Mayor Pete Buttigieg kicks 2020 off with a direct shot across the bow of the Biden campaign aimed at Hunter Biden and the Ukraine.
Not everyone who achieves public office or a key leadership role actually wants the responsibilities that come with such things.
Take former House Speaker Paul Ryan, for instance. He never wanted to be Speaker. He took the job under duress and went down in flames. Contrast his ignominious downfall with the current House Speaker.
California Representative Nancy Pelosi isn’t just the first, second and only woman to ever hold the Speaker’s gavel- she really wanted the job in 2018. She wanted to helm the new Democratic Majority in the House; she wanted to be a guiding hand for passionate freshmen Democrats very much.
The difference in the two Speakers- one Republican, one Democrat- and their relative performances makes it abundantly clear:
Pelosi wanted to be Speaker and Paul Ryan did not.
Pelosi moved heaven and earth to get the necessary votes. She fought off challenges from the right, challenges from the left, challenges from younger party mandarins who insisted Pelsoi was too old. She fought off challenges from fellow party leaders who thought themselves better equipped for the job.
Paul Ryan phoned it in, failed to raise money for the Republican Party in 2018 and resigned.
Politicians: By their actions, you will know them.
Up until recently, it has been unclear who among the healthy number of contenders for the Democratic nomination just who wants it the most.
Without a doubt, every candidate is united in wanting to beat Donald Trump. But as to who actually wants to be President, that has been a much shorter list.
For surely some of the candidates, and earlier candidates who have left the race, never really intended to go all the way anyway. A higher profile in the Democratic Party might mean a Vice Presidency or top cabinet position for someone like Sen. Kamala Harris or Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
Sen. Bernie Sanders certainly wants to be President; fighting through the establishment on both sides of the aisle and the mainstream press’s complete lack of interest in the Sander’s Campaign was hard enough. Throw a heart attack in there and Sanders must want to win very badly to carry on through such adversity.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren seems to want to sit the Oval Office, but at times she also seems like an unserious candidate more interested in moving the Overton Window than in passing legislation.
Then there is former Vice President Joe Biden.
Does he really even want to be President?
Watching his campaign’s stumbles and bumbles- from calling his swing-state tour “No Malarky” to forgetting to secure the domain name for “Todos Con Biden” before announcing it as his Latino voter outreach campaign, a mistake for which the Trump campaign lost no time in embarrassing Biden- it is hard to tell.
Because there is also Hunter Biden to contend with. The Hunter Biden Ukraine scandal has hurt Joe Biden more than impeachment has hurt Donald Trump. And because of the connection to Trump, the Hunter Biden Ukraine story wasn’t going anywhere yesterday or today.
It isn’t going anywhere tomorrow, either.
That the former Vice President still has not been able to produce even the most rudimentarily cogent explanation of why his son sat the board of a crooked Ukrainian energy consortium to the tune of $50,000- $80,000 a month while he was Vice President and Obama admin point man in Ukraine.
In debate after debate, Biden’s fellow Democrats danced around this thorny issue. Sen. Cory Booker even went as far as to take CNN’s Anderson Cooper to task for even brining the subject up during one debate.
Donald Trump will not be so sensitive to Joe Biden’s feelings. Biden’s fellow contenders would have done better to question him about it, thereby forcing him and his team to come up with a better explanation.
It is an explanation Democrats are eager to accept. But Biden still hasn’t given them one.
Why? It is possible that there just isn’t any good reason at all for Hunter Biden’s dubious employment; it may be just as it appears to voters.
Hunter Biden had no business being on that board, was unqualified to hold such a position even if it hadn’t been a conflict of interest for his father- which it certainly was.
That such an arrangement is not illegal; that the children of legacy, career politicians like Joe Biden can secure lucrative posts like this is hardly something about which voters need reminding.
But just in case they do need reminding, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is ready and willing to do it.
With a likely eye on the moderate ground, Pete Buttigieg is pulling no more punches on Joe Biden.
Buttigieg is a man who may actually want to be President.
Criticizing Joe Biden on his son’s work in the Ukraine is a signal to Democrats that Pete Buttigieg is a fighter who is in this race to win.
Democrats, and most especially front-running Democrats like Joe Biden, have been warned.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)