Pete Buttigieg, the US Secretary of Transportation, is perhaps the most closely-scrutinized cabinet official I have witnessed since I began closely following politics leading up to the 2000 US presidential election. While I think many of us would like to see him do more, I offer a more sympathetic evaluation of his tenure thus far.
In Defense Of Transportation Secretary Buttigieg – Why I Am Far Less Critical Of His Tenure
Yesterday, Kyle tore into Buttigieg in a piece that counted up a number of issues (resort fees, Ohio train derailment, FAA system issues, and Southwest meltdown) and lamented that the Secretary has not done enough in his role. Let me start by saying that Kyle’s analysis is not unreasonable and Kyle and I have spoken often about “Mayor Pete” and our shared hope that he would bring needed reform across many modes of transport in the USA. Nevertheless, my assessment is different and due to the flurry of comments yesterday and clear interest in this issue, I thought I would offer my take today.
I cannot help but first note that it seems to me that particular animus is directed toward Buttigieg because he is openly gay. Indeed, review the comments (here, here, here) and you’ll see that is what some immediately reduce him to (to be clear, Kyle did not). That evaluation reduces him to an affirmative action hire by the Biden Administration because he is homosexual.
I would strongly push back on that narrative. Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg is more than a gay man. He’s more than a former mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He’s a shrewd politician. Somehow, his style resonated with many voters and he was a serious contender for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2020.
In order to avoid Bernie Sanders running away with primary victories, he and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D – MN) decided to strategically throw their support behind Biden early (even after Buttigieg won the Iowa caucuses). It worked. Biden became the Democratic nominee and later the 46th President of the United States.
Buttigieg’s appointment recognized his loyalty to Biden in the campaign.
But was he over his head from the very start? The US is quite unique in the West in that the political ruling class is old. These octogenarians, like senior flight attendants, have worked hard in the system over the decades to build up seniority and frankly, I like it that way. I am firmly against term limits (that’s another issue…).
Mayor Pete, however, brought a breath of fresh air into the Biden Administration. Here was a very smart and articulate, Harvard-educated Navy veteran with the sort of experience on a local level and in a professional environment (at McKinsey) that nicely balanced out the experience of others who had spent decades working at the federal or state level.
To those who say that Buttigieg was in over his head from the very start, I would push back that there is always a degree of learning on any job (including up to the POTUS) and that the key to success is not knowledge, which can be acquired, but good instinct and teachability. Now let’s turn to some specifics.
Resort Fees Beyond The Purview Of DOT
Early on his tenure, like Kyle, I expressed hope that Buttigieg could help end the proliferation of resort fees, which represent bait-and-swtich pricing tactics that mislead consumers. In that piece, from December 202o, I conceded that tackling these fees was likely beyond the scope of Buttigieg’s statutory authority, but hoped that the bundled nature of selling travel and transport might allow an opportunity for stricter regulation.
With recent Supreme Court jurisprudence, I don’t think DOT would be able to stretch its authority to regulate these fees. There are, however, other agencies in the Biden Administration that can tackle this and I hope that the POTUS meant what he said during his last State of the Union address.
So on this point, I cannot fault Buttigieg for failing to act.
Measured Response To Ohio Train Derailment
If anything, I think COVID-19 showed us the problem of governments rashly overreacting to threats to public safety (I will unpack this more in an upcoming story as it relates to a new scientific report from the UK).
The train derailment in Ohio was a serious issue. And indeed, the magnitude of that disaster was not properly understood in the immediate aftermath.
But I am not going to condemn Buttigieg for failing to get out in front of the cameras beside the wreckage and deliver a speech. It’s always so easy to Monday Morning Quarterback, isn’t it?
“I was taking pains to respect the role that I have, the role that I don’t have — but that should not have stopped me from weighing in about how I felt about what was happening.”
I find that reasonable. And I find the anger coming from right-wing media over his “inaction” to be unfortunate. As Buttigieg said at the same press conference:
“And to any national political figure who has decided to get involved in the plight of East Palestine … I have a simple message, which is, I need your help. Because if you’re serious about this, there is more that we could do to prevent more communities from going through this.”
This accident was tragic. It happened, in part, due to neglect from federal, state, and local officials spanning multiple decades and both parties to properly regulate emergency systems onboard trains. It also happened, more directly, due an overheated wheel bearing. I think it’s a stretch to blame Buttigieg for that. I applaud Buttigieg for calling upon all of us to work together to ensure another accident like that does not occur.
FAA Infrastructure Neglect Is A Long-Standing Problem
The systems that undergird Air Traffic Control in the United States are woefully outdated and the Federal Aviation Administration often seems impotent in bringing about meaningful change. But to blame Buttigieg for this is patently unreasonable.
A system that has been neglected not just for years, but for decades cannot be updated overnight. Instead, there must be bipartisan resolve (and funding) to make this happen. It seems to me that Buttigieg has cogently articulated the need to update this, but he is not the king…nor is Biden. Congress must fund this and even if it does, new systems are not off-the-shelf products: this will take years to finish.
Trump-era Transportation Security Elaine Chao did absolutely nothing to modernize ATC…and guess what? She also could not snap her fingers and make it happen. At least Buttigieg is talking about it. Trump talked about it too and nothing got done. Maybe Buttigieg will have better luck.
