Earlier this week, conservative commentators really thought they did something with the headline “Pete Buttigieg brought husband Chasten on military aircraft to attend sporting event in Netherlands”. This article pointed to an event from last April that saw the transportation secretary using government funds to carry out government business (the horror!).
Mouthpieces like GOP strategist Matt Whitlock and Senator Josh Hawley‘s press secretary Abigail Marone clocked in to clutch their pearls and scold Buttigieg for daring to travel with his husband:
Wild story – to summarize, while commercial air travel has been a disaster for you:
✈️Mayor Pete has taken 18 private jet flights
✈️He took Chasten on a military plane to attend a sporting event in Europe.. with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.
Tom Price resigned for much less. https://t.co/da0UbiV6zy
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) January 4, 2023
Your holiday flights were delayed or cancelled but Pete Buttigieg brought his husband on a military aircraft to attend sporting event in Netherlands https://t.co/TLHCMUta2f
— Abigail Marone 🇺🇸 (@abigailmarone) January 4, 2023
When Buttigieg took to Fox News once again Thursday night to go toe-to-toe with their brilliant political minds, he clearly came prepared.
Host Bret Baier delves right into the faux-controversy, asking, “You also brought your husband Chasten on a military aircraft to attend this sporting event in the Netherlands. Was that reimbursed?”
With that, class was in session.
“That’s quite a spin to put on it,” Buttigieg responds plainly. “Of course not; I led a presidential delegation to support American wounded warriors and injured service-members, the Invictus Games, as had been tradition for many years.”
“It was one of the great honors of my time in this job. And the diplomatic protocol, on a presidential delegation, is that the principal is often accompanied by their spouse.”
He points out that he also spent that time meeting wounded Ukrainian servicemembers competing in the games, some of whom “went from the games back to the battlefield to fight for their country” in the Russo-Ukrainian War. On top of that, he took the chance to meet with the prime minister of the Netherlands to discuss Dutch port infrastructure.
“Here’s what I want you to understand,” he continues. “Before me, it was the Secretary of the Army under President Trump who took that trip with his wife. Before that, it was Mrs. Trump as first lady who went to the Invictus Games. Before that, Mrs. Obama did the same thing.”
Getting to the heart of the matter, he says, “I guess the question on my mind is, if no one’s raising questions about why Secretary Esper and his wife led that delegations, then why is it any different when it’s me and my husband?”
A flustered Baier immediately says “Understood” and drops the entire line of questioning. Days of irritatingly uninformed and homophobic right-wing complaining crushed in under a minute and a half.
“Understood,” Baier responded before moving on to another topic.
— Acyn (@Acyn) January 6, 2023
Throughout it all, the Looney Tunes-level comedy of the House Speaker vote can be seen trying to pull focus from the lower right corner. Watching McCarthy’s eleventh Groundhog Day-style loss play out at the same time just adds an extra bit of unrelated schadenfreude to this immense Buttigieg own.