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All Posts2022-04-28T18:27:54+00:00

PetePost #1: I’m for Pete

Hello Everyone,

After considerable study, I have decided to actively support Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s presidential candidacy.

As many of you will remember, in late November 2006, almost two years before the 2008 presidential election and about three months before Barack Obama announced his candidacy, I wrote the first of more than 100 of what I would come to call “Obamagrams”: It followed a major policy speech Obama gave on Iraq. In it, I quoted a columnist who opined that the speech “will dispel any lingering notions that Obama ‘lacks the experience’ to lead this country.”

In a similar vein, I write today the first of what I’m calling “PetePosts” because I believe that Pete Buttigieg has what it takes to lead this country. They will be posted on my new website:

Two years ago, my wife Penny Sebring and I were in a UChicago meeting with David Axelrod, Obama’s former chief political strategist. Penny asked him if he could point to any out-of-the-blue, out-of-turn presidential prospects for 2020. He pointed only to Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Mayor Eric Garcetti. (With the respect to the field for 2020, Penny and/or I have also met Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Deval Patrick.)

I am supporting Pete Buttigieg because he is the closest analog to Barack Obama. There are stark differences, however, like Pete’s executive experience as a mayor and wartime experience as a sailor.

Beginning in 2006, I backed Barack primarily because of his:

  • superior intellect
  • calm temperament, and
  • Midwestern authenticity

I am now backing Pete for the same reasons.

I will go into greater detail in subsequent PetePosts. In the meantime, I encourage you to watch some or all of this October video in which David Axelrod interviewed Mayor Pete at the UChicago Institute of Politics, which he now leads. video of Pete Buttigieg’s interview with David Axelrod

While it is over an hour in length, you might take a look at a 5-minute segment (approximately minute marks 46 through 51) in which he speaks directly to his “African American voter challenge.” It will give you insights into the overall high quality of his thought process.

If you would rather not hear more from me, please hit “reply” and say, “no más.” I’ll understand that there could be many reasons for that.

Alternatively, as always, please pass this along, if you think others would be interested. If you want me to add anyone to my list, please send their email address to me.

Thank you.


November 25th, 2019|

PetePost #2: More Than 50 Mayors Support Mayor Pete

Hello Everyone,

When I explain what I do, I say that awhile back I stopped “working for pay” (as a Merrill Lynch investment banker) and started “paying to work” (as head of our family foundation).  But, both worlds have one thing in common – the need to do “due diligence” – before entering into a relationship.  As an investment banker, that means investigating a company’s financial condition and prospects, among other things.  As a foundation, we do the same things when we consider making a gift to a not-for-profit organization.

I also do due diligence when I support a candidate, and I do it more extensively the higher the office.  In 2003, I did a good deal of it on Barack Obama, with a highly confirmatory result.

In my first PetePost, I said that the first time I heard of Pete Buttigieg was when David Axelrod mentioned his name in response to a casual question two years ago. (Let me be clear, I do not mean to imply that David is supporting Pete; I don’t think he is backing anyone at this point.)

I first shook Mayor Pete’s hand in April at a fundraiser here in Evanston, IL.  I was mighty impressed by what he had to say and how he said it.  A good deal of due diligence followed.  I really took notice when my own mayor – Steve Hagerty – told me how much respect he had developed for Pete seeing him in action at meetings of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.  And, how much respect his fellow mayors had for Pete.  Steve pointed me to this piece in USA Today in September:

In it, “more than 50 mayors across the country – from Santa Monica, California, to Topeka, Kansas, to Harford, Connecticut” endorsed Pete.  The list also includes Minneapolis, Minnesota; Austin, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; Parkland, Florida; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Cincinnati, Ohio; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Kansas City, Missouri.