Southwest Airlines Meltdown Can Only Be Blamed On Southwest
I talked earlier about certain elements of the media trying to blame Mayor Pete for December meltdown at Southwest Airlines. What utter hogwash. I won’t recap the argument here, except to say that Buttigieg is not responsible for Southwest dragging its feet on updating its crew scheduling systems. Other airlines faced the same winter weather and did not melt down.
> Read More: Bernie Sanders Blames Capitalism And Fox News Blames Pete Buttigieg For Southwest Airlines Meltdown
What Buttigieg Has Done Right
It’s not like Buttigieg has done nothing at all during his tenure. Perhaps his most important contributions, however, are beyond the public eye.
Buttigieg was instrumental in helping to pass the massive bipartisan infrastructure bill early in Biden’s presidency: he lobbied moderate Republicans to support it and that bill is already creating better roads, highways, and bridges that will benefit generations to come.
Furthermore, Buttigieg has done a far better job than his predecessors of holding airlines accountable to consumers. Progress is slower than I’d like, but forcing airlines to actually publish what passengers are entitled to when severe delays and cancellations occur is a huge victory for consumers. The fact that United and Frontier voluntarily added complimentary seating for families traveling with young children is exactly the way conservatives should want government to work: encourage companies to make voluntary changes so that regulation does not become necessary.
Earlier today, the FAA awarded airports across the country $1 billion for much-needed improvements. Chicago O’Hare alone will receive $50 million (and anyone who travels through ORD knows how much is needed to make the airport a more presentable gateway to the USA). Speaking of the funding, Buttigieg explained:
“Americans deserve the best airports in the world, and with demand for air travel surging back, this funding to improve the passenger experience couldn’t come at a more urgent time. These grants will make it faster and easier to check your bags, get through security, and find your gate, all while creating jobs and supporting local economies.”
I don’t like the word deserve, but this is what I want a Transportation Secretary to do. This is how federal tax dollars can be used to create more efficient commerce and in so doing, lead to private sector flourishing.
And finally, he’s a nice guy. Speaking as someone who lived in the political world working on Capitol Hill and in the White House, character matters and I believe Buttigieg’s character makes him fit for public service. When I met him at Bob Dole’s funeral, I appreciated his kindness and I empathize with the struggle he went through with a son who shares the same name as my son. We disagree on many issues. If you know my background, you know I am not a left-wing cheerleader. But nevertheless, I think Buttigieg is unfairly attacked and I am hopeful that much more can be accomplished to protect and promote the traveling public during the remainder of his time at DOT.
Overall, I think Buttigieg has done a fine job thus far and I don’t speak as a partisan. While Kyle’s piece yesterday was not unreasonable, I view these issues in a different light and I think we would all do well to hold Mayor Pete accountable, but also better understand how the federal government functions and the limits on his power and influence.
image: @pete.buttigieg / Instagram
A proper and mature voice of reason. This is the post that should have appeared all along. Well written and perfectly expressed as to facts, realities, and solutions forward.
I like making fun of Buttgieg because it triggers the leftists here (see how in Kyle’s post, pointing out his failures equates to literally hate and bigotry), but aside from that admission:
Again I ask, is he even responsible for resort fees? Nothing to do with transportation.
Also I can’t fault him for the literal train wreck since it’s only been a few weeks since that happened and I can’t expect anyone in America to come up with a plan right away.
But the supply chain thing and especially the airline meltdowns is totally in his wheelhouse. Meltdowns have been a thing since his tenure (during the covid season), so at least a year, if not more, and he still has nothing for that apart from strongly worded letters. Comparing him to the orange man and his cabinets’ failures is an unbelievably low bar.
And the infrastructure bill? IIRC That was purely a politics play by the R’s, so they can appease the 2 D’s in the Senate so they don’t vote for the much bigger pork in the $5T+ Build Back Better (They’d rather spend 1.7T than 5T). The framing that Mayor Pete was the genius in all of that is overstated.
Nobody is triggered by your juvenile comments. Why do conservatives always think people are triggered when people are laughing at conservatives who are hellbent on demonstrating their stupidity and ignorance to a bunch of strangers online?
Thank you for this. Your thoughtful perspectives at both personal and political levels are very helpful, in developing a fuller picture of Secretary Buttigieg and his tenure thus far. Kyle’s perspectives added to that as well, and it’s always interesting and instructional to hear differing opinions.
I would think with all of your “beltway, insider knowledge,” you would know it is Capitol Hill, not Capital, but what do I know? The amount of back-bending done by you and Kyle on this is amazing. For a “story” that didn’t even need to be written, other than for the clicks.
What are you talking about?
so, you make the edit and then act like I said something off the wall? It’s certainly your blog, so ultimately you and others can write anything you would like to have on here. I’m having a tough time seeing how either of these stories leads to a better blog site, other than it creates interaction on your page. If people are coming here to actually be persuaded by you or Kyle as to how Sec. Buttigieg is doing, then I’m at a loss for words.
I was referring to the second part of your comment, not the part about the Capital. I believe there is a serious, ongoing, and concerted attempt among more right-leaning circles to totally discredit Buttigieg becuase they fear he has presidential aspirations. I don’t like it. Kyle did not set out, in my opinion, to rip him apart out of partisan vitriol, but I wanted to offer my perspective precisely in an attempt to help more reasonable-minded members of the right not to be so quick to dismiss this man as nothing but a gay affirmative action appointment.
Fair enough. I believe you in that you have good intentions. It comes across as, Kyle riled up one segment of your readership, getting support from the other. So, you had to write a piece to appease the other segment, and probably riling up those that sided with Kyle. Again, that is my view, which is quite possibly off base. I do appreciate the thoughtful response. Enjoy your trip!
