In 1973, the writer Andrew Tobias published his autobiography, “The Best Little Boy in the World,” under the pen name of John Reid. Tobias was not the first or last gay man who tried to compensate for his sexual orientation by striving to be the best in all his endeavors.
Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., is another good example of “the best little boy in the world.” In spite of his last name, pronounced “boot-edge-edge,” Mayor Pete has an impressive resume, chronicled in his recently-published book “The Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future.” He was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve, serving in Afghanistan; a Rhodes scholar at the University of Oxford; a business analyst for a global management consulting firm; and, since 2011, mayor of South Bend. As Troy Mallis put it, “Buttigieg is attractive, charismatic, witty, down-to-earth and smart as a whip — perfect husband material.” (But he’s already married.) He is multilingual in a country where most people, including the president, can barely speak one language. All that Buttigieg has left to do is run for president, and as a Democrat.
When Mayor Pete announced his candidacy, most pundits put him down as a flash in the pan, soon to be replaced by more “serious” candidates. But Buttigieg has proven to be quite resilient. Public opinion polls have placed the mayor in third place, just behind the old warhorses, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Even Donald Trump, who likes to insult anyone who dares to oppose him, took notice when he called Mayor Pete “Alfred E. Neuman,” after MAD magazine’s cover boy. (There is some resemblance.) On his web page, peteforamerica.com, Buttigieg declares that “It’s time for a new generation of American leadership” after decades of misgovernment by baby boomers like Trump, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Though he is only 37, the youngest serious candidate for president — 20-year-old Elijah Manley does not count — Buttigieg reminds us that he “has more years of government experience than the president, more years of executive government experience than the vice president, and more military experience than anybody to walk into the Oval Office since President George H. W. Bush.”
But even Pete Buttigieg has his faults, which his Democratic opponents were quick to point out. Buttigieg is a butch, white, cisgender male, which should not be held against him, but which is reflected by his limited views and by the lack of diversity at his campaign rallies (which are almost, but not quite, as white as the makeup of the Trump rallies.) Buttigieg realizes his shortcoming and is trying hard to reach out to African-Americans and other minorities. Mayor Pete has also been criticized for being long on generalizations and short on specifics, unlike policy wonks like Elizabeth Warren. Finally, there is the fact that Pete Buttigieg is gay, which should not be a detriment, but which still is in a largely homophobic country. In any case, voters who hate Pete because he is gay are voting for Trump regardless of his sexual orientation.
Like most “best little boys in the world,” Pete Buttigieg is happily married. His husband is Chasten Glezman, who changed his name to Buttigieg and who is famous for his social media accounts. The couple own two rescue dogs, Truman and Buddy, though they plan to have a child some day. Though Pete Buttigieg is in the eighth and final year as mayor of South Bend, he has a bright future ahead of him, even if he is not elected president. I look forward to greater achievements from Pete Buttigieg, “the best little boy in the world.”