The Agonizing Imperfection of Pete Buttigieg

So talented yet so vulnerable — like all the leading contenders for the Democratic nomination.

Comments: 224

  1. I hear you, Frank. I’m torn over Buttigieg, too. Mayor Pete comes across as calm and in-control, as a quality person, and his intelligence always shines through. His platform is progressive and responsible, yet he does not come across as extremist or an ideologue. But even the best agenda is DOA in D.C. if the next president, who will most likely have a divided Congress, is not well-versed in legislation. And Buttigieg is probably not visceral enough to win a general election, particularly against the dirty fighter incumbent. Pete Buttigieg is adding a lot to the primary. Hopefully, he will make enough of a name for himself to go on and win a Congressional seat - after that, maybe the White House will be in sight.

  2. Pete is a remarkable over-achiever but he is the figurative Tracy Enid Flick for 2020. You don't get any sense that he is running or indeed doing anything in his life that was not part of a vision board or a ten year plan - Harvard - check Rhodes - check Combat experience - check McKinsey - check. I hope he comes back when he has done something amazing in his city or his state - my biggest concern is that he is not capable of anything great.

  3. @SteveRR My impression as well. While more qualified than Trump (but who in the field isn't), I think he needs experience on a bigger stage than South Bend and is certainly one to watch after he gets it.

  4. @SteveRR Oh, but the other democratic candidates have shown themselves to be capable of such greatness! Pete’s 37 and has already produced many achievements, South Bend’s transformation being one of them. He’s shown himself to be a steady, clear-minded problem-solver with good judgment and progressive but pragmatic instincts. Not to mention ethical. I’m not sure what your real problem with Pete is, but your concerns seem no more grounded in facts than Bruni’s are.

  5. "Agonizing"? He has the temperament, experience and character to lead the country, and he would take us past the "culture wars" and other nonsense that tars the "older" candidates. I recall when the nation turned to JFK because he offered "vigor" - energy and dynamism to lead us into a new era. If we're going to save the climate, ensure health care for all and - maybe most important - heal the nation, we need someone with his (1) qualifications, (2) energy and (3) spirit of respect and healing.

  6. @Patrick Hirigoyen Amen. We need some new blood, and an optimistic perspective. No more fake 'American carnage'!

  7. So the Democrats don't have a perfect candidate - one that checks all the boxes, but which of them checks more than Buttigieg? Obama was older but didn't have much DC experience either. Biden has years and years and years of experience and the years to prove it. But he's slow on the uptake, not sharp in his answers, and just doesn't seem up to the task. Anyway, I'll take any of them.

  8. @lucysky Not sharp in his answers?? Why, because you actually have to listen and absorb and think?? Sheesh. We still don't learn the lesson from "electing" a criminal "reality" TV "star" with no substance. And you blame blame intelligence for being... intelligent. As if it is a flaw. How sad.

  9. @Matthew How did I blame "intelligence for being intelligent"? I like Mayor Pete because he is intelligent. Very intelligent. I don't think Biden is unintelligent, but I think it's inarguable that he can't seem to respond quickly and usually not well. When he debated Paul Ryan, he was much better than he is now.

  10. Beto O’Rourke is the most over-looked and underrated candidate. I wish the press would give him fair and unbiased treatment. He would make a phenomenal president. And he’s 47!

  11. @Dr. Heidi The press has it's marching orders Whack whichever Democrat is in the lead as hard as they can to clear the deck for a second term

  12. Once again, Bruni’s writing is clear and well structured in a manner that articulates exactly what he’s thinking. Buttigieg does seem like a dream candidate. While it’s unlikely he will get the nomination, it would be a very pleasant surprise, and one whereby nearly all of the Democrats could imagine getting behind. What I like about his points of view is that while I might not agree with him on all of his policies, I believe that the way he has conceived and formulated them is thorough, thoughtful and considerate. This approach makes me believe he has the best of intentions and that he is working honestly for the American people.

  13. Pass the torch. I'm with Pete!

  14. @Brad Pete and Andrew Yang. They both are thinkers and doers. No baggage to speak of. Sign me up.

  15. OMG what a waste of time. Don't you have anything better to do, Bruni? Buttigieg is perfect. Smart. Honorable. But he is trailing in the polls so far back as to make this op-ed ridiculous. So I'd re-cast that headline "The Agonizing Imperfection of Frank Bruni. So talented yet so vulnerable". Yes, better.

  16. @Matthew While Buttigieg has a lot of fancy degrees from fancy universities, he's missing the most important one: A law degree. As we're seeing now, having someone who is clueless about how the Constitution and legal system work, is likely to not fully understand his obligations as President. Harvard Law has had an informal motto which has existed for at least 50 years "All of our graduates are ready to be Presidents". Barack Obama was too much of a corporate-Democrat for my taste, but I have to praise him for not making a single major "legal" mistake. Lyndon B. Johnson realized, when he was in the House, that he needed a legal education to excel at legislating. He joined Georgetown Law School's night law school problem and lasted for two years, before he got so busy that he had to drop out. One thing Johnson did well was NOT appoint wackos to the U.S. Supreme Court or U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal. If Buttigieg seriously wants to be considered "top class" as a Democrat candidate for higher office, he needs to go to law school like Johnson did. I'm sure Notre Dame Law School, located next to the city where he's Mayor, South Bend, would be happy to add an extra chair to its classrooms to fit him in.

  17. @Big Al Oh, and Trump has a law degree?

  18. @Big Al Harvard should revise its informal motto, having graduated Ted Cruz. As for your "requirement" of a law degree, of the post-WWII presidents, neither of the Bushes, Reagan, Carter, LBJ, JFK, Eisenhower, or Truman had one. Nixon did, and we all know how that turned out.

  19. I'm a full supporter of Pete Buttigieg. He is in President Obama's league. How is it that he creates calm and trust in just about everyone if he is too young and inexperienced? I'm a 57 year old woman from the Midwest and he has exactly what we need and understands exactly what the average person is like and what we want. He is the most Presidential of all the candidates and I can see him sitting behind that desk in the oval office thoughtfully thinking the most difficult situations through. No more ranting and raving from either party. No more my way or the highway. No more their the enemy no their the enemy no their the enemy. He sees a united America doing it's best to proceed into a better future.

  20. Agree. I am a 50 year old white woman. The first time I heard him speak I was driving home from work. I almost had to pull over I was crying and the tears were making it hard to see. Sometimes I still get teary when I hear him. He is so calming and inspiring. I now proudly drive my cars with Pete bumper stickers while wearing my Pete shirt. I have never donated to a campaign before this nor have I ever had candidate swag.

  21. @Connie I met my 23 year old daughter to see him announce his presidential run. A couple of times during his speech I had to stop myself from bursting into tears, which is not really my personality. His calmness is like a manna from political heaven.

  22. @Laurie Rizzolo I agree that Pete Buttigieg is in President Obama's league, especially when one considers the huge task our next President will have to make peace out of the turmoil that has been tearing apart our form of government. Our next President will need the character, compassion, and brains to get our government back in working order. Political experience doesn't necessarily nurture these qualities. Some politicians never had them in the first place. Just look around at the many very experienced politicians who have none of them. Our next President will need to have the ability to make responsible, knowledgable decisions and to encourage compromise to regain the respect of the global community. Pete Buttigieg could be this kind of President.

  23. Choosing between whichever "8" gets to run against the literal "0" is not an issue I'm going to agonize over If he wins, he's got my vote

  24. @Marion Grace Merriweather Why not vote for him such that he wins ;)

  25. @Marion Grace Merriweather You might not agonize, and he might have your vote. but you are not the only one who will be voting in the election.