Yes, there have been some things beyond the Secretary’s control. However, when asked by a reporter about Ohio, his response that he is on”personal time” is unforgivable. In addition, diverting $20 million of FAA fundsto DEI, instead of flight safety is also not in the best interest of the flying public. Also, his racial comments about the construction industry are totally unfounded.
These reasons cast doubt on whether Mr. Buttigieg has the safety and well being of ALL Americans, or just has his personal politics and needs in the forefront.
This is reasonable.
@Jeffrey. While these certainly should be looked at I think also presenting them in the context of the moment is important.
1. The “personal time” comment came from a reporter chasing Pete down a street when he was walking with his family. He asked the reporter continuously and politely to refer to his 12 interviews he did earlier today. She persisted with questions. She was not even known to be legitimate, just a person on the street with a phone and claiming to be from The Daily Caller, a small right wing news source. His final response to her continued badgering and his polite responses, “No. I’m going to refer you to the comments I made to the press because right now I’m taking some personal time and I’m walking down the street,” Thus, are you endorsing that interns from any news source, right or left, should have the right to badger continuously anyone they oppose when walking with their family? I didn’t support the man verbally questioning Ted Cruz at a restaurant in Houston. And I despise the man. Nor do I support journalists outside the homes of Supreme Court members. Sorry, this was crossing the line. There are channels and procedures. He is not a convicted murderer being given parole. He is the Secretary of Transportation.
2. DEI will always be controversial. There is just no getting around it. I’m not going to argue either way until we see if we can begin to make a difference, or if it’s all just theater. Regardless, the concept of giving minority under privilidged men and women the chance to get jobs as Air traffic controllers or pilots is fantastic to me. So long as the education standards in training are not compromised. It deserves a chance.
3. Yes, this was political, that is the comment about construction workers. However true it may be. Pete has long suffered from distrust from the black community as to his moderate approach. A bit of window dressing for sure – but hardly damaging. And really, does it hurt to encourage more young men of color to see this opportunity and to give them a path there?
Bottom line: There is nothing here that is so out of touch beyond anything other than conservative feeds creating a gotcha moment. Because, rightfully, they are afraid of him.
Thank you, Mathew, for your ‘voice of reason’ response. I felt Kyle’s article reaked of partisanship and a bit of bigotry. As a contributor to you blog, his tone and content can vary widely from yours, and I don’t like his. So, I will no longer read any of his posts. His evisceration of DOT Secretary Pete Buttgieg was totally unreasonable and unfounded. Thank you again for your balanced assessment of Pete and the job he’s been doing at the DOJ.
I find that to be a bit unfair. Kyle may have a different opinion from yours, and he may communicate it more bluntly than Matthew, but I did not find it to be a partisan hatchet job and can point to one specific area: the discussion of resort fees. At first, I thought this was a strange critique. After all, how does Sec. Buttigieg have statutory authority to regulate hotel resort fees and price disclosure? Kyle pointed out that Sec. Buttigieg likely does not have such statutory authority, but, nonetheless, it would be smart politically to be out in front of the issue and coordinate messaging on an issue the President raised in the State of the Union. That sounds like an objective analysis of the political side if it. Kyle could have done what many opponents of the Biden administration do: blame them for everything that goes wrong and say “Sec. [Whoever] has been silent on this issue for two years!” Kyle could have left out that Buttigieg likely does not have the legal authority to do anything now; but he made a point to highlight it. Buttigieg could have been working with House Democrats to amend the relevant DOT laws to empower him to regulate hotel and resort fees. Kyle essentially gave Buttigieg a playbook on what to do. He did not simply bemoan the secretary’s resume, experience, or perceived lack thereof. In truth, I thought the only thing that was a little over the top was the headline. I was expecting a diatribe.
So. let me understand, you feel that Pete not weighing in on something that is completely out of his realm of power is what he should be doing? I mean, with that, should he be weighing in on foreign policy? Or regulatory issues pertaining to Social Media? Or Social Security? Hmm, so you are basically saying that Pete should be President. I’m all for it. I’m glad you are giving him that path. That much I will agree with you on.
Forget about Buttigieg. Forget about Kamala. They could be the most competent people for their job. Do you know what the problem is? They don’t talk on how competent they are. They focus that one is gay and the other is black. That’s what the Liberals care. Thus, even if they were extremely competent, that is left behind because they love to say that Biden has brought diversity, bla bla bla.. Seriously, who gives a s..t? Focus in doing your job and stop classifying people by their sexual orientation, their race, religion, etc…. Who cares? Liberals have put diversity ahead of competency and people like Buttigieg and Kamala will always pay the price since half of the population of this country are tired of that BS. As long as they do a good job, nobody should care what color they are, what their sexual life is, etc…. America is getting boring since now the stereotype of the person is more important than their skills. Why we didn’t see this BS in the past? Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice were black and I don’t remember anyone talking about that. They were just people doing their job. I just looked online, did you know Eric Fanning? He was the Secretary of Army and gay. Who knew that? Probably nobody, because nobody should care. So, shame on the Liberals for calling out all this BS about diversity vs focusing on competence.