The mayors endorsing Pete Buttigieg include: Steve Adler (Austin, Texas), Nan Whaley (Dayton, Ohio), Christopher Cabaldon (West Sacramento, California), Justin Flippen (Wilton Manors, Florida), Christine Hunchsofsky (Parkland, Florida), Dean Trantalis (Fort Lauderdale, Florida), Betsy Hodges (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Annise Parker (Houston, Texas), Rob Moon (Palm Springs, California), John D’Amico (West Hollywood, California), Luke Bronin (Hartford, Connecticut), Liz Alpert (Sarasota, Florida), Michelle De La Isla (Topeka, Kansas), Jim Gray (Lexington, Kentucky), Patrick Wojahn (College Park, Maryland), John Cranley (Cincinnati, Ohio), Ian Baltutis (Burlington, North Carolina), John Hamilton (Bloomington, Indiana), Jacob Day (Salsbury, Maryland), Zach Vruwink (Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin), Matt Shorraw (Monessen, Pennsylvania), Breea Clark (Norman, Oklahoma), Gabriel Quinto (El Cerrito, California), Joe Signorello (Roselle Park, New Jersey), John Harabedian (Sierra Madre, California), Mark Kleinschmidt (Chapel Hill, North Carolina), Layla Walz (Wells, Nevada), Lydia Lavelle (Carrboro, North Carolina), Suzanne Prentis (Lebanon, New Hampshire), Ross Swords, Jr (Brownsville, Pennsylvania), Leirion Gaylor Baird (Lincoln, Nebraska), Kristopher Larsen (Nederland, Colorado), Noam Bramson (New Rochelle, New York), Steve Hagerty (Evanston, Illinois), David Berger (Lima, Ohio), Tari Renner (Bloomington, Illinois), Sly James (Kansas City, Missouri), Andy Berke (Chattanooga, Tennessee), Daniel Yost (Woodside, California), Ted Ellis (Bluffton, Indiana), Hugh Wirth (Oakland City, Indiana), Ron Strouse (Doylestown, Pennsylvania), Beth Bashert (Ypsilanti, Michigan), Duane Rosenberg (New Carrollton, Maryland), Shawn Raup-Konsavage (Bernville, Pennsylvania), Dave Kitchell (Logansport, Indiana), Rosalynn Bliss (Grand Rapids, Michigan), Tom McDermott (Hammond, Indiania), Henry Schwaller (Hays, Kansas), Greg Goodnight (Kokomo, Indiana), Mark Barbee (Bridgeport, Pennsylvania), Jim Carruthers (Traverse City, Michigan), Gleam Davis (Santa Monica, California), Ryan Arndorfer (Britt, Iowa), Brent Bascom (Rising Sun, Indiana), Gay Ann Harney (Rockport, Indiana), Ron Meer (Michigan City, Indiana), Gabriel Greer (Peru, Indiana).

These endorsements by his mayoral peers, including my own – were an important factor in my due diligence process.  And, one of the many reasons I’m actively supporting Pete.

Please, as always, pass it along.


December 5th, 2019|

PetePost #3: Listening To and Reading Pete

Hello Everyone,

When I was writing Obamagrams, I regularly urged everyone to not only listen to speeches Obama gave, but to read those speeches as well. The combination of the two gave you a much deeper understanding of Barack’s thinking than you could get from either in isolation.

Similarly, for those of you who haven’t done so already, I urge you to listen to at least some portion of some of Pete Buttigieg’s talks, and then read those portions, too.

In this Post and my next one, I will suggest doing just that, first with his speech announcing his candidacy in April in South Bend and then, in my next Post, his foreign policy speech in June. The latter is particularly relevant in light of recent events.

In 2007, I passed along the full text of Barack’s speech in 2002, declaring his opposition to the Iraq war. I said then that it was a “true measure of this man’s judgement and eloquence” because he wrote it “long before he had a fleet of advisors and speechwriters.”

The same can be said of Pete’s first speech as a candidate written without a fleet of advisors and speechwriters. After all, he has been writing his own political opinion pieces since he was a student at Harvard.

The following are some excerpts from the written text. You will note Pete’s gift for narrative and the primacy he places on values before policies. As he said in an interview around that time, “You know, our party has this tendency to lead with the policies. First, we’ve got to explain our values.”