  26. Buttigieg does not come across as a fighter. And the left needs a fighter. Against DT, and against neo liberalism. Pete wants to be everything to everybody. And that is just not the type of person I am going to vote for. He needs to show he is willing to politically put his body on the line. Being nice isn't going to cut it.

  27. [email protected] I would disagree about Buttigieg not being a fighter. He's a good listener and I like the phrase "silent but deadly". Fortunately we know he's not silent but instead just as articulate as he is attentive . And he's openly gay! That's courage in and of itself, especially when he becomes the nominee. Trump's base will be his worst tormentors, making the "lock her up chants seems innocent". And I'm certain he knows that. I'd say he's ready for a fight, and I imagine he'll get appropriately louder as 2020 arrives. Sometimes young people are born with old souls giving them the wisdom that comes around too late for most of us, or not at all in the current administration's case. I'm all for this young guy.

  28. I'm 72, a lifelong progressive, and I really like Buttigieg for this role, if not now, then in 2024. He's the most thoughtful, kind, even wise candidate on that stage. If he should be nominated, he would have my vote without hesitation. (I'm also good with a Warren-Buttigieg ticket.)

  29. @glaudeave Warren-Buttigieg is my dream combo.

  30. @glaudeave How can anyone be for Buttigieg and also be for Warren? The two of them are so entirely opposite. Pete is honest, trustworthy, eloquent, responsive, sincere, thoughtful, well spoken, humble and never acts like a "hectoring know-it-all" despite his broad education and life experience. Enough said.

  31. @glaudeave I too and 72 and agree completely with your assessment accept I say the sooner the better for Pete. He can lead - he doesn't have to play second fiddle to any of the current democrat field.

  32. I'd certainly vote for him. And if he doesn't get the nomination, he'd make the best running mate. 8 years as veep and he'd be 45--just right.

  33. If you remember, Obama did not have a ton of national experience when he ran for President. He did have a term in the Senate but much of his political experience was not in national politics. If Buttigieg continues to campaign, I would look forward to knowing something about whom he would choose to work with in the oval office if elected. No President works in a vacuum.

  34. One more liberal cutting off his nose to spite his face. To paraphrase my mother - if you can’t write something nice, don’t write.

  35. Mayor Pete remains me of Obama in that he absolutely loves to hear himself speak and no more so as when he is in full moral condescension mode. In terms of actual accomplishments, well... let's be honest, if he was a 37 straight white male mayor of South Bend no one in the Democratic Party would give him the time of day.

  36. @Chris I disagree. He went to war for his country which is more then 99.9999 percent of the people in this country have done.

  37. @Adam Ben-david And we can salute him for that - but what has he done other than marry a man that makes white liberals swoon? He does continue to sit there waiting for the final Biden implosion - is he the "moderate" option vs the two socialist democrats? The guy is certainly smart but frankly Andrew Yang seems to have a deeper understanding of the tectonic changes in the economy than Pete.

  38. Take a fresh look at Steve Bullock, for VP with Warren or Biden, or even president if the current leaders fade.

  39. What about a Warren/Buttigieg ticket? He'd get the extra seasoning he needs and could provide a foil for some of those who don't like Warren. She' s a strong personality who could deal with the old white men in the Senate...particularly McConnell and Graham. That ticket would cover a lot of voters in the country. People need to remember that candidates for high office often make exaggerated claims as to what they are going to do if elected. Reality and compromise will temper those. We need leaders who will fight for the 99% instead of the 1%, corporations, big banks and Wall Street. They will.

  40. Honestly the only ones of the "Top 5" I'd vote for in a primary are Buttigieg and Warren. Sanders has a lot of good ideas but I'd rather him either as a Senator or in a cabinet position. Harris has a lot of guts and prosecutororial gumption, but at times feels like she's going TOO HARD with her gut and not thinking through her actions, and her stances seem to be filled with false bravado. Biden isn't as "old and busted" as people claim he is, but nor is he the same guy that ran with Obama.

  41. You're talking about Democratic "imperfection" with that misbegotten cretin in the WH? Seriously??

  42. Mr. Bruni, you did everything you could to help elect George W. Bush Jr, in 200. Now you are trying to reelect Trump. So much for impartial journalism. Shame on you !

  43. "He sounds like a President" is something you hear people say about Buttigieg. I would have no problem voting for him. I think he would make a great President. In any case, I'm hoping Pres. Warren appoints him SecState or UN Ambassador.

  44. Biden will falter because of GOP demonization, Warren will fall because too many folks don't think she can win. Buttiigieg should get the nomination because he is a centrist who can appeal to red state voters. He also the smartest, most even-keeled candidate. He may not get the nomination because of blacks' affinity for Biden. They might stay home on election day even though Trump is our most racist president since Woodrow Wilson, who was a blatant racist.

  45. @Historical Facts "Warren will falter because too many folks don't think she can win." ? Seriously, how many thought trump could win back in 2016. Maybe you should pay attention to what Elizabeth says and how people who see her react and a little less attention to what other people tell you about her. You really don't want to look foolish 13 months from now.

  46. I'm a Buttigieg supporter for all the reasons that you have cited. But aside from his age, I'm not sure that Middle America is ready to see two men dance together at the Inaugural Ball. I would love to be proved wrong on this. So how about Buttigieg as a VP to Warren? That may fly.

  47. @Tony Deitrich That’s the best idea I’ve heard literally in years!!!!!!!!

  48. @Tony Deitrich I see this idea a lot, and I don't think it's going to happen. Turning out voters of color will be key to success in 2020, and both Warren and Buttigieg are underperforming with black voters right now. If Warren is the nominee, she'll most likely go for an African-American veep. Booker and Harris will be her first choices. I don't think Kamala Harris will leave the Senate for a veep slot, but Booker would.

  49. @Revelwoodie Be it Booker or Harris, Trump might as well let Melania redecorate.

  50. Frank, you remind me of my older Black friends in 2007. They were admiring of Obama, but thought white folks would never vote for him. However, when Obama won the Iowa Caucus in January of 2008 they were all in. If Pete wins Iowa I suspect your qualms will evaporate and your pride will bloom.

  51. Buttigieg is so bright, humble and real, I think he is the best. But we're dealing with America here-a land of prejudice, aspiration and anger. I would love him to be president, but honestly, I don't think America will elect a gay man. I fear that Warren might be a swing too far to the left for the majority. Biden seems like the best shot, but he is somehow disappointing. But please, God, give us a better man than Trump. All the candidates need to think in terms of reality. Did Sanders ruin it for Hilary? Did Bill Clinton ruin it for Hilary? Let's be humble and realistic and pick someone who can beat Trump.

  52. He lacks experience on the state, national and international stages. His level of experience in a general sense is not sufficient for him to be hired in a commanding role in a very (very) large organization (like the federal government?). He is a very bright, fluent guy who wears his eduation well. but so are a very large number of Ivy League type graduates. So what qualifies him to be President? Not much. Bruni himself-- who likes him-- admits to anxiety.

  53. @AS What qualified Trump? Trump was a zero in all of our categories -- state, national, and international stages. Buttigieg has character and intelligence -- two essential qualities missing from our current President.

  54. @AS Bruni said he felt anxious about all of those candidates.

  55. @Melissa Exactly. And Trump couldn't even surround himself with anything but zeros, even in his own mind.

  56. Personally, I can’t wait to cast my vote for Buttigieg in the primary. He’s a revelation: thoughtful, brilliant, calm, and indefatigable. Don’t knock youth until you see how a 37 year-old runs against a seventy-something. That extended bus tour confirmed what I already suspected—Pete is poised, cool, calm and collected at all times because that’s just who he is. How refreshing to hear from a politician who speaks, not just in complete sentences, but in fully composed paragraphs. I’m listening and I think plenty more will too.

