Pete Buttigieg: The ‘outsider’ who is actually a neoliberal insider

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has got a lot of mileage and positive press with his claims of being a religious person and mayor of a small rust-belt Midwest town and thus an outsider to the swamp of Washington politics. But as his campaign has gained ground and peoplelook more closely at his background, that veneer has started peeling off, revealing him to be very much a part of the national security state. Max Blumenthal writes that he is very much a political insider being groomed by the neoliberal establishment and the ‘liberal interventionist’ faction of US politics.

Blumenthal looks at the parts of Buttigieg’s resume that he does not talk much about, starting with Tulsi Gabbard’s criticism of Buttigieg’s support for sending US troops to Mexico to fight the drug cartels, and his angry and defensive response.

The remarkable dust-up highlighted a side of the 37-year-old political upstart that has been scarcely explored in mainstream US media accounts of his rise to prominence. It revealed the real Buttigieg as a neoliberal cadre whose future was carefully managed by the mandarins of the national security state since almost the moment that he graduated from Harvard University.

After college, the Democratic presidential hopeful took a gig with a strategic communications firm founded by a former Secretary of Defense who raked in contracts with the arms industry. He moved on to a fellowship at an influential DC think tank described by its founder as “a counterpart to the neoconservatives of the 1970s.” Today, Buttigieg sits on that think tank’s board of advisors alongside some of the country’s most accomplished military interventionists.

Buttigieg has reaped the rewards of his dedication to the Beltway playbook. He recently became the top recipient of donations from staff members of the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and the Justice Department – key cogs in the national security state’s permanent bureaucracy.

On the presidential campaign trail, “Mayor Pete” has done his best to paper over the instincts he inherited from his benefactors among the national security state. But as the campaign drags on, his interventionist tendencies are increasingly exposed. Having padded his resume in America’s longest and most futile wars, he may be poised to extend them for a new generation to fight.

As Bernie Sanders pointed out at the last debate, Buttigieg is second only to Joe Biden (by the small margin of 39 to 44) in the number of billionaires who support his candidacy.

Buttigieg’s history working for the consulting firm McKinsey has also shone the spotlight onto that company’s unsavory role as a kind of consigliere to various unsavory industries and global despots.

THE POWERFUL GLOBAL consulting firm McKinsey is facing scrutiny over its work for a wide range of shady governments and companies. This week on Intercepted: Former senior health insurance executive-turned-whistleblower Wendell Potter explains McKinsey’s role in our insurance nightmare and how Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is using industry talking points to attack Medicare for All.

ProPublica reporter Ian MacDougall discusses McKinsey’s relationship with the Saudi regime, its work for Rikers Island, and how it helped push opioids to doctors and patients. MacDougall also lays out his reporting on how McKinsey’s work for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in detaining and deporting immigrants disturbed career immigration officials.

McDougall’s articles on McKinsey can be read here and here, and the role the company played in recommending the awful treatment of immigrant detainees by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

They proposed cuts in spending on food for migrants, as well as on medical care and supervision of detainees, according to interviews with people who worked on the project for both ICE and McKinsey and 1,500 pages of documents obtained from the agency after ProPublica filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act.

McKinsey’s team also looked for ways to accelerate the deportation process, provoking worries among some ICE staff members that the recommendations risked short-circuiting due process protections for migrants fighting removal from the United States. The consultants, three people who worked on the project said, seemed focused solely on cutting costs and speeding up deportations — activities whose success could be measured in numbers — with little acknowledgment that these policies affected thousands of human beings.

In what one former official described as “heated meetings” with McKinsey consultants, agency staff members questioned whether saving pennies on food and medical care for detainees justified the potential human cost.

When you come out badly in comparison with ICE, then you must be really terrible.


  1. says

    He’s a big-money machine pol; they’re trying for Obama 2.0: a candidate that is just unusual enough that liberals make the mistake of assuming he’s one of them.

  2. says

    There are also some pretty interesting conspiracy theories that he’s CIA.
    Me, I don’t buy that, unless CIA has gotten over its institutional homophobia. Which I doubt it is capable of.

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