Thank you to my fellow mayors, Mayor Cabaldon, Mayor Whaley, and Mayor Adler [all of whom introduced him], and all of the current and former mayors here today [more than 50 mayors have endorsed him.]…

I’m here today…to tell a different story than “Make America Great Again.”

Because there is a myth being sold to industrial and rural communities: the myth that we can stop the clock and turn it back…It comes from people who think the only way to reach communities like ours is through resentment and nostalgia, selling an impossible promise of returning to a bygone era that was never as great as advertised to begin with. The problem is, they’re telling us to look for greatness in all the wrong places…

The forces of change in our country today are tectonic. Forces that help to explain what made this current presidency even possible. That’s why, this time, it’s not just about winning an election — it’s about winning an era.

Not just about the next four years — it’s about preparing our country for a better life in 2030, in 2040, and in the year 2054, when, God willing, I will come to be the same age as our current President.

I take the long view because I have to. I come from the generation that grew up with school shootings as the norm, the generation that produced the bulk of the troops in the post-9/11 conflicts, the generation that is going to be on the business end of climate change for as long as we live…

The principles that will guide my campaign are simple enough to fit on a bumper sticker: freedom, security, and democracy [emphases added].

First comes freedom…Our conservative friends care about freedom, but only make it part of the journey. They only see “freedom from.” Freedom from taxes, freedom from regulation …[But] health care is freedom…Consumer protection is freedom…Racial justice is freedom…Women’s equality is freedom…

Now let’s talk about security. The idea that security and patriotism belong to one political party needs to end now.

We are here to say there’s a lot more to security than putting up a wall from sea to shining sea…Security means cybersecurity…And let’s pick our heads up to face what might be the great security issue of our time, climate change and disruption…So let’s call this what it is, climate security, a life and death issue for our generation.

Freedom. Security. And now let’s talk about democracy. Because no issue we care about …will be handled well unless our democracy is in better shape. It’s not democratic enough if legitimate voters are denied the opportunity to exercise their rights…And we can’t say it’s much of a democracy when twice in my lifetime, the Electoral College has overruled the American people…

The horror show in Washington is mesmerizing, all-consuming. But starting today, we are going to change the channel. Sometimes a dark moment brings out the best in us. What is good in us. Dare I say, what is great in us. I believe in American greatness. I believe in American values. And I believe that we can guide this country and one another to a better place…

We stand on the shoulders of optimistic women and men. Women and men who knew that optimism is not a lack of knowledge, but a source of courage. It takes courage to move on from the past…

After all, running for office, itself, is an act of hope. This afternoon, are you not hopeful? Don’t we live in a country that can overcome the bleakness of this moment? Are you ready to turn the page and write a new chapter in the American story?

Please find the full speech attached to this email.   Pete Buttigieg Campaign Kickoff Speech 4-14-19

By both listening to and reading Pete’s speeches, you will get a fuller appreciation for his values, the quality of his thinking, and his extraordinary ability to communicate them.

I will pass along his foreign policy speech in a few days. It was delivered in June, but couldn’t be more timely for the chaotic moment we’re living through right now.

Please, as always, pass it along.


January 7th, 2020|

PetePost #4: The Foreign Policy Speech

Hello Everyone,

As I said in my last commentary, when I was writing Obamagrams, I regularly urged everyone to not only listen to speeches Obama gave, but to read those speeches as well. Similarly, for those of you who haven’t done so already, I urge you to listen to at least some portions of some of Pete Buttigieg’s talks, and then read those portions, too.

In this Post, I am suggesting doing just that with the foreign policy speech he delivered in June. It is particularly relevant in light of recent events.

Please click on the image below to view the speech.

The following are some excerpts from the written text, highlighting its future orientation.