  57. I agree he needs more experience. Pete would be a great Veep now and POTUS in the future.

  58. A talented young politic, intelligent, and cares about all can hire the best and the brightest as council. The wisdom to listen to those around him/her would be key to success. The job is too big for one person to do effectively, also a key understanding.

  59. Frank, how about the Lay-away plan ??? Mayor Pete for Vice President, Now. I’m Warren would welcome Him, be an outstanding mentor and prepare Him for the BIG Job. Also, He reminds me a lot of You. Smart, geeky, but with a big heart. Tell me I’m wrong. I’m NOT.

  60. @Phyliss Dalmatian Yes, I love the lay-away plan, but maybe as a congressman, not as VP. If the candidate is Biden, he's going to choose a woman for Veep, to energize suburban women, a block Trump is really vulnerable on. If the candidate is Warren, she's going to choose an African-American Veep, to address her possible weakness with black voters. I just don't see a ticket where Pete fits as VP. If I could wave a magic wand, I'd make him President right now. Maybe that dream will come true some day. In the meantime, he needs to put a few years with a higher office than Mayor of South Bend.

  61. @Phyliss Dalmatian “ I’m SURE Warren would welcome Him.....”. Sorry, I was in a hurry to slip past the moderators.

  62. I'm less concerned with experience than with character and intelligence, and Pete is impressive in both areas. An highly intelligent, humble 37 year-old will surround himself with experienced advisors and actually listen to them. He's fully capable of weighing perspectives and making a decision consistent with his values. Consider Obama, whose advisors included the likes of Nobel laureate Steve Chu, ex-President of the American Assoc for Advancement of Science & Harvard professor John Holdren, MIT professor Ernest Moniz. Pete would attract similarly exceptional advisors. Contrast with Trump, who has no science advisor. None! He's appointed buffoons and industry hacks to run key agencies, surrounds himself with know-nothing sycophants, and makes rash decisions under a cloud of ignorance, based primarily on the demands of his malignant narcissism.

  63. @Rich What about Obama's picks for Treasury and economic advisers, the people who let the criminal banks, insurance companies, traders etc. off the hook? He would have had the entire country behind him if he went after the criminals who almost destroyed the nation's economy. Instead, they are enjoying every single penny they stole from our pockets.

  64. @Rich I heartily agree. Pete Buttigieg is brilliant and so very eloquent. Off the cuff, not prepared speeches, I am always impressed with his thinking. He has an old soul full of wisdom despite his young age.

  65. @College prof bad guys indeed. But what’s the connection to Pete and trump?

  66. Considering what Trump has done just today, has there ever been a more irrelevant op-ed? Why aren't you writing about the authoritarian in the White House? Anyone, including an imperfect and, "ugh" too-young Buttigieg would be an incredible step up.

  67. Yang/Buttigieg..the absolute ticket in my mind.

  68. He's got my vote.

  69. Make America Smart Again. Mayor Pete has shown he’s articulate, well rounded and would provide the calm and reassuring administration this country desperately needs right now. We are tired of waking up to the daily dose of chaos, lies and bullying tweets from this regime. Plus Mayor Pete is comfortable enough to surround himself not with “yes” people to assuage his ego as Trump does but would hire the “best and brightest”. She’s by far the best candidate for the Democrats and any televised debate between Buttigieg and Trump would really be “reality TV”

  70. Why does you and the rest of the news media ignore another midwesterner who has experience and could fill the bill, namely, Senator Amy Klobuchar ??

  71. @MBR I like her, too, and my sense is that Buttigieg does also. He just has that "it" factor the she doesn't. (But the media does tend to spend less time on the second and third tier candidates. Fortunately Amy is still on the debate stage.

  72. The framers of the Constitution thought 35 was old enough to lead the country. The things that make the presidency today a more challenging job than it was two centuries ago are, in many cases, things which people of Pete Buttigieg's generation grasp more readily than older people do. Some kinds of wisdom do come with experience of life, but there's still a great deal of wisdom that's accessible to a first-rate mind with an aptitude for observation and reflection, an appetite for the right kind of reading, and a healthy portion of humility. On balance, such a person can become functionally wiser than a person with more years in the world but fewer resources for learning the right lessons from it. Someone with both the resources and the years might be ideal, but I'm not at all sure there's such a candidate on the horizon now; and, anyway, there's something to be said for putting a premium on energy rather than the last degree of experience. Otherwise, Frank, I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of Pete Buttigieg. I'm supporting his campaign in my own small way, and I look forward to voting for him.

  73. Hopelessly naive, just as Obama was in 2009. Obama thought he would be that special bridge-builder who could help us all find middle ground, so he made proposals that would be palatable to Republicans. They played him like a kazoo, took the Democrats' proposals, got them to whittle them down by half by pretending their support was possible, then voted against them. The two that passed without their support (Dodd-Frank and ACA) they've been trying to kill ever since. I understand Mayor Pete likes the Bible. Here's a quote from St. Paul: "What fellowship hath light with darkness?"

  74. Get over your concerns, Frank. Mayor Pete is the ideal Democratic candidate for all the reasons that you've already mentioned in this wonderful article. Pete Buttigieg will excite a lot of young people who will go to the polls next November and elect him President. I am less concerned about the people who may not vote for him because he is too young, or because he is homosexual, or because he is not sufficiently "progressive." Mayor Pete is the kind of candidate that can fire the Democratic base and also bring in a large number of young, disillusioned voters. In my opinion, Pete Buttigieg is the only Democrat who can beat Trump in 2020.

  75. I like him a lot. He's not ready to be President. Let him mature for 10-20 more years. Learn some life stuff. He'll still be super smart, intelligent, articulate. We'll need great candidates then too.

  76. @Pancho 10 more years, perhaps; not 20 more years! That is too far down the line for Pete and our nation.

  77. Andrew Yang is far more worthy younger person with ideas that value all human worth!

  78. @Geoffrey Brooks Please explain your contention that Yang is "more worthy." I'll listen.

  79. @Geoffrey Brooks Agree. And Pete is absorbing and sending out Yang's policies one by one.

  80. John F. Kennedy would have been the ideal Democratic nominee to oppose Donald Trump. He had all of the qualities needed in a president today with the ability to beat the incumbent. I don’t see any of the declared candidates having that same ability.

  81. Buttigieg may be vulnerable - 'like all the leading contenders for the Dem nomination', but from here none of the Dem candidates' human flaws matter, since each is preferable to any GOP'er, be it 'Individual-1' 45* or another GOP'er. In short, whichever Dem polls best with registered voters in the states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, who determined the Electoral College in '16 and seem poised to do the same in '20, will be the Dem getting my vote on Super Tuesday next March.

  82. Spot on, as usual, from Mr. Bruni. I’ve been wearing my BOOT EDGE EDGE T shirt around Brooklyn while walking the dog, and I’ve been stopped on multiple occasions by fellow dems... invariably the comment is about his age and a doubt that a large majority of Americans can be optimistic enough to vote for Mayor Pete. Plus the usual NYC snobbery (and ignorance) about what the Midwest is actually like. His measured responses and deep knowledge of the policy issues is impressive. But, for me, it is his vision and inclusiveness that has won my vote in the primary. If Stacy Abrams was his running mate, they would win big in a general election.

  83. @J I think Stacy is terrific, but two outsiders to Capital Hill is not a good combo for getting legislation passed. Pete needs a running mate who knows where the bodies are buried on the Hill.

  84. It's a pity. Wouldn't it be great to have a real stable genius in office?

  85. I share Frank Bruni's hesitation about Buttigieg. There's something that whispers "not ready". But he may have to be. The elder generation is fading (Biden and Sanders). The sharp women are good, but good enough? Oh, why did Sherrod Brown not want to be in the fight? He is exactly whom you describe as perfect for beating Trump. Is it too late to lasso him in?

