The Outstater: Buttigieg’s ‘Shortest Way Home’

January 10, 2020

PETE BUTTIGIEG, the pluperfect modern avatar-like demographically fashioned hero, is making a credible run for president of the United States partly on his frequent mention of the courage and character needed in a combat zone. There is a strong inference of combat experience.

Fortunately for those interested in the facts, the South Bend mayor’s military service is reviewed in this week’s Wall Street Journal under the headline, “Buttigieg’s War and ‘The Shortest Way Home.’” Let’s just say that record is honorable, even commendable, but unimpressive:

“Mr. Buttigieg spent some five months in Afghanistan, where he writes that he remained less busy than he had been at City Hall, with ‘more time for reflection and reading than I was used to back home.’ He writes that he would take ‘a laptop and a cigar up to the roof at midnight to pick up a Wi-Fi signal and patch via Skype into a staff meeting at home.’ The closest he came to combat was ferrying other staffers around in a SUV: In his campaign kickoff speech last April he referred to ‘119 trips I took outside the wire, driving or guarding a vehicle.’ That’s a strange thing to count. Combat sorties in an F-18 are carefully logged. Driving a car isn’t.”

We are talking about a politician here and not a regular veteran so the phoniness bar is lower. One couldn’t help but wince, though, when Buttigieg turned to an opponent in the October Democratic primary debate and snapped, “I don’t need lessons from you on courage.”

Later he would lecture Sen. Amy Klobuchar on his relationship to the Constitution: “I raised my right hand and swore to defend (it) with my life. That is my experience, and it may not be the same as yours, but it counts, Senator, it counts.”

More politically than militarily, as it turns out.

— Craig Ladwig


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