Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg was tested over the holidays, and he didn’t receive a passing grade.
(Subscribe to Our YouTube Channel Here.)
Buttigieg endured a calamity during the busy travel season where at least 16,000 flights were canceled, mostly on Southwest Airlines, leaving thousands of travelers with no options but to remain stranded at their point of origin.
This was a crisis in which Buttigieg could have shined but he seemingly stayed quiet during much of the debacle and was caught flat-footed, even rankling some Democratic critics in addition to the right.
Did His Strongly-Worded Letter to Southwest Make a Difference?
To be fair, Buttigieg did finally write a letter during the fiasco that started with a deep freeze of cold weather that initially was the culprit of the canceled flights, but other carriers besides Southwest recovered quickly and maintained service during the crisis.
The letter to Southwest CEO Bob Jordan criticized the corporate leader for seemingly abandoning the passengers who Buttigieg said “missed time with loved ones during the holidays.” The Transportation Secretary also reminded Jordan of all the people who lost luggage over Christmas.
Bitten By the Left
Criticism from progressive legislators likely surprised Buttigieg. Democrat Congressman Ro Khanna of California said on Twitter that “this mess with Southwest could have been avoided.”
Khanna was frustrated with Buttigieg because he and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont had previously called on the Department of Transportation to institute harsh penalties for delays and canceling flights after a similar problem over the Fourth of July holiday in 2022.
Their proposed regulatory action would fine airlines $27,500 per person for all domestic flights that are delayed more than two hours and all international flights that are delayed more than three hours.
Buttigieg Missing In Action
Pete Buttigieg ignored these recommendations and was also criticized for taking a vacation in Portugal during key negotiations with railroad workers last year.
Buttigieg’s Surprising Rise
The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana was seen as an underdog during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, but he performed well in the early stages of the process and during debates with keen speaking ability and an earnest manner that allowed him to successfully fund-raise across the country.
Buttigieg, 40, is believed to be the future of the Democratic party which needs new blood and a deeper bench of presidential candidates.
Biden Is Still In Charge of His Party
Before the 2022 Midterm elections when many predicted a “Red Wave” of Republican wins, Buttigieg was seen as someone who could even enter into a primary against a weakened President Joe Biden.
However, the Democrats deftly avoided major electoral damage and performed better than expected. This served to cement Biden’s control over the party and mostly ended speculation that he would be primaried in 2024.
Recovery from the Crisis
Meanwhile, flights from Southwest have resumed to normal. I flew with my family on Southwest from Dallas, Texas to Washington, DC on December 30 and had no problems. So Buttigieg has passed through the worst of the crisis. Passengers affected by the cancellations are slowly getting refunds and receiving their luggage.
What Does the Future Hold for Pete Buttigieg?
The future of Buttigieg’s career is less certain. He is young enough to improve his standing in the party and hone leadership skills, but this catastrophe has blunted his rise to the top. He may be seen by some politicos in Washington as a lightweight, but that criticism may not carry over to the rank and file in the Democratic party.
Provided nothing happens to Biden and he wins re-election, Buttigieg has some political capital left to weather this storm and continue on. But one more slip-up could cost him. His reputation as an effective leader is in the balance.
It would probably be best if he remains in Washington throughout his tenure and tries to stay ahead of crises and be prepared to rise to the occasion when called upon.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.
January 3, 2023 at 9:41 am
Buttigieg is a nothing, an absence, a non entity that exposes the Dem Oarty paucity of talent
Mayor of South Bend runs for President should be a joke not reality.
Dr. Scooter Van Neuter
January 3, 2023 at 7:15 pm
Obtaining high office primarily on the basis of one’s mental illness and commie-wannabe aspirations pretty much tells you all to need to know about this mouth-breather’s qualifications to run a nation.
January 3, 2023 at 9:36 pm
Pete is pretty, talks nice, and his shirts are whiter than white, .. but generally worthless.