Pete doesn’t talk about himself being gay that I’ve ever heard, maybe if you are seeking that out to prove a point you can find it somewhere, but i highly doubt he lists that as one of his qualifications. Almost all the people that mention him as being gay are republicans. You want him to talk about how competent he is? Like how Trump always says how nobody knows more about whatever the topic is than him? Is hyperbole what you desire from politicians?
In my experience, the ones who have to tell you how smart they are usually the most clueless and are trying to convince themselves of their prowess as much as they are trying to convince you or I.
How many minorities worked in the Trump administration? Very few. Are you telling me that those white dudes were all more qualified than any minorities? That’s the point of promoting diversity, giving people a chance that might have a different viewpoint.
It’s funny you mention Condoleezza Rice, as she is in favor of affirmative action.
As to Pete, I disagree that he is out there touting the fact he is gay in relation to his work – other than his words of inspiration to young gay men in America to be inspired by his example that they can achieve success and should not feel marginalized. In fact Colin Powell, who you cite, and a man I greatly admire, did the same in speaking to young men of color as well.
Quite frankly, it’s the GOP and others of like mind who seem to be obsessed with it. As an example Trump Jr referring to Pete a few days ago as, “The Gay guy.” Perhaps if all of you would stop obsessing over it, and focus simply on the job he is doing, you might realize how little anyone else even cares besides yourself. The reason people didn’t discuss Rice or Powell often as to their color is that they were not despised by the GOP. And Dems seem to be more rational and understanding when they disagreed with some of Rice’s mistakes that they then don’t refer to her as, “That black woman who is only there because of her color.”
You are talking about it, Santastico. Not me. Or others who respect his work, intentions. and ability to communicate well to everyone. Just you and those on your side of the aisle that seem to want to make it a story.
Oh so was the GOP that referred to Kamala as the first black VP? What competence does she have to be Vice President? She was only on the ballot because she was black and woman. She doesn’t even like Biden but he needed her. I doubt Pete would have this job if he was just a straight make guy. Tell me what former Energy Official Sam Brinton competence was for him to get that job other than being what we know he is? So you tell me appearance is not a factor on the Liberals agenda to hire their team?
First of all, it is one thing to recognize the history of a first woman of color as VP. It’s an important moment and deserving of recognition. Yet it is another to spend over two years for people like you saying she is a failure because she was chosen as woman of color. There is no secret here. Biden has made no bones about it. The fact is that virtually every Vice President selection in history depends not entirely on the BEST experience and intellect but rather how the experience they do have balances the President and can win him votes and support. Mike Pence, older white Christian midwesterner to balance off Trump is a perfect example. Was he any more qualified than Harris? It can be argued both ways I am sure – but it’s not like Biden picked Harris out of a BLM catalog of their perfect candidate. He was, yes, selecting a candidate who has political experience, was known in Washington, along with keeping to his promise to appeal to marginalized voters who are tired of old white men in DC (which he is) and want to see more of America represented. You can argue that Biden won because of her. And that’s the first step. If you want to criticize her, fine, she turned out to be not a great communicator – or someone that Biden can truly count on. But that could be said for many VP’s over the years. Including Pence, Cheney, or, my favorite ever, Dan Quayle…he was the biggest idiot in VP history but filled the needed GOP persona much like Pence did.
But these posts are NOT about Harris. The argument here is about Pete, who I actually think would have been an excellent VP. I can rattle off endless cabinet picks in both parties over the years that could be argued were less than stellar as to experience. Rick Perry running the Energy Department? Betsy Devos as Secretary of Education? Or even Chao. Bottom line is, most of these posts are political. Some end up doing well. Others are disasters. But there is always a hint of political favors and checking off boxes in these appointments. Biden needed to give Pete a solid for stepping out of the primary. You should also thank Pete for it. If he hadn’t you might see Sanders in the White House today and than your head would really be exploding. Was he uniquely qualified for the position? Of course not, few ever are. But he displays an incredible intellect, a pure drive, moderate leanings, and an ability to adapt quickly to situations. As well, he is an even better communicator than Obama is. He was not selected BECAUSE he is gay. He was selected because he is one of the major rising stars in the Democratic Party and deserved an opportunity in Washington. In fact, if he wasn’t gay and so brilliant the GOP would never even notice him or mention his name. The fact that he is BOTH y’all go wild and act just like Trump Jr calling him, “That Gay Guy.”
Get used to Pete, Santastico. He is the real deal. Be grateful as well in that he is a moderate and more reasonable than the left loonies like AOC. He is going to rise quickly in Washington. And you may very well be looking at a future President. This is exactly why the GOP is so scared of him.
@Stuart: not sure what you are drinking but it is definitely not good for you.
@Santastico……..drinking pitcher of Karenade w xtra……KAREN
@ Santastico….I would expect better in response from my 14 year old daughter when she opposed something I said. What’s your excuse? Nothing to counter with so just throw down an insult instead? Please, feel free to tell me what you really think.
In fairness, Kyle barely communicates coherently, so I take anything he writes with a giant grain of salt.
It’s a painful truth. His writing is, to put it mildly, atrocious. Before a strawman is used, I know that blogs entries aren’t literature. But his entries are just giant word salads, entire paragraphs are bereft of sense, and basic spell check would have a field day, This is on top of his abhorrent practice of deleting many comments he disagrees with, and even those that are trying to be helpful by pointing out a sentence that makes no grammatical sense. He does it ALL. THE. TIME. Even more, after how many years, this hanger-on has not improved at all – not a single iota. If you want to take Sunday off, honestly, no content would be better than that content.
Stop defending the indefensible.