From the beginning, my campaign for president has been driven by the awareness that we face not just another presidential election, but a transition between one era and another, a fact of which the current presidency is as much a symptom as a cause. I believe that the next three or four years will determine the next thirty or forty for our country and our world…

I am thankful for this opportunity to share [my] worldview…

When I arrived in college in the fall of 2000, scholars were debating whether the end of the Cold War amounted to the End of History…By the time I finished my [graduate] studies in 2007, America was mired in two wars, its respect even among our allies had plummeted, and no one could be certain that the global future would be any better than the past…

Democrats can no more turn the clock back to the 1990s than Republicans can return us to the 1950s, and we should not try…
To cope with enormous change, American foreign policy for the future must be securely grounded in American values, American interests, and American relationships [emphases added]…

Countries with models that fly in the face of our values—from Chinese techno-authoritarianism to Russian oligarchic capitalism to anti-modern theocratic regimes in the Middle East—all present a major challenge to us…

Ironically, at the very moment when American prestige and respect is collapsing, it has never been more needed that America live up to the values we profess. The world needs the best of America right now…

…we need to invest in strategies to deal with less overt threats—political interference, proxy wars, cyberattacks, and the potential weaponization of economic and technological interdependence…

…perhaps the single best thing we can do to roll back authoritarianism abroad is to model the strength of inclusive democratic capitalism right here in the United States…
I want to emphasize the potential of climate diplomacy, and the kind of world we might build when climate stands alongside democracy and human rights as a central goal, and a source of legitimacy, for nations in global affairs…

…the world needs America to update the institutions through which we engage with the world, ensuring that they reflect the fact that our world is closer to 2054 than to 1945.

The U.S. has long sought to maintain total dominance in conventional war. But in the coming decades, we are more likely than ever to face insurgencies, asymmetric attacks, and high-tech strikes with cyber weapons or drones. Yet our latest defense budget calls for spending more on 3 Virginia-class submarines—$10.2 billion—than on cyber defenses. It proposes spending more on a single frigate than on artificial intelligence and machine learning…

In a world where data — and disinformation — dominate, we should revitalize our intelligence services…

To successfully navigate these dynamics and seize new opportunities will require a new generation of Americans — fluent in different languages and cultures, comfortable in a digital world, deeply committed to the American project.

A foreign policy that serves our people in their daily lives can best be made by government officials who represent the full diversity of our people. For far too long, our national security establishment has not reflected this diversity…

The world needs America. But not just any America. Not an America that has reduced itself to just one more player, scrapping its way through an amoral worldwide scrum for narrow advantage. It has to be America at our best…It has to be an America that knows how to make better the everyday life of its citizens and of people around the world, knowing how much one has to do with the other.

Please find the full speech attached to this email.

By both listening to and reading Pete’s speeches, you will get a fuller appreciation for his values, the quality of his thinking, and his extraordinary ability to communicate them.

Please, as always, pass it along.


Foreign Policy Speech 6-11-19

January 20th, 2020|

PetePost #5: At the Head of the Pack

Hello Everyone,

My wife, Penny Sebring, and I returned from Iowa late Tuesday, thrilled that Pete Buttigieg had established his position at the head of the pack of candidates that once totaled twenty-five or more.

This trip was a reprise of a similarly exciting one we embarked upon on New Year’s Day in 2008. On January 4, Penny was driving us home to Evanston, IL, from Grinnell, IA, and I was actually writing my 11th Obamagram in the car about Barack’s equally unexpected victory.

Penny is a Grinnell College alumna and was a long-time trustee, and it is one of my adopted college homes. That’s why we decided to spend three days in Grinnell canvassing for Barack and observing the caucus that was held in a College building. It was exhilarating to see him handily win that precinct. After the dust had settled, in a shocker, he had won 16 of Iowa’s delegates to 15 for Hillary Clinton, the presumed front-runner. It launched him into serious contention for the nomination.

In the process, I started to learn that delegates, not headlines about “winners,” were what really mattered. That point was driven home the following week when Hillary was declared by the press to be the winner in New Hampshire. But ultimately, she and Barack each received 9 of its delegates, so they really tied.

Having skipped 2016, Penny and I returned to Grinnell this past weekend to canvas for Pete and to observe another caucus.

