A Word About Pete Buttigieg

I met @PeteButtigieg last October at an inter-municipal conference in Detroit. I had heard gushing reviews about him previously, but assumed that the accolades were partially hype. I was wrong.

Seated around a large table with about forty other city leaders, including mayors of some of the largest cities in America, Buttigieg was the absolute stand-out. Every comment he made was thoughtful, relevant, responsive to the flow of the conversation, never contrived or prepackaged. He commanded the room with quiet confidence and without a hint of bluster or arrogance. I doubt anyone present had the slightest difficulty imagining him in the Oval Office.

Buttigieg’s resume is almost comically over-stuffed: Rhodes Scholar, veteran of Afghanistan, fluent in eight languages, concert pianist, author, accomplished municipal executive. And although it seems an odd word to apply to the youngest candidate in the field, Buttigieg strikes me as more mature than most of his rivals. Beyond mastering the details of public policy, he roots his positions and statements in a fully-developed, coherent worldview that is clearly the product of deep and original thought about the nature of our country and its challenges.

Buttigieg would be a formidable candidate in the general election, a stark contrast to Trump in every regard, and yet someone who won’t fall into the Trump playbook of schoolyard bullying. Buttigieg’s language and manner are relatable, persuasive, and elevating, and in our present toxic and exhausting political environment, his calm and warm rationality comes as an almost physical relief.

The Democratic field is shaping up to be the largest in history. Personally, I find all of the candidates at least acceptable (relative to the incumbent), and I could be enthusiastic about several of them, but only one has knocked my socks off. When we have an opportunity to elect as President someone so talented and so ideally suited to the moment, shouldn’t we take it?