Elizabeth Warren (who is, full disclosure, my current first choice for president) said hell no to appearing on Fox News. Pete Buttigieg (my second choice) took a different tack. He went on Fox News yesterday and criticized Fox News to Fox News's face. In doing so, he undoubtedly reached voters who would never hear from him otherwise: All those low-information voters who only watch Fox News. And what happened? He irritated the president and got a standing ovation.
I've been binging on Buttigieg (pronounce it "booty-judge") media appearances for months, but in this Fox News Town Hall I learned a few things: (1) His full name is Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg; (2) he is more convincing on the subject of beating Trump than some of the other candidates; and (3) he can successfully tie Trump's bullshit to Fox's bullshit and get a crowd of people at a Fox Town Hall to cheer him on. Aside from flak from Democrats who don't think you should talk to people who disagree with you, I don't see a downside here.
(Bernie Sanders pulled off a similar move on Fox News recently.)
You should watch the whole Buttigieg Fox News Town Hall, and I'm putting the four clips on YouTube that comprise the whole hour into this post. If you don't want to watch the whole thing, you should at least watch these highlights assembled by the Washington Post:
But again, to really understand how good this guy is—how Obama-like he is at thinking on his feet and speaking to millions of people—you should watch the whole thing.
Here's part one, in which he talks about his age, Biden being older than Trump, abortion (including abortions in the third trimester), the opioid crisis, and the national debt:
But it's part two of this Fox News Town Hall that is required viewing. If you only watch one of the segments in this whole blog post, watch the one below this paragraph. If you're in a big hurry, you can fast forward through the questions about whether America is ready for a gay president, impeachment of Trump, and Mayor Pete's lack of support among voters of color (although those are all important questions and you really should watch those too) and go straight to the 11:30 mark, where he lands solid blows against Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and President Trump. It's so good that I spent an hour this morning following along and transcribing it, just for you!
At the 11:30 mark, moderator Chris Wallace asks Mayor Pete about Trump making fun of Buttigieg's name, making fun of Buttigieg's looks, etc. Buttigieg replies:
BUTTIGIEG: The tweets are—I don't care. [Huge applause.]
WALLACE: But, and that gets a lot of applause here, the fact is it's a very effective way for him to reach tens of millions of Americans.
BUTTIGIEG: Well it's a very effective away to command the attention of the media.
BUTTIGIEG: I think that we need to make sure that we're changing the channel from this show that he's created. Because what matters—and I get it, look it's mesmerizing, and it's hard for anybody to look away. Me too. It is the nature of grotesque things that you can't look away. [Laughter and applause.] But every time we're looking at the show and the latest tweet and the latest silly insult, what we're not looking at is the fact that we're the ones trying to get you a raise and they're the ones blocking it. We're the ones trying to preserve your health care and they're the ones trying to take it away. We're the ones who are actually prepared to deliver on something like paid family leave and they're against it. Their positions, as a general rule, are unpopular. And if we focus on what's going to happen on your life—in other words, if we make it less about him, and more about you—paradoxically, I think that's actually the best way to defeat him. Now the other thing we've got to do is we've got to find people where they are. Now a lot of people in my party were critical of me for even doing this with Fox News.
WALLACE: I've heard that.
BUTTIGIEG: And I get where that's coming from. Especially when you see what's going on with some of the opinion hosts on this network. When you have Tucker Carlson saying that immigrants make America dirty? When you've got Laura Ingraham comparing detention centers with children in cages to summer camps? Summer... camps? There's a reason why anyone has to swallow twice before agreeing to participate in this media ecosystem. But I also believe that, even though some of those hosts are not always there in good faith, I think a lot of people tune into this network who do it in good faith. And there are a lot of Americans who my party can't blame if they are ignoring our message because they will never hear it if we don't go on and talk about it. And so it's why whether it's going into the viewership of Fox News or whether geographically it's going into places where Democrats haven't been seen much, I think we've got to find people where they are. Not change our values. But update our vocabulary so that we're truly connecting with Americans from coast to coast.
In part three, they discuss foreign policy. He talks about the recent "saber-rattling" with Iran, and adds that it was "by the way reportedly engineered by John Bolton, who was one of the people who built the war in Iraq. How somebody who was behind that, one of the worst foreign policy mistakes in American history, is allowed anywhere near the Situation Room of a president who claims, probably falsely, but claims he was against the Iraq War all along, is unbelievable to me." They also talk about college debt and getting rid of the electoral college:
In part four, Wallace asks about his biggest mistake as mayor, his thoughts about the legacy of slave-owner Thomas Jefferson, and Game of Thrones.
Whatever else you want to say, going on Fox News was not a mistake for Pete Buttigieg. I wish I were a fly on the wall in Tucker Carlson's or Laura Ingraham's office today.