Former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg landed a spot in President-elect Joe Biden’s cabinet with the announcement Tuesday that the former midwestern mayor will be nominated to helm the Transportation Department.
The 38-year-old former presidential rival made history as a trailblazing candidate in the Democratic primary early this year, becoming the first major openly gay candidate to claim delegates in the major party contest. Now Buttigieg stands as a cabinet nominee before the incoming Senate next year, a triumphant rise for the mayor of a relatively minor midwestern city.
Buttigieg’s rise was propelled by the same media eager to boost him in the presidential primary, capitalizing on the candidate’s sexuality as outlets covered the crowded contest in a party consumed by identity politics.
Now the same people who fawned over Buttigieg’s historic candidacy are once again declaring another “first” accomplished by the former Indiana mayor, praising the nomination for secretary of transportation as another triumphant milestone as the first openly gay cabinet member. This time, however, such claims amount to whitewashing President Donald Trump’s promotion of his administration’s first ambassador to Germany, Ric Grenell, to serve as director of national intelligence from February to May this year — a cabinet-level position.
The claim that Buttigieg is to serve as the nation’s first openly gay cabinet official was even repeated by CNN’s Jake Tapper.
While Tapper notes Buttigieg would be the first “Senate-confirmed” member of the presidential cabinet, the motivation is clear: refraining from any mention of Grenell’s time leading the intelligence community.
So you’re trying to erase the first openly gay Cabinet Secretary, @RichardGrenell with a modifier.
— Courtney Shadegg (@CShadegg) December 15, 2020
The leftist media misrepresentation was predictable, beginning just after Biden had been declared president-elect. Buttigieg immediately was speculated to be in the running for a high post in the next administration.
This is actually hilarious pic.twitter.com/ml3c3GquRU
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) November 10, 2020
As Democrats and Buttigieg allies placed pressure on Biden to pick him for something, rumored to be the ambassadorship to China, it still appeared at times that Buttigieg wasn’t checking off enough identity politics boxes by “only” being gay.
“Finding a Cabinet position for him has been a challenge as the former VP focuses on nominating women and people of color to high-level posts,” Axios reported in a claimed scoop that Buttigieg was a top candidate to lead the embassy in Beijing.
At the end of the day, however, Buttigieg got his cabinet position, and the media got its poster child.