Pete Buttigieg – whose race for president this cycle may be distinguished by “lasting longer than A-Klo’s” and not much more – stood out from most of the rest of the Democrat field by being a veteran.
This stands out among typical Democrats in more or less the same way a nun at a Mormon missionary at a Slayer concert does.
And, like those Slayer fans, they don’t really know what to do about the interloper from another universe – what questions to ask, what lessons to learn?
Three things stand out about his brief sojourn in the Navy: One, he joined via direct commission. This, to most veterans, is a jaw-dropper. To say the least, this isn’t the way it’s usually done. Many of us recall the intensive pre-commission training (in my case, four years of ROTC in Connecticut and Advanced Camp with the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg) as the most trying intervals of our careers. Others spent four years at Annapolis or West Point. Buttigieg just skipped all of that. He passed a physical. He signed some papers. Voila. To put this in terms a liberal might understand: Imagine you heard that someone got a “direct diploma” from Harvard but didn’t actually have to do four years of papers and tests. You’d never forget it. You’d probably think of that person primarily as a short-cut specialist for the rest of your life.
Then there’s the little matter of his political role model – John Kerry. As in, someone who explicitly used a brief tour in the service as a stepping stone to politics, over the bodies of his erstwhile comrades.
And Smith notes how “off” some of Mayor Pete’s schtick feels to peolple who have been there: Like Buttigieg’s references to the nujmber of times he left his camp in Afghanistan:
Has anyone who has ever served the U.S. military on overseas land not driven around? When he launched his campaign last April he bragged about “119 trips I took outside the wire, driving or guarding a vehicle.” That’s . . . not a thing. There are no such stats. Sorties in aircraft are an official military statistic. Motor-vehicle trips are so routine no one would bother to keep track, any more than someone would log how many times Pete Buttigieg took a shower. No one cares. So Buttigieg himself created this phony statistic. Picture it: He made himself a little Hero’s Log but all he had to put in it was “routine trips.” It’s pathetic. It’s hilarious. It’s apple-polishing, resume-buffing, box-checking, attention-seeking vaporware. Just like his whole career.
Democrats are well aware of the reverence most people have for veterans, and especially the reticence people have , after 18 years of war, for criticizing veterans of any kind in any way.
As someone who’s a fairly committed student of military history, I’m every more so.
Buttigieg has talked about the 119 times he says he crossed “outside the wire,” leaving the relative safety of the base as a vehicle commander on convoy security detail in dangerous parts of Kabul.
“In a ritual to be repeated dozens of times, I would heave my armored torso into the driver’s seat of a Land Cruiser, chamber a round in my M4, lock the doors and wave a gloved goodbye to the Macedonian gate guard,” Buttigieg wrote. “My vehicle would cross outside the wire and into the boisterous Afghan city, entering a world infinitely more interesting and ordinary and dangerous than our zone behind the blast walls at ISAF headquarters.”
I don’t know much – and I’ll defer to any combat-arms vets in the house – but I’m fairly sure that “vehicle commanders” don’t ride in the driver’s seat. Drives drive. “Vehicle commanders” in convoys in combat areas don’t; they focus on navigating, communicating, and above all maintaining situational awareness.
So yeah – I’ve got questions,.