn't special spending from Biden's Infrastructure plan; it was routine federal spending from the already existing Airport Improvement Program, and airports are already entitled to it.
San Diego didn't get anything for 2023, but it may have gotten cash from the previous two years.
Here's one that was from Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan, though — the DOT's Airport Terminals Program. What is that about?
According to DOT:
Eligible uses include upgrading, modernizing, and rebuilding airport terminals and sponsor-owned airport traffic control towers (ATCTs), including:
- Projects that bring airport facilities into compliance with regulations like the ADA
- Projects that create, modify, or expand facilities to meet demonstrated demand and promote accessibility, enhance environmental sustainability to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation standards, and encourage actual and potential competition
- Projects supporting an equitable, clean energy future
- Projects that create good-paying jobs with the free and fair choice to join a union
- Projects addressing the challenges facing underserved communities and rural areas
Just greenie transition stuff — nothing that actually improves the airport terminal experience for passengers. Money to be spending money, in other words.
Let's just say that Buttigieg didn't achieve much with this social media takeover. If anything, it looks even more as if a Republican opponent created it.
Image: Twitter screen shot.