From my admittedly outside vantage point, it seems like the lunacy of the attacks stems from a few places.

The first is simple human jealousy. In 2008, all of the candidates and most of their respective staffs and supporters had a seething hatred for Mitt Romney. Mitt seemed inauthentic, like he was buying his success and hadn’t earned his scars in the way that some of the more long-standing pols, men like McCain and Giuliani and Thompson, had. The jealousy reflected itself on the stage where he was often the recipient of the most pointed barbs. Buttigieg’s unlikely rise is having a similar effect.

The second reason was pinpointed by Jim Downs, author of Stand By Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation. Downs noted that Buttigieg fits a gay archetype that Andrew Tobias enshrined in his memoir, The Best Little Boy In the World.

In TBLBITW, Tobias writes about the trend of young closeted gay men—who are yes, mostly wealthy and white—overcompensating for their internalized homophobia and lack of comfort in the boys club by focusing on presenting external successes in areas where they can compete effectively: grades, behavior, resumés.