  86. @Susan Audrey My thoughts exactly when reading this article. I like Pete, but my wish went to Brown, esp. after hearing Bruni's thoughts on his ideal candidate.

  87. @Susan Audrey Smart people rise to the occasion, and if Pete is anything, it's smart.

  88. I am extremely impressed with Mayor Pete. He is articulate, compassionate, intelligent, self-deprecating, witty and possesses humility, all traits totally lacking in trump. He seems sincere and honest and just an all around genuinely nice person. His age doesn't bother me. trump is in his 70's and is utterly ignorant. I imagine if Pete Buttigieg wins the nomination he will surround himself with a knowledgeable cabinet and choose a far more wizened running mate. I think he'd make a great president. I still haven't decided who gets my primary vote but Mayor Pete is very close to becoming my pick. And I say this as someone who campaigned for Warren in 2012. I like Elizabeth Warren but think she'd be far more effective in the senate, especially if Democrats take the WH, keep the House and win the senate. But it's still a bit early to make a final decision. But no matter who the Democrat party nominee is, s/he will definitely get my vote.

  89. Interesting that Bruni steers clear of Pete’s faith (a huge asset for many of us!) and his gayness, which is powerful. Bruni needn’t fret: we can all agree that this is not Pete’s moment but he will surely be part of our nation’s leadership sooner than later.

  90. @Cousy Isn't it presumptuous to say "we can all agree that this is not Pete's moment"? Many, many people do not agree with that.

  91. Why can’t it be Mayor Pete’s moment? I actually think his young age is an asset! Old people and young people love Buttigiege. It is the middle aged who are undecided about him.

  92. @Cousy I don’t think we can all agree on that.

  93. I continue to be amazed that the GOP settled for literally the worst American to be their president, but liberals can’t abide anyone who isn’t perfect.

  94. Bravo! You said all there is to say in a single sentence!

  95. @Ennis Nigh I couldn't agree more with your analysis. Major parts of the Democratic Party are incredibly righteous and inflexible. I will vote for whomever is the Democratic nominee, but Pete is the one candidate that gives me hope for America's future.

  96. @Ennis Nigh I think it was Will Rogers that said "I don't belong to any organized political party, I'm a Democrat". Another old saying, "Democrats fall in love, Republicans fall in line".

  97. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. He's intelligent enough to surround himself with qualified advisors and judiciously act on their advice. Just take it, Mr. Bruni. It's a gift.

  98. We want to elect a person of integrity and common sense, one who will not vilify his opponents even if s/he disagrees with them, one will not utter dozens of lies in the time between sunrise and sunset and sometimes well into the dark night as well, one who will bring back respect to the office. I think Pete Buttigieg checks all of the factors and more. So, why the reservation Frank? I have the greatest regard for your writing and am a bit disappointed by your review of Pete Buttigieg today.

  99. @chickenlover I too wonder about Frank's fears that may say more about him then about Pete.

  100. @chickenlover I believe this column was a sneaky trick to survey Pete's true support. Bruni loves Pete.... and so do I! It worked! Since early March I, a former Bernie volunteer in NYC have contrubuted $100 a month to Pete. READ HIS BOOK!

  101. Not in this election. He has a lot of runway, being about half the age the top three contenders; this is likely the last opportunity for any of them. He'll be told to wait a few years.

  102. @Eris Told? By whom? Not me!

  103. @Eris "Because it's their turn" got us John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. Let's not do that again. Pete says that he's not waiting for his turn because there is not a moment to lose for the younger generations. The urgency is now, and if it was not so urgent he wouldn't be running. But it is, so he is. And thank goodness.

  104. @David Exactly what I was thinking!

  105. I like him. I'd vote for him. And some of my more conservative friends tell me they'd vote for him too. Who cares that he's gay? He's smart, honest, and decent. He's articulate. He's sane. Actually, he's brilliant and thoughtful. And I trust he'd assemble a good team and do the right thing for America. No one we elect as President has ever done the job before. What we need is aptitude and character. And I'm OK that he's young. In fact, it gives me hope.

  106. @Melissa Smart, honest, and decent. Put that on my bumper sticker for Mayor Pete.

  107. @Melissa gives me hope too. Hope is a new and welcome feeling.

  108. @Melissa I think he’s brilliant. And can you imagine having a sane president? It’s going to feel so...sane.

  109. I can easily imagine him in the White House. Stop being a Debbie Downer, lest your handwringing become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  110. Frank, Your columns are more plain spoken and direct than much of what he says. And he says a lot of direct things. It's just you can seeing him desiring to powerpoint the concept so badly for you. Bottom line -- the candidate you'd actually want to get that beer -- Elizabeth Warren. Seriously, she more directly spoken and authentic sounding.

  111. Not to my ears... Warren sounds like a teacher. Buttigiege sounds like a warrior poet.

  112. I would take a composed, thoughtful, nuanced, war-tested young mayor over a grinning, woven, gaffe-spewing ex-Veep any day -- age and experience be damned. My only problem with Mayor Pete is that he is clearly too smart to be elected by an American electorate whose attention span is limited to bumper-stickers, not paragraphs. If his issues with the minority voters prevent Pete from selection to the ticket, one would hope he becomes our next U.N. ambassador . Our nation's severely damaged rep on the world stage will very much benefit from the Mayor Pete tone

  113. "I have the damnedest time imagining him in the White House, and that’s depressing the hell out of me." So the problem here isn't with Mayor Pete, but with Mr. Bruni's lack of imagination. Mayor Pete is easily the most electable of all the Dems running because he can carry the Midwest, and he speaks of faith the way Southerns understand. As for experience, there is something to be said for quantity, but I have learned that the quality of experience counts for much more.

  114. Buttigieg has famously taken many a cue from another candidate with a plausible shot of winning the nomination and the presidency: Andrew Yang.

  115. @JW From carefully watching the progression of things, it seems quite the opposite is true.

  116. He’s got my vote. He’s fiercely intelligent, empathetic, talented, and forward thinking. He’s everything but a gimmick.

  117. I have a world of respect for Mayor Pete and right now he has my vote. I always envisioned the candidate going against tRump as being the polar opposite of what he is, and Pete certainly fits this bill in multiple ways. A Buttigieg admin would be a competent one, where a thoughtful, intelligent and highly inquisitive potus would assemble a team of experts where real ideas (and facts!) would be discussed openly. However, mayor Pete is mired at 5% in the latest polls because he does lack one essential element: Like it or not there needs to be some show biz in a presidential campaign. There has to be a message that lifts people up and inspires them, and I'm not sure my candidate is getting that across. But there's still time, I'm hoping.

  118. @Chris Manjaro I think you have not had the opportunity to see him in person yet at a grassroots event. There is great excitement. Try to catch some on line. Look for videos of the Polk County Steak Fry in Iowa.

  119. I just wish we could see Pete debate Trump on stage. Mayor Pete is so articulate and composed, has a keen command of facts, has a heart, quotes scripture, and isn’t easily ruffled. I think The Donald would disintegrate (if he doesn’t before then).

  120. Amen. That debate would crush Trump, slowly and politely.

  121. Unfortunately (or fortunately) we'll never get to see this. At this point, it is getting to be more and more unlikely that Trump will be on a debate stage with anybody.

  122. @LWF I believe that Trump would refuse to debate him, or if forced to by public opinion pick his preferred venue and stuff it with hecklers with the intent of intimidating Buttigieg, or worse, as he did with HRC by loading the front row with Bill's presumed conquests.

  123. I think Buttigieg sees his timing as a positive. If there's any time when a 37 year old gay mayor could win the Presidency, it's with a President as vulnerable as Trump. If Bush hadn't been so unpopular, for instance, would it have been Obama's time? Or would we still be wondering when we would have our first black President? I love Pete, he's one of the 3 candidates on my short list, the other two being Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. It's way too soon for me to make my final choice. But I'm confident any one of them could win, with the right operation behind them.

