Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, wrote a regular column for the Harvard Crimson during his years as a student that reveal an early attachment to the dogmas of the Democratic Party and some of its more radical themes.
Buttigieg’s work for the Crimson spans three semesters, from early 2003 to mid-2004. Most of his columns are about American politics, and make the case for the Democratic Party in its efforts to defeat then-President George W. Bush. In well-written — if somewhat verbose and smug — prose, Buttigieg presents himself proudly as a voice on the left.
The young(er) Buttigieg gives some credence to anti-Bush speculations popular on the left at the time. In one column, for example, he declares that “Bush was not elected president by most of the people and arguably not by the electoral college.” (Bush lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College; despite Democrats’ complains about the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore, Bush was later shown to have won the most votes in the state of Florida.) Buttigieg also suggests several times that Bush knew, or ought to have known, about the 9/11 terror attacks beforehand.
Like many other Democrats at the time, Buttigieg was obsessed with the Iraq war. In several columns, he mused on the subject of war crimes allegedly committed by American soldiers in Iraq. These incidents occur, he says, “not because Americans are evil, but because war is the ultimate doer of evil.” On another occasion, Buttigieg — who would later volunteer for the U.S. Navy Reserves, and served a tour in Afghanistan as an intelligence officer — speculates about “soldiers my age at roadblocks and checkpoints in Israel and Iraq alike, shooting children, women and journalists” out of fear.
Buttigieg also criticizes Israel elsewhere, obliquely. He says that Americans should “take those to task who cause suffering,” and offers Israel and Saudi Arabia as examples. He also mocks what he calls the “nonsensical term ‘homicide bombers’ to describe Hamas suicide attacks” against Israeli civilians: “What bomber is not homicidal?” Buttigieg asks rhetorically.
The future Rhodes Scholar and politician shares many of the obsessions of fellow Democrats. He blasts Republicans for moral hypocrisy, and laments that “that they get away with it,” suggesting that Democrats adopt “the resilience of the disgraced on the right” rather than dropping the likes of Bill Clinton “like a political hotpotato.” Elsewhere, he urges Democrats to do more than criticize, wistfully observing that the party awaits “a decisively hopeful candidate” who can offer a “meaningful alternative.” Elsewhere, he writes: “To make a compelling case, the left must talk about what it stands for,” not just what it opposes.
Buttigieg makes clear that he opposes the Bush tax cuts, and supports “a single-payer health care system” similar to that in other countries. He also writes that he looks forward to a future “without dependence on foreign oil, or any oil.”
He also blasts Fox News — an interesting reference, in light of his recent controversial appearance on the network — as little more than a propaganda machine for the Bush administration.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.