Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard looked into the eyes of the “Wrath of Buttigieg” last night, and now she’s not long for this world.
Witness what has happened to past Democratic presidential nominees who’ve made the same mistake of tangling with Pete’s superior thinking. Congressman Eric Swalwell tried it first, and his exit from the race couldn’t have followed any faster if he’d taken a swan dive off the dais, landed in Rachel Maddow’s lap and asked to hide in her hair.
Then it was Beto O’Rourke, who’s now recording a Hootie and the Blowfish tribute album in his basement.
Julian Castro went next. Was Julian on stage last night? Nope. Last I heard, he’d grown a beard and is passing himself off as some dude named “Joaquin.”
Tulsi doesn’t strike me as someone who learns from her own mistakes. I wonder if she doesn’t go home at night, write down a list of every strategic blunder she made during the day, then write “TO DO FOR TOMORROW” at the top.
Her self-destructive moves are too long to list here and have been documented plenty just about everywhere else. A few weeks ago, Hillary Clinton got heat for suggesting that the Russians might be cheering on her candidacy. Now, as she was with her “Trump is a Putin puppet” accusation a few years ago, she seems absolutely prescient.
But we did learn one thing from Tulsi last night, aside from the further she gets from the center of the stage the less appealing she becomes. We learned how ready Pete Buttigieg is to debate Donald Trump.
1.) Before going in for the kill, Pete did the honorable thing and let Tulsi hang herself out to dry. The underhanded way in which Tulsi started her attack by complimenting Pete and holding both of them up as the only veterans on the stage, then attacking his inexperience with the inexplicable “you want to send our troops to Mexico!” nonsense could have brought an immediate and irate interruption from the Mayor. Instead, Pete winced momentarily, looked down at his podium, and waited for her to finish. Then he correctly assailed the attack for what it was: the single cheapest trick we’ve seen yet on the 2019 debate stage. By letting her make her entire case, uninterrupted, Pete came off as a statesman who was polite enough to let Tulsi dig herself into a hole of her own making. Today, I imagine Tulsi had wished she’d continue digging.
2.) Pete dismantled an argument while remaining 100% honorable to gender: Remember when the best Trump could do was shake his cotton-candied head and refer to Hillary as a “nasty woman”? Compare that to Pete last night. First, he cogently and fairly called out Tulsi’s remarks as a gross mischaracterization. Next, he turned her lack of experience attack against her by going after her own history with Bashar al Assad, a move Gabbard has yet to explain or defend beyond simply saying she’d “meet with anyone.” Throughout, Pete never once strayed from an attack which focused entirely on Gabbard’s lack of professional judgment, rather than slinging a mud ball that would have served to remind the crowd that he is a man and she is a woman.
3.) Pete can handle unexpected incoming: The composure and quick-thinking Pete demonstrated while taking Tulsi apart was astonishing, even more so considering an attack from her was probably the last thing he was expecting. The response from the audience told the story: not only were they on board with Pete’s arguments, they were also audibly floored at the way he so quickly parried, exposing Tulsi’s siege as a desperate attempt to score camera time by going after the new front runner.
We can only delightfully wait with appetizing glee to see what Pete will do when Donald Trump tries coming at him with one of his half-baked accusations or playground insults that his fevered little brain routinely bakes up.
We all know Trump watched the debate last night. Can you imagine what he’s thinking today?
I can’t say I feel sorry for Tulsi Gabbard, or all the scrambling she’s having to do this morning to re-assure her financial backers and protect the 2% support she can’t seem to grow into anything bigger. Ultimately, she made the fatal mistake that Swalwell, O’Rourke and Castro made before her: she underestimated Pete Buttigieg. I wonder who will be next. With great anticipation, I wonder.