  124. Have faith, Frank. He's as good as you think he is, and people are catching on... It's not unlike where Obama sat at this point in 2007... People were thinking, "He's great, but will the country vote for him?" -- We got our answer, and I expect we'll get it again. Pete Buttigieg has an incredible intellect coupled with tremendous EQ that allows him to meet people where they are and forge meaningful connections. His success is no accident. In addition to his wonky knowledge of policies ranging from agriculture to health care to foreign engagement, a close look reveals that he's spent literally the last 15 years (back to his college writings) studying the ways in which language could be crafted to reclaim republican talking points around faith, patriotism and values, to use them to unite a broad coalition around a progressive agenda. The more people listen, the more people will realize that he is incredibly electable!

  125. "But, ugh, that age. My wish for a young candidate didn’t mean a 37-year-old one." You fret too much Frank. JFK was 43 when he was elected President. Pete would be 39, and he's a very, very smart man. As far as the other candidates, any of them are head over heels over Trump. What we can do is, vote, vote,and vote.

  126. I love Pete Buttigieg, he really speaks to my intellect and moderate heart. I wish he were a governor or senator and maybe a decade older. I hope he continues to ascend to presidency someday. I wish it could be today.

  127. There certainly is something to being too old to be president of the United States. There is also too young. Buttigieg meets the latter category and there is no proving ground, other than the horrible, grinding and deflating process of a long campaign, where he could overcome that deficit for 2020. If we were to elect such a young and generally inexperienced person, we'd be rolling the dice, again. Perhaps after Trump the country is ready to go in an entirely new and challenging direction. But, until he would be tested at a serious level, how would we know what he might do? How does someone shy of 50, even shy of 40, attain the deep insight and cautious wisdom to act as president of the richest large and most influential nation on earth? The progression of decades usually goes like this: in our 20s, we think we know everything. In our 30s, we get taught lessons that, undeniably, tell us we don't. By our 40s, the seepage of time, trials and tribulations confirm many of our weaknesses for those paying attention, while, it is hoped, we still know and can rely on our strengths. The youngest president to be elected, JFK, made some drastic mistakes in his short time in office, the most important probably being not shutting down the Vietnam intervention, allowing a coup in Vietnam to proceed and not stopping the invasion of Cuba. Big things. Buttigieg is probably running to position himself for the future but, it just might be, nonetheless, that 2020 is his year.

  128. Who would JOIN the military?!! Be sent somewhere to kill someone who doesn’t deserve it? You don’t get to say ‘no’ when ordered to kill. That decision by Pete B is completely disqualifying.

  129. He volunteered to serve his country as a Naval Intelligence officer.

  130. @Billy Evans Based on your presidential disqualifying experiences I would venture to say that Trump is your preferred alternative to Pete Buttigieg, after all, Bone-Spurs had his dad do everything to avoid being sent to Vietnam.

  131. I'll be caucusing for Pete. My only reservation is that I'd really, really like to elect a woman (Democratic) president.

  132. @Lyle Bravely ignoring that gender is a social construct no longer taken seriously by biologists, I wonder how real your admirable desire for a woman president can be if you will caucus for Pete over Elisabeth. I love Pete, but his positions and values are not truly hugely different from Elisabeth. Are you really saying you really really really want to vote for a woman provided they agree perfectly with you? Isn't that a bit misogynistic, the opposite of what you want?

  133. Buttigieg exemplifies true leadership, intelligence, vision, compassion, empathy, morals and conviction. If Mayor Pete gets the nomination but loses the election, it will say a lot more about us as a country than about him.

  134. he's only 37. trump is double his age. who is the more mature? who is smarter? who has military experience? who runs city? who had no political experienc--and boy oh boy it shows. who has some problems with black voters? who is a racist? who seems to have moral compass? who is a voracious reader and is intellectually curious? who doesn't lie every time he opens his mouth?

  135. @brupic oops who runs A city; experiencE

  136. The entire political game has changed, Frank...and you can't attribute that "tight knot in your stomach" entirely to Pete, can you? I didn't think so. Here's the deal: Buttigieg is, I would say, the sharpest tool in the shed, and I'm for him--in this era of thugs and TV show hosts and nonstop golfers, none of whom has zero-point-one percent of Pete's intelligence, calmness, and understated eloquence. I compare him to two other young guys who were thought TOO young for the office...JFK and Barack...and at 37, he compares pretty favorably with them as to accumulated track record and skills for the job. MAYBE I'd accept him as Veep on a ticket, if he can't drum up the votes to lead it--but my preference is to go with Mayor Pete as an astounding and really terrific upgrade from what we have now.

  137. @Robert - The only way America can even begin to clean up, clean out and recover from the monumental damage to our standing in the world (and internally), is for someone with extraordinary intellect, people skills, energy and a solid core of honesty to lead the way. Mayor Pete has all of those character traits and is wise beyond his years. He is inspirational, a real breath of fresh air on every level, and I believe has what takes to face down the rampant corruption exhibited by McConnell and his tea party bros in the House.

  138. @Robert He may be the youngest but among the slew of candidates, he is the adult in the room.

  139. @Robert, I know many Republicans in my area (conservative eastern Washington) who like Mayor Pete a lot.

  140. Interesting piece. About that knot in your stomach. I have had a knot in my stomach every day that Trump has been President. I can understand in a general way about how Buttigieg’s age makes you uncomfortable. I feel that way about the oldest candidates but not just because of age. About the timing, I think Buttigieg is extraordinarily smart, principled, genuine and inspiring. He has so much to offer the country that we need now. I think as President, he will pick his cabinet and other advisors well. I believe he will prove to be up to the job of being a great President.

  141. @Lark I couldn't have said it better myself. We need someone young and fresh--a new generation. And he's not just the flavor of the month. He's the real deal. My 80+ year old parents love him. They KNOW Joe Biden is too old. Because they've been there.

  142. "But,ugh, that age" Mr. Bruni says. The wise framers of the Constitution thought anyone who was 35 was old enough to be President. Clearly they were more prescient than Mr. Bruni. Pete Buttigieg is exactly the right person to begin healing and leading our divided country. Go Mayor Pete!

  143. I am not concerned about Mayor Pete’s age. I recently googled the age of Presidents and we had JFK at 43, Obama in his 40s. I think he’s more mature than his years and represent the future with a conciliatory tone, inclusive, intellect and gives me hope again.

  144. It’s not his time. How about Montana Gov. Steve Bullock for Warren’s VP?

  145. Buttigieg would be worthy candidate, but he's not the best one in the field. That person is clearly Elizabeth Warren because to beat trump the Democrats are going to need to address the issues that are troubling so many Americans, that the country is turning into an oligarchy where the wealthy can act lawlessly without consequence. That's going to take more than slick words and kumbaya schemes, it's going to take some spit and vinegar along with some hard headed plans to address those concerns. This seems especially hard for you to swallow, Mr. Bruni, as you pen one article after another where you find some way to minimize the candidacy of someone who has the ingredients to be transformational. I don't understand your trepidation, as Warren has said, this is not the time to vote for someone out of fear, it's the time to stand up, be counted and join the fight because that is what the GOP and trump have brought us. Hopefully someday soon you'll be on board.

  146. Sure, he'll be even smarter, wiser, and more capable in 5 years--right in time to start his second term. Sounds ok.

  147. I feel strongly that all the many many closeted gay married men in the Midwest will vote for Pete in the polling station when they’re behind the curtains.

  148. All of the positive things you say about him will endure. Moderate Democrats find Elizabeth Warren unnerving - she "fights" but she does not make people feel safe or secure. Biden tries to, but age and clarity of thought are not his friend. Bernie also does not make people feel safe, and for better or worse his recent health issues will harm his campaign. And him, if he isn't careful. I think Pete will slowly but surely rise to the top of the party, and will easily beat Donald Trump in 2020. Slow and steady wins this race.....

