Blue State Blues: The Pete(r) Principle

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JOEL B. POLLAK – 13 Jan 2023 – for

My cmnt: The Peter Principle is that quite often people will be promoted to their level of incompetence. This simply means that management (or any entity with authority to promote someone up the ladder – even the voting public) have no real idea as to the competency of any given candidate for taking on additional responsibilities. Sometimes by sheer luck the promoted person turns out to be capable. Typically he or she does not.

My cmnt: So what we have in any organization (Congress, schools, universities, business, government, churches) is the tendency to promote those we like, agree with, are aligned with politically, owe a favor to, or are related to us as family or friends to higher and higher levels of authority and responsibility until it becomes obvious that the promoted individual quite simply cannot do his job. Ironically, at that point, the person will be promoted again just to get them out of the way. This is why upper management so often tends to be peopled by the dumbest and most incompetent while middle management (where the real work is done) has highly competent people who will never be promoted again because they are (again ironically) too valuable where they are.

My cmnt: Another aspect of the Peter Principle is that academic capability rarely translates into real-world competency and often vice versa. Such is the case with much of the democrat party. The ability to read and assimilate vast quantities of mostly academic information and regurgitate it back on a test or a written essay does not translate into the ability to solve real world problems. Such is the case with Pete(r) Principle Buttigieg.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg found himself at the center of another crisis this week, when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) declared the first ground halt of flights nationwide since Sep. 11, 2001.

His predecessors in the job — like Elaine Chao, Ray LaHood — were Republican establishment fixtures who were regarded as swamp creatures who understood that their job was primarily graft, whether legal or illegal.

They spread around federal largesse to the right people in the right places, doing the bare minimum to keep America’s crumbling infrastructure from collapsing, and trying to stay off the front pages of newspapers.

LaHood was a strange bird — a Republican in Barack Obama’s Cabinet, a fellow Illinois boy who played politics the Chicago way. He dutifully pushed high-speed rail, failed, and kept his ethical problems on the back burner.

Chao was probably the worst appointment of Donald Trump’s tenure. Her family has deep business ties to China; her husband is Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Dodgy — yet even she kept things running.

Buttigieg came up a different way. He went to Harvard; he worked for McKinsey; he served in the Navy in Afghanistan; he got himself elected, and reelected, as mayor of South Bend; he revealed, at 37, that he is gay.

On paper, he looked great. In 2020, Buttigieg emerged as a leading candidates for the Democrats’ presidential nomination. He raised cash in Silicon Valley; he delivered crisp talking points; he campaigned by the book.

He was everything the Bernie Sanders wing of the party despised — and when Sanders trounced him in Nevada, Buttigieg earned his way into Biden’s Cabinet by delivering a blistering takedown of the socialist Senator.

A week later, after Joe Biden won South Carolina — thanks to a late endorsement from Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) — Buttigieg stood behind the former vice president at a “rally” at a Dallas restaurant, and backed him.

Thus did Mayor Pete demonstrate his real skill: finding his way to the next promotion.

And once ensconced in the Cabinet, he began campaigning for the boss’s job, elbowing hapless Vice President Kamala Harris aside.

Buttigieg volunteered for the tough TV interviews, even appearing on Fox News regularly. He cultivated his persona as the country’s first openly gay, Senate-confirmed gay Cabinet official — married, with adopted kids.

He enjoyed the trappings of office — flying with his his husband on a military aircraft to a sporting event in Europe, or traveling on private jets, at taxpayer expense, racking up those carbon emissions he wants to end.

His big — and only — achievement was claiming the job of overseeing the spending of $1.2 trillion in Biden’s new infrastructure law.

Most of it had nothing to do with “roads and bridges” — which was fine: neither did he.

But then things started to go wrong.

A cargo crisis emerged over the summer of 2021, when Pete had quietly disappeared on unannounced paternity leave. A rail strike loomed while he was on vacation in Portugal. Air travel ran into major problems.

Not to worry, Pete told a late-night talk show host: he had it under control. Then a December snowstorm caused thousands of cancelations. And this week, the FAA’s computers crashed.

Pete was way out of his depth. He seemed confused by how all of these problems could be happening to him. But perhaps it was just the Peter — or Pete — Principle: he had been promoted to his level of incompetence.

You know that President Trump would have fired this guy. For all the “chaos” in the Trump White House, one of its redeeming features was that there was little tolerance for anyone who screwed up — ethically or otherwise.

Not that Trump would have replaced him with someone better. Some of his appointees were just as useless — or, as in Chao’s case, disloyal: she resigned after the January 6 riot, claiming a sudden concern for principle.

But at least Trump understood that people had to be held accountable for failure. That principle seems not to operate in Democratic administrations.

Whether Pete can parlay a Cabinet post into another presidential run remains to be seen. The FAA crisis might have dented Pete’s presidential chances — for now.

But a Senate seat just opened up in Michigan — where he happens to have moved recently.

A perfect way to keep moving up.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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