This time was both different and the same. For us, it was going home again – which you can never really do. This time, one of the areas in which we knocked on doors was largely occupied by low income whites, even though it was less than a dozen blocks from an elite college that has one of the highest per capita endowments in the country. That neighborhood was on the edge of this handsome small town of 9,000 whose central district is on the National Register of Historic Places. We could imagine why some of those voters looked to Obama in ‘08 and ‘12 and then turned to Trump in ‘16 when their lives hadn’t changed perceptibly. Some have simply given up on the system.

We also visited with residents of a retirement community, middle-income suburbanites, academics, and students and attended a fundraising “gala” for the arts in Des Moines as guests of the College’s president. Many mini-lessons in sociology, anthropology, and political science.

The caucus for the College’s precinct was held in a larger venue on campus this time and was dominated by students who predictably backed the much more liberal Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Apropos to the occasion, a member of Thailand’s parliament told us years ago, “In politics, if there are no pictures, it didn’t happen.” (Coincidentally, after we met him, he introduced us to his niece who was in the process of applying to Grinnell College; she has since graduated.)

So, here is proof that we were “in the room where it happened.” These pictures from CNN’s coverage of the College’s caucus site were sent to us by a friend. Strangely, several other friends from home, from Florida, and, ironically, from Thailand told us they also saw us on T.V. (For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the guy with the “high forehead,” looking directly into the camera in the first picture. Penny is in the striped sweater in the second picture.)

As I write this, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders are virtually tied coming out of Iowa, signifying that Pete – a little-known mayor less than a year ago with an exotic name like Obama’s – is a serious contender for the nomination, going toe-to-toe with a candidate who has been campaigning for over five years now. It affirms my strong belief in Pete and his prospects to go all the way.

As I learned in 2008, this will be a marathon, not a sprint, and the slow accumulation of delegates is what really matters.

It will take money to sustain Pete, especially with Joe Biden’s stumble opening the “moderate” lane more fully to another former mayor – this one from New York City – with a net worth exceeding $50 billion – who is “self-funding” his entire unorthodox campaign. So, if you are so inclined, please chip in using this link to keep Pete’s momentum going.

Please, as always, pass it along.


February 6th, 2020|

PetePost #6: Headline — Pete is the Real Front Runner

Hello Everyone,

Well, it happened again. This time, Pete and Bernie tied in New Hampshire, but Bernie and the press claim that he won. Each got 9 delegates. Just like in 2008, when Hillary and the press claimed she won New Hampshire, when she and Barack actually tied – each got 9 delegates.

I warned about this in my last PetePost (#5).

Admittedly by the slimmest of margins, Pete is actually the “front runner” – because he leads in cumulative delegates, 22 to 21. Pete got 13 of Iowa’s delegates, one more than Bernie did, with one originally awarded to Pete being contested. (Elizabeth: 8 + 0 = 8; Amy: 1 + 6 = 7; and Joe: 6 + 0 = 6)

Primaries follow rules. Pledged Delegates are the coin of the realm. Just like Electoral College votes, not the popular vote – like it or not. (By the way, Pete wants to eliminate the Electoral College.)

For those who want to learn more about the centrality of delegates, I suggest that you read Obamagram #22 on “Baseball Rules.”–-chap-1-–-“baseball-rules”/

Rule number 7 is particularly relevant: primaries have cumulative scoring rules akin to baseball, not like tennis.

Finally, I believe that it might actually be good that the press is promoting Bernie as the “front-runner” for reasons that are not obvious, but relate to Michael Bloomberg, among other things. I might explain later.

The good news is that, so far, Pete is winning this baseball game.

Please, as always, pass it along.


February 13th, 2020|

PetePost #7: Bernie vs. Bloomberg

Hello Everyone,

In my last Post, I wrote that it might be good that the press has anointed Bernie Sanders the “front-runner” for reasons relating to Michael Bloomberg. And, I said I might explain. Well, now I’ll try.