  149. I’m counting on it!

  150. As a 37-year-old myself, I gotta say that I’ll be pretty surprised if the next five (!) years of my life are the ones that make or break my maturity and life experience. Is there something people aren’t telling me about those magical coming-of-age years between 37 and 42? I dunno, I’ve had a PhD for eight years, a marriage for six, I’ve got a child, a career, I’m a homeowner...geez, it’s not like I’m eighteen, guys.

  151. @Jessica You can only see the growth that happens as you grow older and mature AFTER you have gone through it. 37 is very different from 47 when you have started to acquire wisdom, not just succeeded at becoming a responsible adult.

  152. @AliceP I think the rate at which one accumulates wisdom varies by the individual. I'm aware that I know more about life than I did at 27; I'm not saying that age is nothing but a number. I'm just saying that for many people, especially bright people who have had a range of life experiences, 37 years does not a neophyte make, and I honestly think it would be enough life experience to prepare the right person for the presidency.

  153. They can be eventful years. For me, yes. You might be surprised. 37 does feel very young now, and I’m not that far from it. For example, having a child who is approaching teenage years is very different from having a toddler. Parents may fall seriously ill, may die. Careers suffer an unexpected turn. I wouldn’t discount ten, even five years at any point in one’s life, especially middle age, when life can be most unpredictable. Whatever happens in the primary, I’m fairly sure Mayor Pete will not be who he is today when 2025 rolls around. But, he’s still got my vote!

  154. Get over it: Biden's the most qualified and most appealing of any Democrats to Republican or Independent voters who want to ditch Trump.

  155. @Favs That may be the case in your age group but doesn't seem to be what the overwhelming majority of donors think.

  156. I LIKE Pete. And I agree with this column's description of him except for the age concern. I'll take a mature younger person over an old man-child anytime. Actions speak louder than words and divisive rhetoric is so . . . lame. I vote as an independent based upon what I hear from the candidate's mouth and Buttigieg conveys balance, reason and real leadership. In addition, a candidate's conviction to important topics including health care, the environment, and gun control are taken into consideration. I think that Warren, Biden, and Saunders will be overlooked by various chunks of the populace. As a former mayor of a very large US city said the candidate who will win needs to be moderate and I have to agree.

  157. I like Pete Buttigieg a lot. But Warren is a strong candidate and she's got the right vision for today's problems. Centrism isn't what the world needs today. Our problems are too big. We need Warren's aggressive vision . . . or we'll be condemned to Trump's.

  158. Centrism may not be to your liking but an aggressive candidate like Warren will either not gain the support she needs from Congress, or were we so fortunate as to have a Democratic house and Senate after the next election, would form the foundation for a pendulum swing once agin bringing Democrats into the minority. We need to end extremes and bring calm intelligent reason back to our politics.

  159. @SG1 Centrism hasn't really worked well for the Democrats. Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama presided over huge Democratic loses in Congress and state legislatures. Yes, they both were able to hang on to the presidency for two terms, but both saw their party decline in power overall.

  160. Mayor Pete is the one candidate that gives me the same feeling as Barack Obama. Not only is Pete super intelligent, but he gives me a feeling of calm. That everything could be okay. And, given the anxiety I now feel on a daily basis, that says so much. He has impressed me since the first day I heard him speak.

  161. Mayor Pete is all of the best things you describe. Smart. Articulate. Very smart. Common sensical. Easy to listen to. He could give Trump a run for his money in a debate. Intellectually. But. Also on stage. He's short. Child-like in appearance. That linguistic kill shot hit home. Alfred E. Neuman. Even for those young'uns who don't know who that is, it still rings true. Plus. As mayor. He made some mistakes as a leader in the black community. So in the end it's not his age. It's his image.

  162. So here’s something funny to think about: There are many that are worried about Trump potentially winning re-election yet there is no one running who could even come close to the volume of “mistakes” made with the African American voter. So you think Pete’s “mistakes” are even an issue when compared to Trump and the whole Republican lot? This is typical of Democrats. Somehow they believe there is the one ideal candidate sent down from the heavens. Newsflash; there isn’t one. Pete’s the best one of the bunch and while he may have made mistakes, they pale in comparison to Trump, so stop worrying and start supporting. If anyone will learn from his mistakes it’s the brightest one of the bunch - Pete. By the way, please give the African American voter more credit and rest assured they will vote in their own best interest - and that best interest is certainly not Trump or the Republican Party.

  163. Born Jan 19, 1982; he'll be 39 when he takes office, January 20 of 2021. The campaign will have given him a lot more experience!

  164. Now do Andrew Yang. He is one is way up (3%) and Pete is on his way down (4%).

  165. Frank, this is a secret. You’ve long been my favorite at the NYTs. Chill out, Dude. Take some deep breaths, walk the Dog, feed the Dog, bathe the Dog. This will ALL be moot, as Trump will NOT be running. HE will finally make a big, beautiful deal, to avoid impeachment/eventual Prison. He will Resign, by the New Year. The GOP ticket will be Pence/Pompeo OR Pompeo/Haley. Seriously.

  166. With all due respect Mr. Bruni, please don't do the Republican's work for them. Pointing out the weaknesses of a talented up and coming Democratic candidate, surely you can find a better use for your column.

  167. I am for Pete. He rises above the dross. Yes he can. Believe!

  168. Frank, stop being such a worry wart. Pete is young, but only compared to the geezer septuagenarians who are also in the top tier. May I remind you that Alexander the Great ruled the Western world for years before he died at age 32 in 323 BC. We still talk about his great gifts and leadership skills today. Pete is old enough to have served in the Navy and successfully run a mid-sized city, both major skills that our current president does not have. True, he's not perfect, but you don't have to be perfect to run this country. You just have to have heart, empathy, curiosity, intelligence, leadership skills. Charisma doesn't hurt either. I think Pete could be great, if he can get past all the naysayers looking for that perfect candidate.

  169. The phrase "do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good" springs to mind after reading this piece. Yes, Pete may be, to use Frank Bruni's phrase, "agonizingly imperfect"; however, he truly is the class of the field -- despite his relative youth. (And 38 ain't that young, really.) I look forward to voting for Pete in the NH primary.

  170. If Pete could just quit wearing a long sleeved white shirt and tie, he could go further. Most guys in their 30's are busy raising a, you know. How can he get empathy from those implied demographics... working class and family man. He's way too young to have wisdom..grew up in the bubble of Notre Dame.

  171. @global Hoosier He has a family!

  172. @global Hoosier You know, most of the top tier candidates are multi millionaires. Pete comes in last on personal wealth. He is the only one living in a middle class neighborhood having bought a fixer-upper and has student debt so I think he could relate more to those younger people with families than the older well established candidates.

  173. I agree. I would, on the other hand, very much like it if folks could convince us that we were wrong. Obama was an exemplary president. All the same, he would have accomplished more had he been more experienced.

  174. @Robert Obama was an exemplary president. He would have accomplished more had he been white.

  175. @ann Yep. That, too.

  176. No candidate is perfect and being 37 is not a make or break for me. I can completely see Pete Buttigieg in the White House, in fact I think about it every day. What a remarkable transformation for this country and for the world a Buttigieg presidency would be. He is an old soul and a deep and thoughtful intellect. He has an inherent honesty and decency along with a clear vision of how to bring the country together. Pete Buttigieg is exactly what we need right now.

