Pete Buttigieg is in a great position. His critics on the left can only attack him by demonstrating that he’s reasonable. The latest attempt to discredit him for being sane comes from Nathan Robinson at the Guardian. If Mayor Pete plays his cards right, he’ll be using it in campaign ads before long.

Robinson starts out by claiming that Buttigieg doesn’t stand for anything. And by the end of the piece, Robinson neatly manages to debunk his own thesis by detailing Buttigieg’s principled positions.

“Has he taken courageous moral stands?” he asks. “No: while Gary, Indiana, declared itself a sanctuary city in response to Donald Trump’s immigration policies, [Mayor] Buttigieg’s city of South Bend did not.”

But in a Democratic Party that’s declared walls immoral, refusing the cheap virtue posturing of sanctuary-city status is a courageous moral stand.

Robinson, however, is just getting started. His list of complaints goes on: “After Israel massacred Palestinian protesters, Buttigieg appeared to pin the blame on Palestinians.” Good for him, another brave moral stand. The “protestors” Robinson refers to were mostly Hamas operatives who were charging the Israeli/Gaza border. And the rest were doing doing Hamas’s bidding. Buttigieg’s comments on Israel are sharp and worth looking at in greater detail. Around the time of Hamas’s doomed stunt, he spoke with the American Jewish Committee and said: “Seeing the way that a country can be on one hand very intentional, very serious and very effective when it comes to security and on the other hand not allow concerns about security to dominate your consciousness—I think there’s a very important lesson in that that hopefully Americans can look to as we think about how to navigate a world that unfortunately has become smaller and more dangerous for all of us.” So not only are Israelis striking the right balance between security concerns and the business of everyday life, but they’re setting a worthy example for the U.S.

Robinson then notes with regret that Buttigieg is insufficiently sympathetic to an American traitor: “He has professed himself ‘troubled’ by the clemency Barack Obama granted to Chelsea Manning.” Manning was an Army intelligence analyst who made classified military and intelligence documents available to Wikileaks. Obama commuted his 35-year prison sentence on his last day in office. Buttigieg, unlike Obama, fought in Afghanistan and, unlike Manning, managed to serve his country without aiding our enemies and endangering the lives of Americans. If he wasn’t troubled by Obama’s lenience toward someone who betrayed the United States, he’d be unfit for office.

And then there’s this: Buttigieg “has called for ‘democratic capitalism.’ Oh, the horror! The man wants to stick with the political and economic system that’s made the entire world more prosperous and peaceful than it’s ever been.

True-believing progressives are unable to see how unpopular their ideas really are. Pete Buttigieg has an edge over most of the 2020 Democratic field: He can spot the crazy. While his competition out-wokes one another in the overcrowded activist lane, Buttigieg’s star keeps rising. It could all fall apart for him, of course. He could give in to leftist pressure, dip his toe into the radical swamp, and lose his advantage. But his best bet is to sit back and let the mechanics of political jiu-jitsu keep working to his benefit.

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