January 4, 2023 at 3:07 pm
So Pete is supposed to know how incompetent and miserly Southwest Airlines is? Southwest refused to pony up for a modern airline crew scheduling software package. When the national weather went bad, and their own incompetent management in Denver triggered a meltdown on the airline. Their old software couldn’t handle the rescheduling of flight crews, so that had to wait about three days until they were free to schedule crews without using their out-of-date software package. Maybe you should have more information before you shoot off your mouth. Or more likely you found a good excuse to spout your own prejudice.
January 4, 2023 at 5:58 pm
I was always amused by the notion of the mayor of a small city becoming President. South Bend is the 335th largest city in the US, with a population of a little over 100K, 1.2% that of NYC. It would be like making the coach of an average high school football team the coach of a top NFL team.
January 5, 2023 at 12:26 pm
this is nothing but a right-wing hit piece by committed fascists who couldn’t notice anything good about Pete if he brought about world peace and cured cancer. He’s done a million effective things at transpo and he’s done it without regard to whether a state votes red or blue. But one extraordinary act of nature and you criticize him for not micro-managing the day-to-day operations of one airline. His work is especially in contrast to his predecessor whose stewardship was marked by corruption, bribery, and cronyism and generally got very little done. Ya’ll can’t wait for a return to that.
January 6, 2023 at 1:49 am
Pete is a joke on the idiots who appointed him to the job. Another great accomplishment of the liberal Democrats who are good at managing nothing but self destruction !
January 6, 2023 at 2:13 pm
This clown Buttigieg is useless, besides having a mental illness he has done nothing while in office, needs to be run out of political office and out of America.
January 6, 2023 at 3:41 pm
I actually like Pete, but since he has been in nothing eemsd to happen! I ride “Amtrack” and the Boston to Chicago run is 22 hours. The Dining car comes on at Albany, leaving at 7:05 P.M. Itis a nice new dining car which i think was delivered about 3 or 4 years ago, it runs every day in both ways on the “Lake Shore Limited” it has a nice kitchen and is a pleasant dining car, BUT it has NO COOKS or STAFF, just a nie young lady that micowaves pre maid dinners for the sleeping car passengers. How much must those cars weigh to be pulled back and forth every day. We as Passengers deserve more than those pre maid dinners for the price we pay in the sleeping cars, and all pasengers should be able to enjoy good hospitality for the trip.
David Wilder McCaleb
January 7, 2023 at 2:11 am
Pete is pretty well liked and admired in the industry he is regulating, and that is after almost 2 years at the helm of Dept. of Transportation. This industry is pretty conservative, but he has won their trust with good, fairly-balanced decisions.
“For a first-year DOT secretary, I’m very impressed with what he’s gotten done,” former DOT official Mort Downey told FreightWaves. As the longest serving U.S. deputy secretary of transportation (1993-2001) who has worked with or met every DOT secretary except one (Claude Brinegar), Downey is in a good position to offer a perspective.
Downey is not the only one. Personal experience shows me that he puts performance over politics. I’m impressed.
January 8, 2023 at 5:51 pm
Anyone that think that Mayor Butt is doing anything good for this country are either totally clueless or have been living under a rock somewhere. Go ask his past constituents in South Bend what they think of him. He couldn’t do the Mayors job there, so how could anyone with even the smallest amount of common sense think he could be the leader of this nation. Don’t reply that “he could surround himself will well versed cabinet. You would only get the same fools that are in this administrations cabinet, who are already the worst.
January 9, 2023 at 12:25 pm
One of the most pointless articles that has ever been written.
Congratulations on saying nothing meaningful and wasting my time. I hope I never have the misfortune of stumbling across an article you author ever again.
I will summarize what you wrote
1. The way he handled the situation was a disaster of epic proportions, but in the big-picture it was a small thing and he handled it reasonably well.
2. He has ABSOLUTELY no political future based on this single event. But he has positioned himself to potentially become president.
3. If he surrounds himself with idiots if he is ever elected to be president it might turn out bad and he should try to hire competent people.
What a pointless and dumb article you wrote. Honestly you should be ashamed at how awful this actually is and consider doing something else with your life.
January 9, 2023 at 3:01 pm
He isn’t ready for this upcoming term. This doesn’t rule him out on being the next candidate for the democrats however.