Pothole Pete is a total failure. This administration has been in place for 2+ years and we have had one disaster after another – all as a direct result of their actions or inactions. Pothole Pete is just one example.
Afghan surender debacle
Human trafficking and drug importation as a result of the open border policy
Baby formula shortgages
High interest rates
Out of control crime
100,000 fentanyl ODs deaths per year. (3 x the toll in Ukraine, BTW)
Sorry – the truth hurts.
Afghan surender debacle – Negotiated by Trump
Human trafficking and drug importation as a result of the open border policy – same border policy as during Trump administration
Education crisis – the only crisis is high school dropout Republicans making it to congress
Baby formula shortgages – Trump tariffs
High interest rates – Trump fed chair is making those decisions
Runaway inflation – consequence of covid 19 that Trump didn’t stop
Out of control crime – crime rate peaked in 2020
100,000 fentanyl ODs deaths per year. (3 x the toll in Ukraine, BTW) – those are mostly red staters, why can’t they get it under control?
I will only respond to the baby formula shortage being due to Trump’s tariffs. Baby formula is not allowed to be imported into the US. In addition, because of the government picking winners and losers, they have reduced the number of manufacturers of baby formula. This entire debacle started when Biden’s FDA decided that some formula in Mississippi MAY HAVE HAD salmonella in it. Because of that, they shut down a large part of our nations production. In the end, it was the water source that caused the problem, but they still kept the plant closed, and they have been unable to bring it back to it’s former production. Since they essentially killed domestic production, they did allow formula from overseas to come in, but it was at a huge cost and really did very little. it has nothing to do with trump or tariffs. Now you know. Turn off CNN.
I have not read a great deal about the baby formula shortage but it seems to have gone away. Or at least no one is talking about it, nor am I seeing people fill carts with it anymore. Regardless, if that’s the reason for the shortage it seems somewhat a reasonable response by “Biden’s FDA.” Don’t you think? If they had done nothing and there were babies getting sick around the country can you imagine the uproar to “Biden’s FDA” for sitting on their hands? Yes, it created a shortage – because the water in Mississippi is an embarrassment in the “world’s wealthiest country.” How long has it been since people in Jackson can’t even drink their own water? As such, what would you have done? I highly doubt that Biden and his teams just said, “Oh well, babies are going to have to fend for themselves.” Sounds like a complex issue that was addressed, dealt with, did cause some pain (less than babies dying from contaminated water), and ended up with solutions that have corrected now. As well, you should stop getting your news from Tucker Carlson, who lied to his own viewers and should now be seen for what he really is: a traitor to his country for nothing more than ratings and rising stock options in FOX.
By your logic, EVERY problem experienced in Republican run states MUST be evidence of their failure.
For example, that EVERY Southern state is now run by Republicans. And EVEY Southern dtate now rakes in more federal money than they pay in federal taxes
(Isn’t that the very definition of socialism?) Therefore, Republicans are responsible for their dependence on the Blue states who constitute 70% of the GDP and are subsidizing the Republican states who refuse to stand on their own two feet.
As for literacy eares and high school graduation rates across the Sputh, which are pathetically low compared to the rest of the country, well that must be the doing of the Republicans, since they control the legislatures and governors’ sears there. It’s almost as if they have institutionalized lack of opportunity. But that’s where we’re at in today’s conservative America: keep them uneducated, permanently outraged, and armed to the teeth.
But yeah, keep whining about the Dems. We’re just laughing at you.
Thank you for this cogent commentary. Kyle’s piece belonged on OAN, Faux News, or any other rag owned by Rupert Murdock. I hope that you will consider removing Kyle from any further contributions to your blog.
I will keep my comments to the actual subject matter of the two posts (yours and Kyle’s). Kyle correctly pointed out that legally, Sec. Buttigieg probably doesn’t have the statutory authority to do anything about it. But Kyle was also correct that this was an easy thing for the secretary to get in front of politically. Matthew was also correct that “Mayor Pete” is a shrewd politician. A shrewd cabinet member would coordinate with the White House on messaging. The President’s call to get rid of hidden fees in travel started before the SOTU and before the train derailment. Any agency remotely related to the travel industry (especially DOT) should have been out there to share the talking points and ask that Congress either take action or empower DOT to issue regulations. As far as the train derailment, this failure was bigger than him. I’ll be honest; I think media outlets share some of the blame. They see everything through the lens of politics and I don’t recall the derailment or the explosion being on the front pages until days into the tragedy. The White House should have gotten the EPA, FEMA, DOD (for National Guard), and DOT together to coordinated the response while keeping the public thoroughly informed. The Secretary’s stated reason for not going to East Palestine sooner is a legitimate concern. You don’t want first responders and displaced local residents having to contend with closed roads, police protection, and associated disruption. But Sec. Buttigieg should have made this clear from the beginning in coordinating with the other agencies and the White House. There should have been someone from the beginning making this an issue and demanding Norfolk Southern provide answers and outlining preliminary steps that would be taken to ensure other loads of toxic chemicals were secure. That would have been good policy and good politics. In short, my opinion is that while both Matthew and Kyle make valid points, I am with “Team Kyle” on this front.
“…reduces him to an affirmative action hire by the Biden Administration because he is homosexual.”
That IS all he is, nothing more.
And he’s still done more than you. That must sting
That’s debatable, but I suspect your line of attack is more projection than anything else.
Thank’s for your important contribution to the elevation of respectful discourse in our society, Chi.
