Sneaky Pete, Flimflam Graham and the Sad State of Politics
A story on Yahoo News caught my attention the other day. Jerome Cartillier, writing for AFP (the Agence France-Presse), noticed a troubling trend in President Trump’s Twitter account. No, not the usual complaint about how Trump is intemperate or self-destructive or otherwise badly served by his politically incorrect political commentary. This was different.
What Cartillier pointed out is that Trump had yet to peg Mayor Pete with a nickname as successful as “Sleepy Joe” Biden or “Mini Mike” Bloomberg or Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren.
Personally, I am fond of Trump’s comparison of Buttigieg to Mad magazine’s unflappable mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, but Cartillier is right that the audience for that allusion is limited to us old-timers. (OK Boomer!) The headline on the story summed up its premise as “Just 'Mayor Pete'? — Trump struggles for killer nickname.”
Well, I’m willing to lend the president a hand in exposing Buttigieg to the scrutiny he deserves. Buttigieg is “Sneaky” Pete, a man in search of an identity, or more accurately, a man in disguise as he tries to work his way up from small-town mayor to presidential contender. It’s not exactly a nickname, but the Peter Principle also sums up Buttigieg nicely. He’s a man intent on rising to the level of his own incompetence.
So why “Sneaky” Pete? It doesn’t hurt that Sneaky Pete is 1950s slang for “cheap wine” because with Buttigieg you always get the feeling you are looking at a $10 imitation Rolex, not the real thing. Does anyone really know who Buttigieg is? He seems like he came out of central casting rather than northern Indiana. And as the mayor of South Bend, Buttigieg left a trail of unfulfilled promises and the stench of politics as usual.
Moreover, it’s not just conservatives such as myself who have doubts about Sneaky Pete. His fellow Democrats have questioned whether he is what he claims to be — a pure-as-Bernie progressive who will deliver health care reform, reparations for slavery, an open border, and free college. After all, he spent three years after his own college education at Harvard and Oxford working for McKinsey & Co., which is touted as the world’s largest management consulting firm. That makes him more akin to Mitt Romney than Karl Marx. A South Bend liberal activist named Nate Levin-Aspenson said, “It’s kind of a mercenary thing to do that doesn’t reflect any personal priority beyond career advancement.”
You’ve probably met the type before — the clean-cut, well-groomed 20-something in a suit and tie at work but smoking weed at home and plotting to get to the next rung on the corporate ladder while playing “Call of Duty 4.” Galloping radical pragmatism unbridled by conscience is how I would describe it. Others might call it narcissistic mimicry. The point, in either case, is that what you get is not what you see. There’s some kind of elaborate deception at the core of Sneaky Pete, buried so deep that even he may be unaware of it.
Take a look at his record on race. Yeah, he’s for slavery reparations and criminal justice reform now, but what about the eight years when he was mayor? Arrests of blacks for marijuana possession jumped under his leadership. The black fire chief was replaced and the black police chief was demoted. Few blacks had any major roles in the South Bend city administration while he was mayor. Here’s what one black city councilman, Henry Davis Jr., had to say:
“My time working with Mayor Buttigieg was — at best, it was contentious. It was very difficult to get across to him, and also to his administration, how African Americans were living in South Bend.”
Wow! We’re talking about a city that is one-quarter African American. If Sneaky Pete had a hard time seeing them, what guarantee is there that he will see anyone in the electorate when he is going to have to crane his neck a mile to see past his own huge ambition.
Buttigieg is hardly the only politician to present a false face to his constituents and supporters. On the Republican side of the aisle, at some point we need to account for Lindsey Graham, who has adopted the chameleon as his unofficial totem animal. How exactly, in the course of a few weeks in 2018, did “Flimflam” Graham transition from BFF of Sen. John McCain to the trained pet monkey of President Trump, McCain’s sworn enemy? Whoever answers that question correctly ought to be enshrined in the Oedipal Hall of Fame alongside Freud and Hamlet.