This morning, an NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist national poll hit the news, indicating that Sanders is in the lead, with Bloomberg and Biden in second and third places, respectively (remember, however, how unreliable polling can be – think about Biden’s big lead for months on end in this cycle and Hillary’s lead in late October 2016.)

I have been expecting Bernie to take the lead in challenging Michael’s record at some point. I suspect that time has now arrived because Bernie has taken on the mantle of the front-runner so sees victory nearer at hand and because of his feisty personality. He will have a good deal of material to work with.

Here are two references that offer cautionary book-end tales about Michael Bloomberg.

I hadn’t known much about Bloomberg’s character until I happened across a piece in The Atlantic published in September 2019, the month before he announced his candidacy. Here’s an excerpt:

…a presidential run…would not be an easy candidacy. “Mr. Bloomberg,” the [New York] Times points out, “is plainly an uncomfortable match for a progressive coalition passionately animated by concern for economic inequality and the civil rights of women and minorities”… What is not fully addressed in the Times article, however—and what is not fully explored in the many similar pieces that consider the current iteration of Mike Bloomberg’s presidential ambitions—is a series of stories about him, accumulated over decades, that suggests in the aggregate a distinct pattern when it comes to his treatment of women: reports of disparaging comments made about women’s bodies and appearances. Allegations of a deeply sexist work environment at the company that Bloomberg founded and, for many years, ran.”

Then, last Sunday, Charles Blow headlined his column in the New York Times: “Democrats, Don’t Wish for Your Own Rogue: Bloomberg’s record and misleading statements make him a dangerous choice”

Blow’s lead paragraph:

It is truly a devastating sight to watch liberals who have winced for years at Donald Trump’s issues on wealth, race and women allow fear, propaganda and influence mercenaries to push them into supporting a man [Bloomberg] who has his own issues concerning wealth, women and race [emphases added].

It will be fascinating to watch how Bernie, the front-runner, confronts Bloomberg, his supposedly closest challenger, starting in tomorrow night’s debate. I imagine that this confrontation, and others like it, will ultimately inure to Pete’s benefit.

Please, as always, pass it along.


February 18th, 2020|

PetePost #8: Reading Pete

Hello Everyone,

So far, only 3 of the 57 constituencies (50 states, DC, 5 territories, and Democrats Abroad) have held nominating contests.

Bernie Sanders has been breathlessly declared the “front-runner,” despite having won only 45 of the 2,268 Pledged Delegates that he would have to win to secure the nomination outright. That is a mere 2% of what is needed. That compares to Pete Buttigieg’s total of 25 Pledged Delegates, or 1.1% of the total needed.

It seems awfully premature to declare that Bernie has the nomination in his grasp. Remember, it’s all about delegates, not about “states won” or any other irrelevant metric. Even then, in terms of delegates, Pete has won one state (IA), Bernie has won one state (NV), and they tied in the third (NH).

Pledge Delegates, State By State (source: New York Times)

(Pledged Delegates Needed to Win Nomination outright: 2,268)


Total Undec. Biden Bloomberg Buttigieg Klobuchar Sanders


IA (2/3) 41 1 6 13 1 12 8
NH (2/6) 24 9 6 9
NV (2/22) 36 9 3 24
Running Totals 101 1 15 25 7 45 8

Now, back to more substantive matters. As I have written before, I think it is important to listen to Pete – and to read him – in order to take the full measure of the man.

I made the same recommendations about Barack Obama, going so far as to direct my readers in a 2011 Obamagram (#55) to a book entitled Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition. It was written by Prof. James T. Kloppenberg, a specialist in the field of intellectual history who was then chair of the History Department at Harvard.

Kloppenberg has recently written a similar, deeply intelligent article examining original-source evidence of the decades-long development of Buttigieg’s political philosophy.  A former Grinnell College president and friend just alerted me to it.

I cannot do justice in this space to Prof. Kloppenberg’s sweeping article. But, here is a sampling to encourage you to delve into it yourself.