(Didn’t mean to add more sloppiness to this comment section).
Most people learn the difference between “your” and “you’re” by age 9.
We all know that he’s there for one reason and one reason only ……and it’s not his “qualifications”. A much more competent appointment could have really handled the position well. Instead, we’re not only just wasting time and money but we’re actually hurting people.
What would Chao or Foxx or LaHood or Peters done differently?
Oh so Pete is allowed to suck just because the others did too? Cool. Look, there have been some very real crises that Pete simply didn’t show up for. Keep pointing at Trump appointments if you feel that excuses his lack of skill I guess. I have no doubt that Pete is probably a very nice guy but he’s just not a good fit for this job and real damage is being done here.
You mean like Elaine Chao…?
To the extent Pete got the job, it’s not because he was gay, it’s because of good old cronyism, a long-standing bipartisan tradition. Lower level cabinet positions often go to people who aren’t qualified for the job such as big time donors/politically connected people (see Betsy Devos/Elaine Chao) or political rivals who droped out of the primary and endorsed the newly-elected president (see Ben Carson). Buttigieg is clearly in the second group. His last minute decision to drop out of the Democratic primary right before Super Tuesday all but clinched the race for Biden, to the point that for most pundits the question wasn’t whether he would get a cabinet or similar position, but which position he would get.
While it’s not ideal, that kind of cronyism is common for both parties and happens in pretty much every administration. Pete’s homosexuality, probably was seen as an added bonus, but he would have gotten DoT or something similar,even if he were straight, for dropping out of the race and endorsing Biden when he did.
Excellent comments regarding ” Mayor Pete”. And I was one who objected quite clearly yesterday. Thank you for this piece. Fair and balanced.
Lol, fair and balanced because you agree with it.
When I lived in Canada, I became disillusioned of the English-French conflict. I came back to Canada in summer 95 and stayed until year end only to witness Quebec voted 49.5% in favor of secession. I now live in CA and witness the deepening tribal conflicts between conservatives and liberals or Democrats vs Republicans, it saddens to know we have external treats that are hell bent to bring us down while we continue engaging in self destruction. China is gobbling up natural resources in Africa, Asia and South America, bullying its neighboring countries, and buying up farm lands in America to secure its expansion and survival. Few countries, such as India and Saudi Arabia, now ban food export. Democracy is on life support in US. Three branches of government are on their power trips to achieve their self-interests, not national interests and security. State governments are now passing laws that take away power and authority from local jurisdiction. Corruptions are rampant in three branches of government. Campaign donations at home and abroad are the ultimate cancer among agencies and committees that paralyzes their effectiveness to legislate and enforce the laws. I do not travel domestically but when I rarely do, I pity the American flying public being abused, mistreated and gouged by their domestic airline carriers to no end in sight. It is inexplicable and incomprehensible to read and hear the animosity and hatred directed at LGBT. But we should not teach kids this issue in school before high school. Save school resources for reading, writing, math, science and world geography. The continuing problems that we face now are the culmination of incompetence and corruption from both parties in congress and the White House over decades. Tax cuts in lieu of the crumbling infrastructures anyone? Elaine Chao became Labor and Transportation Secs only because the Republican President wanted to advance his agendas via her husband. No diversity quota involved. No qualifications required.
@ Santatisco: Colin Powel’s stature was shattered after he delivered his speech at UN in support of Iraq invasion based on WMD allegation. Condoleeza was at the helm when 9/11 took place. Never understood why Stanford hired and retains her as Director of Hoover institution now. Bush Jr. is a wartime criminal who invaded a sovereign country without valid cause whose war killed millions of civilians. Now, Iran has a strangle hold in Iraq, Syria and Yemen– a factor that his father and advisors tried their best to avoid by refusing to advance troops into Iraq.
Matthew – Thanks for this post (and the great blog)! Just one little note: Pete Buttigieg is a Navy veteran, not Army. I appreciate all you do.
You’re a clown just like Mayor Pete, who has continuously screwed up and was simply a diversity hire. Any guy on paternity leave is a joke. He’s not capable of handling any transportation related issue. He’s certainly out of touch with aviation. He’s dropped the ball in East Palestine. You should be embarrassed defending him. Your left wing bias clearly shows. Before you call me a right winger, I’m not. Moderate voter who is registered independent
“Any guy on paternity leave is a joke.”
The guy is in way over his head with absolutely no experience at all. Just another box checked off by the Biden Admin, with personnel picks based on color, sex or gender instead of experience/ competency.
@Matt, @ Kyle and to all the commenters. Thank you. This has been one of the best posts. I see Buttigieg as a Secretary that has acted with information rather than politics. I appreciate this approach to government
May we see more of this
As evidenced by so many comments, most of the world is under mass hypnosis. How does one even begin to counter that? It’s truly a sad sight to see.
After over 200 comments from both articles, there was not one Buttigieg supporter who provided empathy to Kyle or his extended family in Ohio, who are personally impacted this issue and the never ending incompetence in this country.
Instead, we had countless commenters seemingly called by God himself to jump to Mayor Pete’s defense. It’s pretty funny to see people prop up Mayor Pete like this, just because he has an “Obama-lite” demeanor.
While insignificant in the grand scheme of this current war, Kyle was absolutely correct about the lay up regarding resort fees. PB could have easily become vocal about that. Or vocal about anything at all besides white people.
