Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg wasn't always the sharp and erudite politician the country knows today.
We all have to start somewhere.
Buttigieg was once a sharp and erudite student. An old clip of him asking a question as a college freshman circulated online recently, reminding citizens he was articulate and insightful even then.
During a 2001 forum on former Republican President George W. Bush’s first hundred days in office at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, a then 19-year-old Buttigieg addressed a panel that included former White House Communications Director David Gergen and New York Times political correspondent Richard Berke.
You can hear what Buttigieg said—and the panel's response—in the video below.
A young Peter Buttigieg asking questions at Harvardwww.youtube.com
Taking the mic, Buttigieg asked:
“Hi. My name is Peter Buttigieg and I’m a freshman here at the college."
"It’s my understanding from generations older than mine that most of the people in them who went into public service did so out of inspiration for a grand figure who was usually the American president."
“It seems like the presidency has now evolved into what’s called the MBA White House, or the corporate model.”
“What’s happened to the image of the American presidency? And just because we know more about the men who were president, is that magic really gone forever?”
Gergan praised the young Buttigieg's question, responding in part:
"The magic has certainly been diminished. The office has certainly been tarnished over the years."
"I don't think you can lay this just at George W. Bush's door. I don't think that's fair to him. There have been some of, several of his predecessors who have been hardly inspirations and have hardly appealed to the idealism of youth."
"I think it's a worthy challenge of this president [Bush] to see if he can stir you and others knowing that it may be hard for him on a Harvard campus, but there are other places in the country, you know, other universities where fine students go, you know, who might really get started."
"I do think this is one of the biggest questions facing your generation because you've got a very idealistic generation. Your generation in my judgment is much more spiritual than some of the people who are older."
"I think that you all by and large are much better educated but as far as I can tell, many people in your generation are rejecting politics and rejecting government as an instrument for change. You go into nonprofits, you do a lot of other things."
"Here at the Kennedy School, you know, only half of our graduates go into government, this county school of government."
"This is... you know, many others go over to McKenzie or other things like that and it's a question of pay, partly, but it's also a question of the nobility of the service and a sense of what one gets out of that and I think one of the challenges of the older generation now, recognizing that one half of the people in the civil service today are going to be eligible for retirement in five years... is to make an appeal to you that both reaches towards your idealism but also gives you a place where you can go and feel inspired by what you're doing."
The clip was unearthed by Twitter user @chyeaok.
They opined that the clip demonstrated Buttigieg has "literally always been this thoughtful and introspective."
Indeed, it seems Buttigieg was always destined for great things.
Buttigieg is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Oxford, attending the latter on a Rhodes Scholarship. From 2009 to 2017, he was an intelligence officer in the United States Navy Reserve, attaining the rank of lieutenant. He was mobilized and deployed to the War in Afghanistan for seven months in 2014.
Buttigieg was elected the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana in 2011 and it was there where his national profile grew, influencing his decision to run for President in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries. He became one of the first openly gay men to launch a major party presidential campaign.
When Buttigieg won the Iowa caucuses, he became the first openly gay candidate to win a presidential primary or caucus. After dropping out of the race, he endorsed Democrat Joe Biden, who would later appoint him Secretary of Transportation.
It seems a given that Buttigieg—one of the most popular Democrats in the country, according to YouGov's polling apparatus—will land in the executive office some day.
Many social media users shared that sentiment and expressed their admiration.
\u201cOh my goodness, he's so young in this clip! Adore me some Pete Buttigieg!\ud83d\ude0d\u201d— \ud83c\udf1eReapwhatuSow (@\ud83c\udf1eReapwhatuSow) 1664276381
The clip of the young Buttigieg was posted in the days after Buttigieg called out Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis amid anger toward a recent political stunt in which DeSantis shipped migrants who'd arrived in Texas seeking asylum off to Massachusetts without letting them know where they were going.
Responding to the scandal, Buttigieg said that the stunt is "the kind you see from people who don’t have a solution" and said DeSantis "is hurting people in order to get attention."
Many praised Buttigieg for speaking out against DeSantis, whose often inflammatory rhetoric about immigration and attacks against the Biden administration have made him a GOP favorite for the presidency in 2024.