Monday, May 20, 2019


Last Friday, Pete Buttigieg was a guest on Hugh Hewitt's radio show. One exchange from that show has received a lot of attention:
HH: ... Let’s go to policy now. A very blunt question, because you talk about going to every Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Indiana when you were running statewide. Should Jefferson-Jackson dinners be renamed everywhere because both were holders of slaves?

PB: Yeah, we’re doing that in Indiana. I think it’s the right thing to do. You know, over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor. And I think we know enough, especially Jackson, you know, you just look at what basically amounts to genocide that happened here. Jefferson’s more problematic. You know, there’s a lot to, of course, admire in his thinking and his philosophy. Then again, as you plunge into his writings, especially the notes on the state of Virginia, you know that he knew that slavery was wrong.

HH: Yes.

PB: And yet, he did it. Now we’re all morally conflicted human beings. And it’s not like we’re blotting him out of the history books, or deleting him from being the founder fathers. But you know, naming something after somebody confers a certain amount of honor. And at a time, I mean, the real reason I think there’s a lot of pressure on this is the relationship between the past and the present, that we’re finding in a million different ways that racism isn’t some curiosity out of the past that we’re embarrassed about but moved on from. It’s alive, it’s well, it’s hurting people. And it’s one of the main reasons to be in politics today is to try to change or reverse the harms that went along with that. Then, we’d better look for ways to live out and honor that principle, even in a symbolic thing.
Notice the setup for that question: "Let’s go to policy now." Doesn't "policy" suggest that Hewitt is about to ask a question about war with Iran or financial regulation or health care? Instead, it's about what Democrats call their intraparty gatherings. Hewitt is such a dishonest person.

Buttigieg gives the right answer: Jackson is a bad guy. Jefferson is, by turns, great and a deeply flawed. In the case of the dinners, can't they be named after someone else? It doesn't tear down the monuments or rewrite the history books. It's just a reconsideration of who deserves to be honored at these events.

Why did Hewitt ask this question? Does he seriously believe this is one of the key issues of the 2020 campaign? No. He thinks it's a useful gotcha for the right-wing character assassination machine.

He's right. On Saturday, the New York Post published this:
Pete Buttigieg wants Thomas Jefferson events and buildings renamed

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg called for everything honoring Thomas Jefferson to be renamed.

“Yeah, we’re doing that in Indiana. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said in a Friday radio interview with conservative host Hugh Hewitt.
"Everything"? That's not what he said. But that's how the right-wing press chews up and spits out nuance.

Cut to last night, when Buttigieg appeared on a Fox News town hall. Of course he was asked about this again -- it's such a burning issue -- and of course his answer was distorted on Fox & Friends this morning:

Brian Kilmeade: "What a clown. Should we really be trying to erase our country's history? Would we be a country without those men we're trying to erase?"

In a follow-up, a guest says says of Buttigieg's opinion on this subject, "it showns how radical the Democratic base has become that this is what constitutes pandering to them."

And for good measure, the main Fox story about the town hall carries this headline:
Buttigieg takes on Trump, pitches four new tax hikes in Fox News Town Hall
And what are the "four new tax hikes"?
On fiscal policy, Buttigieg pushed for four distinct tax hikes when asked about the deficit, saying he favored a "fairer, which means higher" marginal income tax, a "reasonable" wealth tax "or something like that," a financial transactions tax, and closing "corporate tax loopholes."
Not one of these would be paid by the average Fox viewer. But that's the key takeaway from town hall, according to this story.

Democrats, don't do this. Don't prostrate youselves before these bastards. At best, they'll pretend to be civil and then stab you in the back, or set you up to be stabbed in the back by their fellow GOP apparatchiks.

Talking to Republican voters is fine. Many of them may listen respectfully. Some will hear a perspective on the country they've never heard before. Generally speaking, they won't regard it as an opportunity to turn you into a propaganda pinata for the next several days. So do outreach to voters directly -- not through the right-wing press.

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