It is borderline hysterical that the dems say they are the party of love and care and environment and that they are all for all people and all this BS. For the people—The Nancy Pelosi platitudes. But none of it is true.
“Ain’t s— changed,” said Shawn White, a black 24-year-old from South Bend’s west side. “How is he gonna run the whole country if you can’t even get your city right first?”
White said that he remembers seeing the city’s previous mayor, Steve Luecke, around his neighborhood. But Buttigieg, he said, has stayed away.
“I ain’t ever seen the dude,” White said. “Tell him to chill with us for three or four days.”
—South Bend residents agree, but diversity politics are more important to most LALF commenters. Make it make sense.
While we are waiting for things to make sense, it’s also interesting that no one mentioned Pete’s taxpayer funded private jet use or his taxpayer funds trips for political travel. Inconvenient facts.
May we NOT see more of this.
@Aj. My headache welcomes you. Yes I expressed sympathy. Btw in my region we also have had some fallout that precisely tracks with the sinus symptoms reported in East Palestine. Including myself. I have been sick since Friday. We here are waiting for epa testing. And I am happy to wait rather than listen to Fox speculation. As we know now by their texts, you should look elsewhere for information.
I don’t watch FOX. Even if I did, FOX viewers are seemingly way more informed than most.
I did read that Erin Brockovich has had some important things to say on all networks. The dangers of vinyl chloride are known and well documented. EPA should not be trusted, 9/11 and other events have proven that.
I would encourage you to find a holistic doctor through ACAM—the American College for Advancement in Medicine. They will know best on how to proceed with symptoms versus the EPA.
@aj And how does this relate to a politically charged moment that Kyle wished to exploit? You, as well as him, are doing nothing more than, “killing the messenger.” We have a problem, yes. People are (hopefully) working on it. But instead of being part of the solution, as is usual today, everyone wants to be part of the problem. So, what is your solution? What would you do differently? I am genuinely respecting and adhering to your voice.
@Stuart Thank you for addressing. I am sick
@ AJ Please don’t give me medical advice. I already have 2 blood cancers. But thanks for for the concern.
My solution is not going to be accepted by many, as it’s a spiritual solution and not a physical one:
Prayer–first, and foremost.
Pray for Ohio. Pray for this country. Pray for everyone. Pray for everything. It is said that what happens in the physical realm must happen in the spiritual realm first.
And then self-actualization, second–the self acting as the best they can be.
While I don’t agree with much of her politics, I find Marianne Williamson to be one of the most profound spiritual teachers of our time. In a talk at an Oprah event at UCLA, she explains how the human race has been infected by a spiritual malignancy.
The video–linked below–is about 23 minutes long and worth watching. At the end of the day, for me, it comes down to approaching situations either from a high vibrational love/faith based mindset or a low vibrational fear/hate based one. And of course, I’ve been guilty of the latter many times myself.
I previously transcribed some of my favorite quotes from the video. While this may sound like it just applies to romantic relationships, it actually applies to all kinds, from acquaintances to colleagues and otherwise:
“What’s not love is a call for love.
That doesn’t mean I need to date you..it doesn’t mean I need to marry you..doesn’t mean I have to have sex with you..and doesn’t mean I need to work with you..
But it does mean that my spiritual calling in order for me to be in the right relationship with the universe, my right relationship with love, my right relationship with spirit, and my right relationship with you, is to stand here, not in judgment or blame..not to say “well you’re not giving me what I want”, but rather to ask that I be an instrument of love.
Otherwise, I’m not actualized. And if I’m not actualized, I cannot collaborate with you.
This relationship–whatever it is–is not for me just to get what I want, but so that we might be collaborative in serving the flow of love through us for all living things. And then we serve something higher than ourselves.
That’s why our relationships don’t work, because we are trying to use them for our purposes only.
But that malignant thought is exactly what we are here as a species to evolve beyond.
And we must because humanity itself is now at a crossroads.
There will either be mass enlightenment, or mass global destruction. Those are the only two choices humanity has at this point.
And that is why all of this is happening. All of the these books are being written, all of these individuals who are understanding within us, that our purpose here is to be used for something higher than ourselves and to greet everyone we meet with that Namaste consciousness, where we know, this is something holy going on here. It is a holy encounter, if I intend that it be so.
So this is the way we do it, we wake up in the morning and we ask.. we say to natural intelligence, love, to God as we understand it.. we ask that our intention be:
Where would you have me go?
What would you have me do?
What would you have me say?
And to whom?
And then we are asked to see, in every single relationship encounter, even the most casual ones: that either God is in everyone, or God is in no one.
If I’m having a critical thought..if I’m having a negative thought..if I’m having a blaming thought..if I’m having a victimizing thought — I might not be evolved enough to not have that thought, but I can be evolved enough to say: ‘I am willing to see this differently. I am willing to ask for a divine intercession from a thought system beyond my own, to enter into this thought system, and restore the celestial order within my thinking.’
Yes, we all have selfish thoughts. Yes, we all have negative thoughts, et cetera.
But we can take a stand:
We can take a stand for love..
We can take a stand for the universe..
We can a stand for enlightenment..
We can take a stand for God..
Which is ultimately, we can take a stand for our own self.
That is self-care. That is self-love.
There’s nothing wrong with the word ‘try’ when it comes it comes to our spirituality.
We try..sometimes we get it wrong..sometimes we say things we wish we hadn’t said..we do things we wish we hadn’t done.