…the big surprise [in this Democratic primary] has been the meteoric rise of a formerly unknown newcomer, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who seemed to come out of nowhere.

Except that he did not. I have known Buttigieg since he was an undergraduate at Harvard. I taught [him] in two classes during his senior year…He was a frequent visitor to office hours, and seeing him two or three times a week during nine months meant that we became pretty well acquainted. We stayed in touch after he graduated…

Since Buttigieg launched his campaign for the presidency last year, I have read or reread much of what he has written, at Harvard and since…

I required [students] interested [in my courses] to write an essay explaining why…and to meet with me…

…the final sentences of [Pete’s] essay are intriguing.

The importance of understanding American social thought also extends beyond my education itself and [I plan] to work in politics…Knowing the intellectual context of familiar events in political history is essential…if I am to stand my ground convincingly and seriously in the political present

[In my course,] the question that engaged Buttigieg more than any other [was:] How could Americans unite politically when American culture was becoming increasingly polarized? [emphasis added; notice how that is still a central theme of Pete’s campaign today]…

In his 2003–04 Crimson [the student newspaper] columns, Buttigieg’s running commentary on political developments eerily foreshadows our situation in 2019–20…
[He] observed that the Democrats so far had offered only “a complaint, not an argument.” They needed instead a compelling positive program to unite the nation…

I concluded [my] letter [of recommendation for his Rhodes scholarship] with a judgment that still rings true to me.

I admire his talent, his agility, and his devotion to public service…He unquestionably has the capacity to excel at Oxford and afterwards. He thinks clearly and writes beautifully. Beyond his obvious talent, he has a backbone. It is his strength of character, the depth of his democratic convictions, that will make him a forceful presence in American public life…

Buttigieg followed a well-worn path of Rhodes Scholars at Oxford, studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics…he was trying to tie together theory and practice…

Nothing about Buttigieg’s glittering résumé incenses his many critics on the left as much as his time with McKinsey…In his memoir, Buttigieg explains he had been prepared for a career “in public service, inquiry, and the arts, not business. But I knew that I would have to understand business if I wanted to make myself useful in practice…”

Attending Anglican services at Oxford…he remained convinced that the Gospel message enjoins us to attend to society’s outcasts rather than celebrate or defend the wealthy and prosperous…

One of the striking features of Buttigieg’s hundreds of campaign appearances has been their consistency… he lays out his own vision of a nation committed less to individual success and unregulated free enterprise than to the values of compassion, strength, and morality that he articulated almost two decades ago…[That] also helps explain the uneasiness of many young people on the left when they hear Buttigieg use that language rather than Warren’s or Sanders’s calls to battle…

The most durable goal of American democracy has always been the common good, not the rights of individuals or the good of particular segments of the population. Buttigieg shares that commitment [emphasis added]…Yet that ideal is deeply rooted in American history. When skeptics express their concern that a thirty-eight year old has the experience necessary for the presidency, I remind them that another champion of the idea of the common good, James Madison, was thirty-six years old in 1787, when he played a pivotal role at the Constitutional Convention and wrote his perennially influential essays in The Federalist. Youth does not necessarily mean immaturity, nor…does good judgment necessarily come with age…

Like Obama, though, and unlike the most strident of his critics on the left, who see Buttigieg as nothing more than a moderate who lacks convictions, he understands that hatred and intransigence are not the cure for what ails American politics. They are the disease [emphasis added].

By “reading Pete”—just like “reading Obama” – you will see why I am so firmly in Pete’s camp.

Please, as always, pass it along.


February 26th, 2020|

PetePost #9: Goodbye, Pete — For Now

PetePost #9: Goodbye, Pete – For Now

Hello Everyone,

Last night’s announcement came as a surprise to me, as I’m sure it was to most of you. While sad, I trust Pete’s judgement, believing that this was the right thing to do, at the right time.

I will wait for his lead in deciding who to support now.

I want to thank you for reading my commentaries and, to many, for supporting Pete in various ways. I assure you that these will prove to be worthwhile long-term investments.

