The Buttigieg illusion

The elite media fell in love with Buttigieg, not just because he’s genuinely talented, but because he’s the type of candidate — young, earnest, credentialed, progressive but with a self-image as an ideologically moderate pragmatist — it always falls in love with.

It is attracted to the idea of an intellectual as a presidential candidate. This doesn’t literally mean someone with deep intellectual interests or genuine accomplishments — think the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan — but an impressive academic résumé, a copy of The New Yorker on the nightstand and true verbal acuity.

In this sense, Pete Buttigieg is the new Barack Obama, except with limits that will likely keep him from reaching the next level in the 2020 nomination contest and even if he did, would make him perhaps the weakest plausible prospective Democratic general-election candidate.