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That's Not What He Said! Mayor Pete / Hillary Clinton Edition
Oh for... no, that's not what he said.
As we mentioned in our piece about Pete Buttigieg's interview on the Morning Joe Coffee Achievers Show of Shows, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, also did an interview with Esquire magazine, published yesterday. And wouldn't you know it, the magazine's choice of a pull quote has led a whole bunch of people on Twitter to decide that Pete Buttigieg shat all over Hillary Clinton and everyone who supported her, so fuck him, that fucking entitled millennial piece of shit.
Twitter being Twitter, there is not a hell of a lot of nuance in the discussion. And that's why Yr Wonkette, just last week, inaugurated what we're afraid will have to be a regular feature during Campaign 2020: "That's Not What She/He Said," in which we take various chunks of the Dems In Disarray Narrative and give 'em a good hosing-down. So let's take a look at the idea that Pete Buttigieg is a snotty terrible man who trashed Hillary Clinton, shall we? We shall!
First up, one of several tweets accusing Buttigieg of just LOVING the glass ceiling and wanting to keep women in their place. (For those keeping score at home, this is actually the position we hope to debunk):
If @PeteButtigieg wants to dump on our historic 2016 nominee - who tried to break a barrier he seeks to keep intact… https: //t.co/0D7wVrhW9t
— Tom Watson (@Tom Watson) 1553096842.0
Gosh, that DOES look terrible! And if it had been all he'd said, then it would be terrible. Except it's a pull quote that pulls the quote right out of any context. Here's the full question, and Buttigieg's answer, and we think the context matters more than a little:
One of the hallmarks of the campaign so far has been a really rich and detailed debate about policy within the Democratic Party. Is that what's important right now? Or should the Democratic Party simply be organized around the simple premise that Donald Trump is a national emergency and must be defeated above all else and that the policy particulars should take a back seat to that?
So actually I don't agree with either of those approaches. The problem with making it all about him is that's what we did in 2016, and when we make it all about him, then there's a lot of voters in places like the industrial midwest, where I live, who say, "Okay, but who's talking about me ?" Part of how we lost our way in 2016 was, first of all, it was all about our own nominee. "I'm with her," was literally the button.
Then when we realized who the Republican nominee was going to be, the message became, "Don't vote for him." And we just left a lot of people out because it didn't seem like we were talking about the lived experience of Americans.
For the same reason I don't think that we should do the usual Democratic thing, which is experiencing your competition through competing policy proposals. I think that policy matters, I'm a policy guy. But I think that you need our altitude to be both higher and lower. Higher in the sense that I think we need to talk about values and principles, that's why I'm out there talking about what freedom and democracy and security mean before we get into the depth of any policy idea. And at the same time also be talking in terms that are nearer to the ground, really explaining what we believe in in terms of everyday lived experience and how different under us it will be than under them. And that's how good political narrative works.
So the context is not "Why do you hate Hillary Clinton and all the women who supported her," but rather "should Democrats focus on the threat of Donald Trump to the exclusion of all else?" AND ALSO "what should the role of policy arguments be in this election?" It's rather a lot. Notice that, in the discussion of how much to focus on Trump, most of his answer is about why making that the sole focus would be a bad idea. The bit about "I'm with her" is hardly the main point, but there it is, highlighted BY ESQUIRE in both the pull-quote (worse, in the middle of an unrelated question) and the freaking subhed, as if slagging Hillary had been Buttigieg's whole reason for doing the interview.
To be sure, it's not a completely unproblematic remark -- Clinton's campaign truly was historic, and "I'm with her" wasn't merely about a cult of personality, but about women identifying with, yes, her -- and what she stood for. So sure, that definitely WAS talking about the lived experience of a hell of a lot of Americans -- who were happy to give Clinton the popular vote, not incidentally. But it's also very worth noting that Buttigieg was answering a question about whether focusing on Trump should be a Democratic strategy, and for the most part, that's what he was talking about.
We're pretty sure Pete Buttigieg does not hate Hillary Clinton, or women, and this whole Twitter blowup seems like a good chance to remind y'all of Hillary's OTHER campaign slogan: "STRONGER TOGETHER."
Yes, we like utopian dreams.
[ Esquire ]
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