  177. @Cathy Yes, I totally agree. He is an "old soul," and he does indeed have a "deep and thoughtful intellect." It's also clear that he has essential honesty and decency. Combine those qualities, and then add his superior, truly excellent ability to communicate with all of us on a very down-to-earth level in everyday terms on issues that are sometimes quite complex. There is just something about Mayor Pete Buttigieg that makes me feel enthusiastic and hopeful. If he doesn't get the top slot on the ticket this time, he should be the VP candidate for Warren.

  178. @Cathy - Beautifully said. I think he also has what it takes to begin repairing the damage to America's standing with our allies, unlike anyone else running. And face it, the damage is extensive. In fact, I think the whole world would cheer for him (and the departure of trump).

  179. @MaryC I just don't understand how you can value Pete's "old soul, deep and thoughtful intellect, essential honesty and decency, superior truly excellent ability to communicate" which makes you "feel enthusiastic and hopeful" and at the same time choose Warren for president! Warren is out to fight everyone and everything that holds up our economy while brashly castigating anyone who disagrees with her and rudely ignoring questions during debates all in a hokey "mama and baby" manner of speaking. The two are black and white!

  180. I’m 70 years old and I would be very happy to vote for Pete Buttigieg. Maybe the older folks like me have been in charge long enough.

  181. @Native Tarheel I'm 78 and I think Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are too darn old. And that's because I am their age. Even though I'm in good health (for my age) I know my physical stamina is not what it used to be, and my mental capacities are somewhat slowed. In the next four to eight years they will diminish further.

  182. @Native Tarheel Amen, amen, and can I hear another amen? Time to turn the reigns over to the young and vital. Bernie's had a heart attack, jaw flapping Joe seems to have lost his voice. Warren has some spunk and seems much younger than Biden or Sanders. Warrne/Buttigieg would suit me just fine. And I hear the concerns, yes, we are at a pivotal times. Handwringing a la this article is not helpful.

  183. @Arlene yep. I am a week younger than Kamala Harris but can feel myself losing that proverbial step. I do not know how those octogenarians in Congress do it.

  184. Public Administration at the local level generally has no use for ideology. For the most part, we are electing a manager or management committee, sharing oversight of a bureaucracy, such as a county, city or school district. For a national or state wide office, voters generally expect some notion of one's philosophical leanings, even when the job is to oversee a state finance office, or elections, or law enforcement, all requiring real management skills. At a level above a municipality, political philosophy has a legitimate place in the equation. Washington and others met the requirement in their time risking life and property. Government, and even business needs ethical and philosophical direction. Day to day management is reserved for the bureaucracy. Get to it, Pete. Stop burring the job description.

  185. Buttigieg is surely intelligent, but he is woefully inexperienced. He has never won an election for office for anything larger than a small city. His record there is not completely positive. He might become a strong candidate in a decade or two, when he's not such a greenhorn. He is a strong speaker, but much of what he says is cliche. He seems to exist in the ether of grand statements, with little substance beyond them. He is a lot like Booker in that sense, though Booker has won larger elections and has experience in Washington. But let's not forget that he is in the single digits so far, even with his mammoth treasure chest. That truckload of money, by the way, comes with the strings that big donors attach, however well they are unspoken. He is also too conservative for many in the Democratic Party, in spite of the sympathy many have for his potential to be a path-breaker in one way. However good people might feel about this with regard to a nominee, it won't necessarily translate into defeating Trump. Remember that Warren will also be a path-breaker should she ascend to the Presidency. Buttigieg still trails the bumbling diva Harris, which ought to be a sobering thought for you; and he's not that far ahead of a slew of other candidates.There's lots of talk about Buttigieg but he hasn't really caught fire. He's closer to Steyer and Klobuchar than he is to Harris and Sanders. His military service is a positive thing, but Gabbard has him in that. Time to get real.

  186. Ain't nothing wrong with Pete Buttigieg that a couple or four years in a somewhat more responsible position wouldn't fix. What do you think about him as Secretary of Health and Human Services in a Democratic administration? (Yes, I know the current occupant of the Oval Office has less government experience than your average Labrador Retriever--which is actually a good argument for not electing another light on experience individual. But, of course, if Pete made it to the nomination, I would vote for him. That can also be said of the Labrador Retriever.)

  187. @Glenn Ribotsky Mayor Pete is hundred times smarter than the draft dodger and Jared are currently in the big house of crime I am tired of the constant tearing down of our candidates and the slap in the face of minorities if we support Biden We are not stupid so stop tearing minorities apart or any other candidate. We can think and make our own brilliant decision on our own We will bring the GOP down with all of our outstanding candidates

  188. Does everyone realize we are running out of time here? Climate, income inequality, structural flaws in our democracy, white supremacy, long intrenched racial injustice, and more? Time to turn over the country in crisis to the generation who will have to live with these potential game enders. Thank heaven we have a gifted person who has thought long and hard about these issues. A person who actually served his country in the military and understands national intelligence. A pragmatic moderate who speaks to the heartland and can win there. We don’t have time to waste and it’s selfish to suggest we do. The founding fathers were mostly all very young at the time of the revolution and they did very well indeed.

  189. It seems the chief criticism of Mayor Pete raised by this piece is he has limited experience with Government. To me, that is his strength. The current resident of the White House had (arguably has) no experience either. Mayor Pete is the right person for the job but the real question is whether America has the will power to hand over the reigns to someone who wants to do the right thing and not just continue the interminable fight between the two sides. Regrettably, confidence in my nation is at an all-time low and I fear that while Pete has plenty of maturity we as a nation do not.

  190. Reading through the people who like him, all of it is about how wonderful Pete is and nobody says anything about his positions except he is a moderate. I will vote for him over Trump. And if we have to have yet another corporate Democrat, he is way better than Biden. That’s all I can say. Educated liberals put way too much emphasis on style. And btw, Obama said all the right things one would think would win over Republicans. It didn’t work.

  191. @Donald Obama served two terms. Something must of worked.

  192. @Donald That's because people can't explain his policies in a short comment, and they're not the focus of this column at all. I'm sure these people have boned up on his policies and stances on issues, which are readily available on the Web.

  193. @Donald - Obama was elected twice - and it didn't work? You're inventing the narrative to suit your conclusions.

  194. The more i hear Pete, the more i am impressed with this man's character and intelligence and logic. Do we wish to wait to experience what he has to offer.

  195. Buttigieg has achieved one thing few others in his situation could have: I can spell his rather unusual name without having to check to see if I'm right. That's quite a feat for someone not called Sanders or Warren or Biden. But he's too young to be in the White House just yet. He should perhaps spend the next few years as Biden's or Warren's vice president or as a senator or, better still, a governor. Then, I think, he'd make a superb president, an anti-Trump.

  196. Democrats have to be perfect, Republicans only have to be white. I agree Mayor Pete could use a Governorship or other experience, but military experience puts some mileage on a person too. Let's face it, he'll be infinitely better at the job than Trump and be smart enough to surround himself with smart people who sometimes disagree with him, rather than sycophants. He'll make a fine VP under Warren.

  197. Donated to his campaign and have a "Pete" sticker on my car. I love his cool, Spock-like intelligence. (Never was comfortable with that "I feel your pain" touchy feely Clinton demeanor.) But mainly I wanted to show my rural area that ordinary people can support a gay candidate. An outlier with a funny name. Kind of like Obama. However, I was disheartened when a friend said to me "I think he could win. If he wasn't married." And I knew exactly what he meant.

  198. @Marathonwoman Probably 95% of the people for whom his sexuality is an issue wouldn't vote for any Democrat. And probably 95% of them live in deep red states whose Electoral College votes won't go to any Democrat. This "issue" (ironic quotes) is a red herring. Until 2008, I never thought I'd see an African-American in the White House in my lifetime. Given our nation's history (and present), that's a much higher -- as is being a woman -- than a gay veteran.

