At a recent rally-slash-personal therapy session in Pennsylvania, one of President Donald J. Trump’s 37 personalities emerged from a Thorazine coma and name-checked Pete Buttigieg on stage in what was an addled hodgepodge of mutterings, half-thoughts, and wet-lipped gumming, presumably meant to be an insult.
“You have Alfred E. Neuman who’s running, he’s like…. this guy, this guy, Buttigieg. BOOT… EDGE… EDGE. Can you believe he’s doing well? He’s like the leading fundraiser… I dream about him.”
It was a rare instance where DJT mentioned the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, though comparing him to Alfred E. Neuman, the gappy-toothed face of humor magazine MAD wasn’t new. Trump squeezed out the same feeble bean of an insult this past spring. And to the surprise of no one who’s been paying attention, Pete needed no time to respond in kind.
“I’ll be honest: I had to Google that. I guess it’s a generational thing. I didn’t get the reference.”
Pete hurled even more shade on Trump during an appearance on The Tonight Show: “You know, we talk a lot about elevating the dialogue, so I guess the fact that I inspired him to make a literary reference, possibly for the first time…”
Pete didn’t even have to finish that dunk on Trump. There was already too much laughter in the room for anyone to hear.
Like you, at this very moment, I am dreaming of a Buttigieg-Trump fight.
And if the president is dreaming of taking on Pete Buttigieg in a general election campaign as he claims, then I have finally found with him some common ground. My mind drifts to happy places whenever I imagine Pete Buttigieg challenging Trump on policy, Pete Buttigieg challenging Trump on national unification, Pete Buttigieg challenging Trump on constitutional aspirations… or military interventions… or dictators… or climate change.
Not to mention…. methane emission, pesticides, human rights, animal rights, marital fidelity, how to throw a baseball, state capitals, spelling, multiplication, names of body parts, vegetable identification, table manners, the sale price for Greenland, lyrics to the National Anthem and how a toilet works.
I understand it’s good and right to declare this long and drawn out fight for the Democratic nomination a way test the mettle of those vying for it. Former President Barack Obama himself said his protracted battle with Secretary Hillary Clinton served to make him a far stronger and resilient candidate once he secured the nomination of his party.
Still, when I drift my eyes away from whatever book is currently sitting in my lap to the dormant December trees outside my Oregon window, I long for the Iowa caucuses of February and the political starting gun they represent. I feel more confident with each day that Pete will win the nomination and, like Obama, emerge a stronger and savvier political mind for the work he is putting in every day, right now, for all of us.
I grin in private satisfaction at the craterous depths of bluster and blundering Trump will inevitably stoop to as he attempts to prop himself up as even a remotely viable alternative to Pete Buttigieg, who has spent so much of his adult life in commitment to serving his fellow man and protecting our Republic, with and without gun in hand.
As the puny Alfred E. Neuman barb makes clear, Trump doesn’t have the brain or imagination needed to effectively fight Pete. And as he’s cleared his administration of all free-thinkers and replaced them with sycophants, lapdogs and an Attorney General who will do anything in exchange for a single mackerel tossed to him daily, it’s doubtful anyone else in the Trump clubhouse is up for it either.
And I haven’t even mentioned the debates yet. Pete has proved to be a more lethal force each time he takes the stage, thwarting Tulsi Gabbard, shutting down Beto, challenging Elizabeth Warren. And it’s important to remember in these instances, Pete went after no one until they came looking for him. And when he did, he dispatched them readily all the while maintaining the dignity and peace of mind we’d hope for in a leader. As for Trump, well let’s face it… he was basically able to skate through 2016. Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz… not exactly paragons of charisma and verbal gymnastics. And while I love Hillary as a politician, she didn’t have the years of perfecting reality host shtick that Trump had under his belt (And I apologize for making you think about Trump’s belt area).
Pete has an intellectual span that keeps him on point for anything thrown at him. Meanwhile, Trump’s playbook for vanquishing opponents runs about as long as the nutritional chart on a gum wrapper. He doesn’t understand current events. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t listen. He’s run the wheels off calling things a “disgrace” to the point where no one hears it anymore. Plus, he sniffles into the microphone like an aging bloodhound trying to find the water bowl that’s sitting right in front of him.
Yes, I dream about Pete Buttigieg just as much as Donald Trump does. I am ready for a young, vibrant, forward-thinker who values conscience and mind over dollars and news cycles, who will represent America in all of its parts and peoples, and who longs to serve because service actually fulfills him. Yes, I dream of Buttigieg versus Trump. It will be a battle between the pensive and the puerile. The visionary and the vacuous. The wunderkind and the witless. Yoda and Urkel.
What a wonderful year 2020 will be.