DANIEL VAUGHAN: Pete Buttigieg is the worst Transportation Secretary in US history

 February 24, 2023

I've met and have friends across the political spectrum. When it comes to my Democratic friends, I can understand why some of them are supporters of Elizabeth Warren. She's got a distinct style, political beliefs, and policy desires. I get why Bernie Sanders supporters exist. There's new support for socialism in the younger generation. I even get why Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have supporters, even if you couldn't find them before 2020.

But for the life of me, I cannot understand why any person calls themselves a supporter of Pete Buttigieg. If the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles got remade, it'd be about how Pete Buttigieg couldn't get any of them to run on time. People would wish to get their day wrecked by John Candy rather than endure Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg fixing anything.

I wrote in December, as Buttigieg fumbled through the Southwest flight implosion, "Being Secretary of Transportation is a little like being an offensive lineman or a referee in the NFL. You're in trouble if everyone knows your name." Once again, in East Palestine, Pennsylvania, everyone is reminded of Pete Buttigieg. This time, it's a rail disaster.

Stumbling and fumbling to infamy.

Matthew Continetti penned a column at the Washington Free Beacon eviscerating Buttigieg. He listed all the disasters under Buttigieg's watch:

In 2021 he went on paternity leave despite supply chain bottlenecks and negotiations over the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In the summer of 2022 he went on vacation to Portugal as rail workers threatened to strike. He was out of his depth last December when Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights and scrambled holiday travel plans. In January the Federal Aviation Administration halted air traffic due to a computer glitch. Buttigieg was caught unawares.

And now we get to East Palestine, where a train derailment sent toxic fumes into the air, ground, and water. Buttigieg has now rushed to the town to counter Donald Trump's arrival. It's another stark reminder that when people were in need, Buttigieg never considered showing up for them. His only consideration is politics.

As anger builds in East Palestine, Pete Buttigieg offers "hope" to citizens there. He reminded them that rail derailments happen every year. And he stood in front of people, clad in safety goggles, a vest, and a helmet to act as if he was in charge of the situation. He's admitted now that he could have "spoken up sooner."

Buttigieg whines to Politico.

But these people aren't important to Buttigieg. Nor is the disaster unfolding before him or those in the past. No, it's not Buttigieg's failures that baffle him. It's the fact that he's not getting the credit he believes he deserves.

Buttigieg and his allies are running to Poltico to bellyache over the criticisms they're taking. "Pete Buttigieg has taken a lot of bullets for the president on this," is a genuine quote Politco got from a "Senior Democrat."

The piece continued, "Three people in Buttigieg's orbit admit to being exasperated by the furor, saying nobody asked him about the derailment in any of the 23 media interviews he conducted during the first 10 days after the accident. Then critics lambasted him for not speaking sooner."

It's the media's fault for not asking Buttigieg about the disaster. Someone needs to remind Buttigieg he's a government official with a press secretary. He can issue a press statement or make a speech whenever he wants. Listening to Buttigieg and his allies complain to Politico - and Buttigieg is undoubtedly one of Politico's sources for that piece - you're left with the conclusion that he's as out of touch as Prince Harry.

The Irish satire site Waterford Whispers wrote a headline titled, "Prince Harry Shown How To Use Phone After Stating He Wants Father & Brother Back." Maybe someone in the Biden administration can teach Mayor Pete how to use a telephone or write a tweet.

Buttigieg's failures impact real people, not consultant charts.

It's not that Pete Buttigieg is bad at optics - he's terrible at his job. You only get the optics if you can do the job. Buttigieg's only real experience is working as a consultant at McKinsey. Given how little he's capable of in his current position, one suspects that all he did at McKinsey was help organize conference calls and provide a dial-in number. He probably called that work "mediate communications between key stakeholders" to sound more professional.

I'm taking shots here because Buttigieg is allegedly a "front-runner" for the White House to replace Joe Biden. Pete Buttigieg couldn't replace the janitor for his own office. These are legitimate crises that demand action. The fact that he has a fan club is an indictment of the options beyond Biden in the Democratic Party. Pete Buttigieg can't run the Transportation Department. What makes anyone think he's ready for prime time in the White House?

Crisis events like East Palestine are like natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes. If you're a politician in charge, you will face them. Pete Buttigieg is one of the first people in a position of authority to be shocked he might have to solve problems and provide answers for people in a disaster. That's disqualifying.

But the first clue that Buttigieg is a lousy Transportation Secretary is that naming him as head of that job is now an easy trivia question. That's not a place you want to be if you've got political ambitions. Nor if you're suffering from the disasters Buttigieg is supposed to help solve.

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