  199. Natural leadership abilities honed by a military career. Add in : Smart, Ethical, Analytical, Patriotic and a Man with a Heart. Will America have the courage to elect a fine person with integrity versus a TV personality who thrives on constant chaos ?

  200. Isn't saying Pete is too young like saying Bernie is too old? How are those questions not ageist? I find him the perfect candidate precisely because he ticks all the boxes AND he is young and personally more invested in the future than older candidates who will likely not live to see the long-term effects of climate change. You disappoint me, Bruni. Pete is one of our own and deserves our unwavering support.

  201. @William Schindler Excellent point. Ageism works both ways. "Too young" is as wrong as "too old."

  202. Steve Bullock from Montana. However, I was intrigued enough by Buttigieg that I read up in his local paper, especially in regards to racial tensions. The local leaders said he listened, and gave him the benefit of the doubt, even though they didn't get everything they wanted. One said, there were legal constraints on what he could and couldn't do.

  203. @Sharon Thank you for doing the research. Pete has a great deal of support among all races in his hometown. Obviously he did not solve all problems, but which mayor in which city, and which president in which country has? South Bend had a tragedy but did not fall apart like some other cities and this is partly due to the time and effort that was put in by all sides way ahead of time to lead and build relationships that could withstand tragedy.

  204. To me thinking you're qualified to go from being mayor of a city of about 100,000 people to being the president of a country of about 325,000,000 is a major disqualification - and I'm surprised it's not to every thinking American. Seriously: the nerve. Also in sharp contrast to Frank I believe, unlike Elizabeth and Bernie, Pete just does not get where the US is right now. He's too much a young Joe, who thinks compromise and conciliation is the order of the day. Rather, the US needs a fighter because so much is at stake and the other side's not playing fair. Ditto: Elizabeth and Bernie know the enemy - and it's not 49% of the population. It's more like a significant proportion of a certain 0.1%. Pete might be the one to follow two terms of Warren. I think he's got some learning to do first myself, but well, we can only dream and wonder can't we?

  205. @GRW Buttigieg has (politely) pointed out that being mayor of a city of 100,000 gives him a great deal more hands-on executive experience than politicians who have spent their entire careers as legislators.

  206.'s a pickle. Intellectually he possesses all the right attributes, he's seemingly packaged acceptably and is the very antithesis of the guy in the position he seeks, but will an electoral majority look past the one thing no one but his partner should care about. I for one will vote for whomever the Democratic flagbearer is, even if that person is Marianne Williamson, but I also voted for Hillary and she came up short, likely due to the baggage in the form of steamer trunks she was toting - like the burden laden Jacob Marley of Scrooge. But if anyone can inspire multitudes to run, not walk, to the polls, maybe even take the day off of work just to ensure nothing crazy keeps them from the polls, it's Trump. Trump might be to Buttigieg, what Buttigieg would likely be to a non-Trump - heaven sent.

  207. As a 54 year old man, I understand the concept of experience but when I look at the current crop (assuming Biden has been mortally wounded) I would rather have a qualified yet possibly less experience President that 1) Trump remaining in office and 2) someone whose main qualification is age. In my career I always bet on the best regardless of race, gender, age etc and that paid off very well. Forget you inkling and go with the best. I am a registered GOP but I donated to Mayor Pete.

  208. @glp5 Thank you for supporting Pete. I believe he can reach many Republicans and independents better than the other candidates can. Precisely because he is not from Washington and he offers new perspectives and the different valuable experience of dealing with peoples' everyday lives and every day issues, well, on the ground every day.

  209. Why are we (Dems in general, as well as the punditocracy) discussing this nomination cycle in hyperbolic terms like "vulnerable" and "perfect?" It's impossible for any one candidate to fire up all the varying constituencies of the Democrat Big Tent, as well as attract the entirety of the amorphous and fickle beast called "the Middle." That's simply too many contradictory constituncies and priorities. The "ideal" candidate is likely the one whose policies and personality are attractive enough to a wide swath of the electorate that they will come out and vote for him/her, while firing up enough of a base to do the legwork of campaigning in the important districts. A portion of the electorate will always find some trivial (or uninformed) thing that turns them away from voting for someone, e.g. age/youth, sexuality, questionable Native heritage, false labels of Socialist, perceived weakness (or over-aggressiveness in a woman), too partisan or too accommodating, etc. Any candidate will lose some portion of low-info votes. And any candidate, even a "perfect" one, will lose votes from people who believe in whatever lies the Republicans propagate. (e.g. Swift-Boating!) Who cares if it's "not Buttigieg's time"; simply having him involved in the race raises the level of discourse for all of the Dem candidates, which is good the Party as a whole (especially mirrored against Trump). And at the very least, he's laying the groundwork for a brilliant future.

  210. I agree, Mayor Pete is far and away the current candidate whom I'd most like to see as President too. His intellect and common decency put him on a par with Barack Obama. But, you are right, Mr. Bruni: Not yet. However, a ticket featuring Buttigieg as VP with Elizabeth Warren in the top spot would suit me just fine.

  211. @Martha Goff That is exactly my top pick. Warren and Mayor Pete. He's got all it takes to be a top pick, but just too young at the moment. But the combined energy of these two candidates does give me a great deal of hope.

  212. As a physician, I'd rather have a 37 year old president than a 78 year old president. You can easily detect some mental deterioration and cognitive decline in both Trump and Biden. The challenges that we are currently facing (such as climate change and the effects of automation) are much better appreciated by younger candidates such as Buttigieg and Yang than older candidates. I'd also argue that Buttigieg has more useful life experience than Trump. Buttigieg and Yang are probably the best choices among Democrats.

  213. I certainly agree with your assessment, and as one who has been 78 have little doubt the aged candidates would have a very difficult time keeping up with what I would assume are the mental and physical challenges of the job. I really like Mayor Pete, am seriously considering voting for him in the primary, but my main objective is defeating Trump. I live in, or close to, "redneck country" and know that the fact he is gay will influence the vote of many of my neighbors. I want a candidate who will defeat Trump, and while I think Mayor Pete's sexual orientation might hamper him is unconscionable, still think it is a factor that is there. Hopefully, his centrist positions will prevail and bring independents along.

  214. @Ralph Chaffee Hi Ralph, Thanks for your reply. I agree that bigots would vote for Trump, but I think that Buttigieg is the most appealing candidate for moderate independents like myself.

  215. I am a fan of Buttegieg, although I just know I would forever butcher his name. I would like to see a pit bull on the ticket, and Warren would fit that bill. And I think she would do a good job too.

  216. Couple Buttigieg with Booker or Harris or Gavin Newsom. Any of those tickets would destroy Trump/Pence in a debate.

  217. Please stop trying to find something wrong with Pete. He's the ticket. Support that and his genuine effort to help all of us be better and have better lives.

  218. And you just continue to ignore Mr. Yang. Why?

  219. See Bruni, your last line speaks volume ! I listened to Mayor Pete Buttigieg from the beginning, and is listening to him ever since. He never runs out of the right thing to say, never interrupted anyone in debates, never raises his voice , yet when he speaks one has to pay attention. So opposite of trump who screams, insults in his pathetic verbiage. If not the chosen candidate this time , pertains

  220. Trump has made every candidate disposable and boring . One bad apple ....

  221. The prospect of four more years of Trump is simply not an option. This piece, Frank, is reminiscent of the job Maureen Dowd did on Hillary. The race on the Democratic side is moving along. Why do we not support the candidates, at this time, not take them down. In the words of Marianne Williamson, "live your life with love not fear."

  222. I don't care about his age: Buttigieg is the most mature of all the candidates. Trump is old in age but pathologically childish in temperament, and Buttigieg is the exact opposite.

  223. If that’s that’s the worst quality we can come up with the line should be around the block to vote for Mayor Pete

  224. @Gary The line to get ito his events generally is all around the block.