Buttigieg Versus Pence: Another 'Feud' That Isn't

April 10, 2019

CNN had big news on Tuesday night about the nascent presidential candidacy of Mayor Pete Buttigieg: He and Vice President Mike Pence are in a full-on feud.

The word "feud" has strong implications, suggesting the two figures are engaged in a fierce tit-for-tat, trading insults and barbed language. (President Donald Trump has a lot of feuds.) What a disappointment it is that the two are not, in fact, in a feud at all, but rather one person seeking to boost his national profile is attacking the other person. It's really not that exciting.

Buttigieg is gay and blasted Pence, with whom he shared a cordial working relationship when Pence was governor of Indiana, at Sunday's LGBTQ Victory Fund National Champagne Brunch:

"If me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade," Buttigieg said. "And that's the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me -- your quarrel, sir, is with my creator."

The blistering response from Pence can be summed up here:

All we have is a tweet from his spokesman pointing out the last time Pence mentioned Buttigieg publicly was to gush over him as a "dedicated public servant" whom he held in the "highest personal guard" when Buttigieg came out in 2015.  The crux of Dan Merica's CNN "feud" article was Karen Pence saying the two had a "great relationship" and it was clear Buttigieg was trying to "get some notoriety" with his remarks.

After what I can only call a pouncing on Twitter—maybe it was a seizing—CNN changed the headline to "Karen Pence responds to Pete Buttigieg's criticism of her husband: 'They've always had a great relationship," which isn't as much fun as a feud.

It's Adam Rippon all over again, the gay figure skater who began taking potshots at Pence last year when the vice president led the country's Winter Olympic delegation to South Korea.

You might remember that tedious storyline where Rippon expressed outrage at Pence's role in the Olympics over the false notion that he supported the practice of gay conversion therapy, an impression based off one misinterpreted line from a 2000 campaign flier.

Then, when Rippon got a lot of attention for it, he got mad about getting a lot of attention for it.

Pence's eventual reply: I hope you have a good Olympics and go Team USA. Feud!

I don't agree with Pence's stance on same-sex marriage, but I think you can oppose the practice on religious grounds and not be a bigot. If people disagree, then they believe our 44th president was a terrible homophobe during his first term in office. That isn't very convenient though.

So we get numerous examples of progressives hoping against hope that Pence is SO MAD at Rippon and Buttigieg, or gets SO MAD at things like shaking hands with a gay couple visiting the White House or seeing people wave gay pride flags or John Oliver releasing a children's book making fun of his daughter's by having a gay bunny character.

Yet, somehow, Pence carries on living his life in spite of his obvious boiling rage.