Pete’s speech announcing the decision last night was as substantive and eloquent as we’ve come to expect of him.

In my customary fashion, I urge you to watch it (Pete comes on at minute 8):

And, to read it.

While I don’t have a full manuscript, here are some highlights I gleaned from the version I recorded.

We got into this race for a reason…to usher in a new kind of politics. And, that meant guiding our campaign by the values we like to call the “Rules of the Road.” Respect. Belonging. Truth. Teamwork. Boldness. Responsibility. Substance. Discipline. Excellence. And, Joy…

the only way we will defeat Trump and Trumpism is with a new politics that gathers people together. We need leadership to heal a divided nation, not drive us further apart. We need a broad-based agenda…not one that gets lost in ideology…

Today, more than ever, politics matters because leaders can…draw us to either our better or to our worst selves. Politics at its worst is ugly, but at its best, politics can lift us up. It is not just policy-making, it is moral, it is soul craft…

[I] wonder how the 2020’s will be remembered when I am an old man…

I firmly believe that in these years, in our time, we can and will make American life in politics more like what it could be. Not just more wise and more prosperous, but more equitable and more just and more decent…

Imagine how proud we would be to be the generation that saw the day when your race has no bearing on your health or your wealth or your relationship with law enforcement…What if we could be the ones to deliver the day when our teachers are honored a little more like soldiers and paid a little more like doctors. What if we were the ones to rally this nation to see to it that climate would be no barrier to our childrens’ opportunities in life…

That is the future we believe in…a future where everyone belongs.

For those of you who still want to study Pete – for future reference – it is instructive to see how long he has been developing the political philosophy that undergirds his current worldview.

Someone recently sent me a copy of the last column Pete wrote in 2004 for the Crimson (Harvard’s student newspaper). It is both remarkable for a 22-year-old and as a harbinger of things to come (see attachment).

He begins: “Last year, I wrote that the American left is losing a struggle for language, as conservatives masterfully redefine the political lexicon.”

He goes on to write, “Here are a few suggested entries for a recovered dictionary.” Then, he discusses three: compassion, strength, and morality.

Notice how the words equitable, decent, and moral found their way into his vocabulary on the campaign trail and his valedictory last night.

Now I’m ready to follow Pete wherever he heads in this campaign and future ones. I hope you will, too.


The Liberal Art of Redefinition The Harvard Crimson Buttigieg 5-28-2004


March 2nd, 2020|

PetePost #10: I’m All In For Joe

Hello Everyone,

In my last Post, I said I would “wait for [Pete’s] lead in deciding who to support now.” Shortly thereafter, Pete endorsed Joe Biden. So, I’m all in for Joe now.

I am for Joe because he shares Pete’s values and many of his qualities – humanity, integrity, temperament, and decency. Qualities we desperately need at this fragile moment.

I fully recognize that he doesn’t have Pete’s eloquence and will make innumerable “gaffes”, but I can live with that. In fact, some of his past gaffes have been of historic importance – in the most positive sense. The one I remember best was when he got out ahead of President Obama in support of same-sex marriage. That turned out well, ironically for Pete, and for untold others.

Joe’s humanity and decency were on full display on Monday night when he responded to Pete’s endorsement. Here are some excerpts:

I don’t know if I’ve ever done this before, but [Pete] reminds me of my son Beau…the highest compliment I can give any man or woman.

…The reason I admire him so much…is that he knows that the role of the president is not just to fight, not just to win, but to heal…this country needs to be healed…Pete gets it…

I look over at Pete during the debates and I think…“that’s a Beau” because he has such enormous character, such intellectual capacity, such a commitment to other people…

I promise you…over your lifetime, you’re going to wind up seeing a helluva lot more of Pete than you are of me.

In this case, you should really listen to the recording of it.
It’s both emotional and revealing. And, it says as much about Joe’s humanity as it does about Pete’s capacity and potential. It shows you why we need Joe now more than ever.

Please, as always, pass it along.


March 4th, 2020|
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