Like Macron, Buttigieg would be 39 on his first day in office. Both grew up middle class in small rust belt cities, before going on to become multilingual graduates of elite universities (two each). Both are white in increasingly diverse countries and married to teachers in happy but unconventional marriages, Buttigieg in a same-sex marriage, and Macron with a woman 25 years his senior. Both worked for high-end companies—Buttigieg for McKinsey and Macron for Rothschild—before turning to public service. Both are authors who, for better or worse, share the World Economic Forum’s—a.k.a. Davos—stamp of approval: a membership card into globalization’s stratosphere.
Each man pitches himself as a cross-over politician in a polarized environment: progressive with appeal to conservatives. Buttigieg as the wholesome veteran you’d like your daughter (or son) to bring home. Macron as the dragon-slayer of France’s corporatist tendencies.
Lis Smith, Buttigieg’s communications director, has described him as the “person most likely to melt otherwise smart people’s brains,” because he’s hard to categorize and his CV is difficult to replicate. Whatever their other talents, Buttigieg’s septuagenarian rivals can’t simply jump in a time machine and make themselves 37, nor become polyglot military veterans.