But we can atone. And we can make amends. And we can start over. And we can be even better.
And we can know: yesterday I was weak, but today I can be strong.
And where I’m good, I’m even going to get better.
And where I get it wrong with you, I’m going to meet you again down the road, and I might have been weak in this relationship last time but I’m going to be strong now.
Where I was weak, I’m going to be strong.
And where I was selfish, I’m going to be giving.
And where I was bound in fear, my love is going to free me,
because, I, no better than anyone else,
but no less than anyone else,
am an instrument of God.
I am lamp. I am a lamp through which this light is meant to shine.”
@Aj, Coming from a man who said 30 minutes before that, “Fox News viewers are more informed than most” does not lend itself to your impassioned and quoted treatise from Marianne Williamson. The reality is that FOX lied to its viewers and contributed to the hell we see now in America. All for profits and market share. And yet you still defend them. And the people so blind as to follow anything they say. Spare us your pretty quotes unless you are willing to live them. And given your defense of FOX and what they did as to the promotion of a “stolen election” I see nothing but hot air and pretty prose. Please, spare me.
It’s just my opinion on how we should be trying to live. We all must stop pointing fingers at some point because when we point the finger at others we have three pointing back at us, as the saying goes. Overall this quote is helpful when framing Kyle’s story on Pete and the reaction. Perhaps he just needed someone to hear his concerns and for someone to react to them with love. His family and friends are affected. That is serious. Instead the reaction was to attack and demonize him but I’m not sure that was fair. It seems most other commenters do not live in Ohio. Maybe more would care if they did. Either way, I think we need to care about citizens first over any dogma or doctrine. Meaning with the state of the country the way it is, I’m not sure that we should be propping up any politicians at this point, whether left or right. FOX certainly is not the answer but overall I find viewers who watch them to know more about current events than those who watch CNN or MSNBC only. FOX certainly is no savior, but none of them are. What matters is that the individual do some soul searching, both individually and externally.
I disagreed with Kyle’s take, but I respected the fact that he defended it and engaged in dialogue in the comments. What I found disheartening; however, was the fact that he deleted Stuart’s well thought out rebuttal, then when called out for deleting it, immediately stopped responding.
People make decisions in the heat of the moment. S– happens.
For Billy Bob:
The Washington Post reviewed “every possible regulatory change” that was made under the Trump administration and found that none of them contributed to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
“We decided to examine every possible regulatory change made under Trump that could be related to the accident and assess whether it could have made an impact,” read a review published Monday by Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post.
“From our analysis, none of the regulatory changes made during the Trump administration at this point can be cited as contributing to the accident,” Kessler added.
The review of “every possible regulatory change” made under Trump was conducted after U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was called out for falsely claiming that a proposed rule withdrawn in 2018 (under the Trump administration) had contributed to the train disaster in Ohio.
Even a member of Biden’s own administration (National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy) called Buttigieg’s claims about the East Palestine train derailment “misinformation.”
On Thursday, the New York Times also acknowledged in a report that the claims that former President Donald Trump’s administration was responsible for the train derailment in East Palestine due to it rolling back a rail safety rule is inaccurate.
But by that point, it was already too late as the false claim initially made by Buttigieg on February 14 had already circulated on social media where people regurgitated the transportation secretary’s remarks, spreading confusion and falsehoods across the internet.
Buttigieg recently raised a legal claim to blame the Trump Administration for the train disaster in East Palestine, Ohio. The claim was not only manifestly false but Buttigieg knew or should have known it was false. The implications are deeply disturbing. When confronted with a disaster, Buttigieg not only made a false claim but attempted to weaponize a tragedy against political opponents. That is a serious problem for a public figure and worthy of condemnation.
Given his delay in visiting the site, Buttigieg had more information on the cause of the derailment than just the initial accounts. However, he falsely claimed that “we’re constrained by law on some areas of rail regulation,” and cited “the braking rule withdrawn by the Trump administration in 2018 because of a law passed by Congress in 2015.”
This false claim was picked up by various pundits and politicians, including figures like Joy Behar on the The View. That included Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) who went to the Senate floor and declared that, in 2017,
“the Trump administration repealed requirements for an electronic braking system because, according to them, the safety benefits were not worth the cost. I think the people of East Palestine now know that analysis was wrong and that they’re suffering the consequences of rail companies putting profits over people.”
Homendy sounded more like a cabinet member than Buttigieg when she declared “Enough with the politics on this. I don’t understand why this has gotten so political. This is a community that is suffering. This is not about politics.” Homendy added that anyone who says otherwise is “spreading misinformation.”
Given this Administration’s long use of disinformation and misinformation as rationales for censorship, the statement was particularly poignant. Would the Biden Administration demand that Buttigieg be censored by social media in making this claim as it has done with conservative speakers or posters? After all, this was a false claim made on a current public health emergency.
Of course, I would not censor Buttigieg. It is sufficient (as shown this week) that free speech allows for good speech to counter bad speech. However, it is another example of how subjective censorship can be when you go into the business of barring views deemed disinformation.
At a time of tragedy, presidents ideally try to rally a nation to a common cause and shared suffering. They do not always succeed. However, cabinet members are expected to show complete detachment from politics in dealing with tragedies to assure the public that public safety is not being balanced against political expediencies. That is why this false claim is so serious. One of the first major statements made by Buttigieg at the scene was to attack the former president and the expected opponent to President Biden in 2024.
Buttigieg went off the tracks with this political spin. He should apologize.