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Tipsheet

GOP Attacks Over Pete Buttigieg's Incompetence Triggers His Aides

AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Yeah, it’s ‘dump on Pete’ Friday, and he has earned every penny. Yet, I will say there have been many instances regarding Mayor Pete’s visit to Ohio where better word choice could have been considered. When answering questions from the media, Buttigieg apologized for “losing his train of thought.” East Palestine, Ohio, is the site of a toxic train crash earlier this month. It took two weeks for the Biden White House to sign off on the Federal Emergency Management Agency distributing disaster aid. It took longer for Pete to address the crash, which could rapidly become an environmental fiasco; the clean-up could take years.

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Residents are rightfully reticent to drink the water after hearing mixed messages from federal officials regarding safety. In many ways, the people of East Palestine are on their own. While Biden has been criticized for his lethargic response to the crash, Buttigieg taking the most heat recently, which had chipped away at the transportation secretary’s saint-like patience. Politico had an unintentionally hilarious piece about how the aides of the besieged Biden official are equally annoyed with the attacks against their boss, declaring that Pete is taking an “unfair pounding” over the disaster (via Politico): 

This month’s toxic derailment in a small Ohio village has put Pete Buttigieg under pressure like never before — leaving him scrambling to contain a public health and transportation crisis only partially under his purview while absorbing the brunt of attacks from the Biden administration’s adversaries. 

Publicly and privately, signs are growing that the Transportation secretary’s usual Eagle Scout patience is giving way to frustration. 

He has gotten into Twitter spats with U.S. senators. His curt brush-off of a Daily Caller reporter who ambushed him during a walk turned into a viral video that has drawn more than 3 million views since Tuesday night. And on Wednesday, Buttigieg’s allies were complaining that he’s taking an unfair pounding over the disaster — all because of his perceived ambitions as a one-time and future presidential hopeful. 

“Pete Buttigieg has taken a lot of bullets for the president on this,” one senior Democrat said Wednesday, insisting on anonymity to talk about a crisis that the person was not authorized to discuss.

Still, Buttigieg acknowledged in a CBS News interview Tuesday that he “could have spoken sooner about how strongly I felt about this incident, and that’s a lesson learned for me.”

For Buttigieg, a former Indiana mayor and one of the Biden administration’s most avid political communicators, what began as a rail and ecological calamity has mushroomed in just 20 days into his most serious test yet as leader of the sprawling Department of Transportation. 

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He hasn’t managed it well, which is a grade that could be applied to his handling of the supply chain crisis, for which he bolted his duties for paternity leave. Pete also failed to clean up the aviation travel nightmare that crippled scores of families over Christmas. Like Biden, he’s a ‘go through the motions' type of government worker, which doesn’t cut it.

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