During last night’s Democratic Party presidential primary debate, the surging Pete Buttigieg delivered a snide aside that would be headline-grabbing were it not merely part of a continuous line of attack. Discussing electability concerns in a back-and-forth with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Buttigieg, the rather neglectful mayor of shoddily managed South Bend, Indiana, quipped: “If you want to talk about the capacity to win, try putting together a coalition to bring you back to office with 80% of the vote, as a gay dude in Mike Pence’s Indiana.”
The implication, of course, is that the vice president of the United States — a Christian who takes his faith seriously — is somehow openly hostile to homosexuals. Even worse, it seems Buttigieg believes Pence, a former Indiana governor, was able to inculcate and disseminate such a viciously homophobic atmosphere throughout the Hoosier State during his gubernatorial tenure such that Buttigieg’s political rise was made much more difficult as a result.
These allegations, as Buttigieg’s Democratic presidential primary rival Joe Biden might put it, are malarkey. But the notion that Mike Pence is a homosexual-loathing troglodyte is more pernicious than that, too. Buttigieg’s nonstop bashing of Pence evinces a serious character flaw in the mayor. And it is shameful, to boot.
Buttigieg’s jihad against Pence is nothing new. Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro dedicated a National Review column over eight months ago to decrying Buttigieg’s “bad-faith attack” on Pence. At the time, Buttigieg’s verbal fusillade against the sitting vice president “betray[ed] a fundamental misunderstanding of religious people [in] suggest[ing] that their belief in the immorality of certain sexual behavior reflects animus for those who engage in that sexual behavior,” Ben wrote. And as Erick Erickson and many other conservative Christian commentators have argued, Buttigieg’s cloaking himself under the veneer of Scripture to try to justify his invariably non-justifiable policy stances is intellectually disingenuous.
Buttigieg’s self-serving distortions of biblical verses to defend his progressive social crusades — chiefly, abortion-on demand until birth and the civilizational redefinition of marriage so as to delink sexual complementary — is itself malicious toward those religious Christians and Jews who (properly) read the Bible as supporting contrary policy positions. But the deeply personal nature of his ceaseless singling out of Pence, in particular, is uniquely off-putting. There is no rational reason whatsoever for Buttigieg to care this much about Pence, who has never publicly spoken of Buttigieg with anything other than dignity and charity.
At its core, Buttigieg’s insatiable desire to invoke Pence as a bogeyman for all his woes reveals a proclivity for dishonesty and profound cynicism. Mike Pence is simply not an individual who should occupy such an outsized space in Pete Buttigieg’s head; on the contrary, there are many of us social conservatives with long enough memories to remember how poorly then-Governor Pence handled Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) “controversy” back in 2015. Pence’s dithering on Indiana’s RFRA and seeming willingness to appease the left-wing secularist mob by conceding the premise that portions of RFRA might somehow be “anti-gay” was not exactly an impressive demonstration of conservative mettle.
But Buttigieg has no use for any facts about Mike Pence. The South Bend mayor is happy to straw man to his heart’s content in order to make his political rise look more impressive than it actually is — and for what we can only assume is the inherent “joy” of smearing an upstanding man, to boot. It is a sad, petty, and bitter exercise.
Buttigieg may get a sick and twisted pleasure from all of this. But rational Americans can, and will, see it for what it is: Shameful.