Graham’s peculiar duality did not conclude with his pirouette from Swamp Croc McCain to Trump’s revenge-minded Captain Hook. From week to week Graham demonstrates a staggering lack of awareness of his own inconstancy while the rest of us marvel at the living embodiment of Kris Kristofferson’s “Pilgrim” — “a walking contradiction, partly fact and partly fiction/ … He keeps right on a-changin’ for the better or the worse/ Searchin’ for a shrine he’s never found/ Never knowing if believin’ is a blessin’ or a curse/ Or if the goin’ up was worth the comin’ down/ … There’s a lotta wrong directions on that lonely way back home.”
Just one recent example will suffice. Two weekends ago, Graham appeared Saturday night on “Justice With Judge Jeanine” and announced that he wanted to get to the bottom of the plot against Donald Trump.
“We’re not going to live in a world where as a Republican you get investigated from the day you get sworn in,” he said. “Here’s what we should look at. Why did the State Department not act when they were told about the conflict of interest with Hunter Biden regarding the Ukraine? Who is the whistleblower? Does he have contacts on Schiff’s staff? Did Col. Vindman leak information to the whistleblower? And as for the FISA warrant, how could you sign the warrant four times and not know the whole thing was off the rails?”
Yet, come Sunday morning when Flimflam Graham appeared on “Face the Nation” with Margaret Brennan, he was whistling another tune. He was all about not overstepping our bounds, don’t get ahead of our skis, let’s just think about this before we do anything rash…
What happened in between? Rudy Giuliani.
Giuliani had a guest spot on Fox News that same Saturday night, and actually produced evidence that incriminated the Bidens, Joe and Hunter, and suggested that the president was entirely justified in investigating Ukrainian corruption involving Burisma Holdings.
Giuliani cited what he called “smoking gun” evidence of a Burisma money-laundering scheme that involves Latvia as well as Ukraine and was under investigation by Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin of Ukraine just before he was ordered fired by Joe Biden. “We’ve got the documents,” Giuliani told host Jesse Watters. “It’s called corroboration.”
Smoking guns be damned! On “Face the Nation,” Graham demurred from actually looking at the evidence Giuliani has collected, and instead threw shade on America’s Mayor as a gullible dupe of the Russians.
“Here’s what I want to tell the president. I’m not going to be the Republican Christopher Steele. So Rudy Giuliani last night said he has the goods on Hunter Biden. I called the attorney general this morning and Richard Burr, the chairman of the Intel Committee, and they told me, ‘Take very cautiously anything coming out of the Ukraine against anybody,’ so what I will do is I will get to the bottom of how the FISA warrant system failed and make sure we reform it. … I think questions about the conflict of interest regarding Hunter Biden and the Ukraine need to be asked. The State Department had warnings and they ignored the conflict of interest. The whistleblower episode needs to be investigated by Richard Burr, but if Rudy Giuliani has any information coming out of the Ukraine, he needs to turn it over to the Department of Justice because it could be Russian propaganda.”
This is wrong in so many ways that it’s hard to know where to begin. Flimflam Graham apparently has realized that all his big talk has led some people to expect him to actually do something about the Deep State corruption that resulted in a coup attempt against the president. So on Margaret Brennan’s weekly anger therapy session, he was planting the seeds he will use to justify his lack of action in the coming months.
Graham seriously went to Richard Burr for advice? Everyone knows that Burr’s committee is where evidence of Democratic corruption goes to die. Graham is worried that information coming out of the Ukraine could be Russian propaganda? Doesn’t Graham have an obligation to inspect it for himself and come to an independent conclusion? In the wake of the Justice Department’s complicity in the Russia Hoax, does anyone really think it is appropriate to rely on the next Rod Rosenstein or Sally Yates to verify documents that might vindicate the president and expose Democratic wrongdoing?
Lindsey, you’re not going to be the Republican Christopher Steele; you’re going to be the Republican Adam Schiff — closing your eyes to evidence that might clear the president and almost certainly would incriminate the Bidens.
Such duplicity is the sad state of politics in America in the early 21st century, which explains why President Trump — the most authentic politician since Teddy Roosevelt — is taking names and kicking butt.
Meanwhile, the American public is enjoying the greatest show on earth. Neither impeachment, nor Fake News, nor the Deep State Swamp shall keep the president from his appointed rounds of raising Cain and taking on all comers. As “Give ’em Hell” Harry Truman said many years ago in an expression that inarguably suits Donald Trump even better, “I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell.”