Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has been on family leave since August, and no one in the Biden administration seemed to care. According to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, the meltdown at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are problems caused by the previous administration, and they are “tackling” it.
Like many other problems we have inherited, we are tackling the supply chain mess. https://t.co/VB49q59B5l
— Ronald Klain (@WHCOS) October 13, 2021
While U.S. ports faced anchor-to-anchor traffic and Congress nearly melted down over the president’s infrastructure bill in recent weeks, the usually omnipresent Transportation secretary was lying low.
One of the White House’s go-to communicators didn’t appear on TV. He was absent on Capitol Hill during the negotiations over the bill he had been previously helping sell to different members of Congress. Conservative critics tried (unsuccessfully) to get #WheresPete to trend and Fox News ran a story on October 4 with the headline: “Buttigieg quiet on growing port congestion as shipping concerns build ahead of holidays.”
They didn’t previously announce it, but Buttigieg’s office told West Wing Playbook that the secretary has actually been on paid leave since mid-August to spend time with his husband, Chasten, and their two newborn babies.
“For the first four weeks, he was mostly offline except for major agency decisions and matters that could not be delegated,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Transportation. “He has been ramping up activities since then.” As he does that, Buttigieg will “continue to take some time over the coming weeks to support his husband and take care of his new children,” the spokesperson added.
I would be curious to hear the responses from the peanut gallery if Buttigieg were a female Secretary of Transportation who was also part of a Republican administration.
In the midst of what is a true transportation infrastructure crisis, when the head of the transportation arms of our nation should be giving insight and working on solutions, Howdy Doody Buttigieg is deer in the headlights, talking about everything but the supply-chain issues.
Buttigieg made sure he tweeted about “Indigenous People’s Day” and Climate resilience.
We are tackling the climate crisis, which is challenging the safety, effectiveness, equity & sustainability of our infrastructure & the people that use it. Here’s how @USDOT will help lead the way. https://t.co/ywt8x5pSA9
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) October 7, 2021
It took a minute after his return from maternity leave for this feckless cabinet member to actually begin talking about the crisis the people of our nation are actually concerned about, and wouldn’t you know it? Buttigieg managed to fail spectacularly with each appearance. His appearance on CNN with Brianna Keilar was particularly egregious, as Buttigieg made a poorly timed, and ill-conceived joke about late Christmas shoppers.
When asked about the broken supply chain in America Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg responds with a joke mocking late Christmas shoppers.
This administration sucks. pic.twitter.com/wb7d0X5sgD
— ForAmerica (@ForAmerica) October 14, 2021
Since Oct. 7, Buttigieg has appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” “MSNBC with Geoff Bennett,” CNN’s “New Day,” CNBC’s “Morning Bell,” Bloomberg TV’s “Balance of Power,” and the NPR Politics Podcast. He participated in virtual events to promote the infrastructure bill with the Commercial Club of Chicago and the Citizen Budget Commission of New York. He also attended a high-profile meeting with President JOE BIDEN Wednesday on supply chain bottlenecks.
So basically, Buttigieg is as useful as he was when we didn’t know he was on maternity leave.
I am convinced that much of this is staged. Part of the Biden administration’s “Build Back Better” agenda is enhanced family leave, and not just for those other birthing people. The timing of Buttigieg and his husband Chasten having children, and the timing of this infrastructure bill that Biden desperately wants passed being on the chopping block, are suspect.
Of course, POLITICO has to end its article with a plug for this new way of being.
Buttigieg’s time away to help care for his children is the latest example of paid leave for new parents becoming more common in the United States, even at the highest levels of government.
Also suspect is the fanfare over Buttigieg’s return to Washington, D.C. As if coming back to do your job is supposed to get you a parade. Buttigieg flew through O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, and just happened to run into IL Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Milker)
— Sasha Michelle (@SashaMichelleA) October 13, 2021
Overly glossy optics and useless gestures seem to be hallmarks for this administration. So far, the Secretary of Transportation has not been doing his job, and he may as well have just stayed home, as Mr. Mom may well be the role for him. Handling the nation’s transportation infrastructure certainly is not.