The Administration IS Secretly Socialist
Keep Telling Yourself They’re Old and Annoying; Biden and Buttigieg Are Just Solid Labor
Indignation from America’s indignation sector greeted my WIRED interview with Pete Buttigieg six months ago. A satirist described the piece as “Tiger Beat-level fan drivel” and a production of “North Korean State TV.” Someone from National Review did a full-length parody of it.
You never know when trolling will sting and when it won’t, but this time it didn’t. The trolls mostly expressed anxiety about the tone of the piece, and, when I thought about it, I understood their anxiety. I had tried to thread a needle, and convey that Buttigieg’s intelligence is both formidable and, up close, grating. My choice to ladle on the praise, as if Buttigieg were an enchanting young piano-chess prodigy, was an effort to convey the Tracy Flick factor.
At one point in our interview Buttigieg used the word “cheeky,” which I knew would trip wires for readers as annoying. I went back and forth, but ended up leaving the word in so readers could be both bugged and impressed by Buttigieg, the way I was.
Buttigieg’s galactic intelligence—and I stand by my impression of that—can make him hard to warm to, and even tempting to disparage. He might even set off an aggro will to bully in some people, mostly homophobes and right-wingers, and I’m not surprised some of them took out that fury out on me. But we give into the playground meanness at our peril—because Buttigieg really is one of the most effective people in government, and it’s hard to think of a cabinet member, past or present, who has committed so passionately to “vindicating democracy by delivering on the basics,” as he said to me.
(Speaking of tone, I’m noticing mine in this post veering into stuffy and 20th-cent and overly careful right now, and I think that’s because I’m reading Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea. What a weird upsetting book. Does it still have fans?)