Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful, isn’t angry at Donald Trump, he’s disappointed.
At least that’s the tone Buttigieg struck Thursday at a live event with the Washington Post, where he contrasted his military service to Trump hosting a reality-TV show and then accused the president of “faking” a disability to get out of serving in the Vietnam War.
Buttigieg, who served in Afghanistan, raised the issue in the interview with the Post’s Robert Costa, saying, “I don’t have a problem standing up to somebody who was working on season seven of Celebrity Apprentice when I was packing my bags for Afghanistan.”
“Do you think he should have served in Vietnam?” Costa asked.
“I have a pretty dim view of his decision to use his privileged status to fake a disability in order to avoid serving in Vietnam,” Buttigieg said. He clarified that he thinks Trump faked the bone spurs that got him out of Vietnam — pretending “to be disabled so that somebody could go to war in his place.”
It’s not an assertion without merit. Last year, the New York Times reported that the daughter of the doctor who gave Trump his bone spurs diagnosis did so as a favor to Fred Trump, Donald’s father.
Trump has yet to react to Buttigieg, but it’s no doubt coming. The president has already tried to label him “Alfred E. Neuman,” but the 37-year-old had a comeback ready for that. “I had to Google that … I guess it’s a generational thing,” he said.
Buttigieg seems to have settled in on a style of talking about Trump that’s more dismissive than enraged, treating Trump as if he’s more pitiful and sad than anything else. As the Washington Post’s Paul Waldman noted on Twitter, it’s not unlike the tone House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has adopted when talking about Trump. Her new favorite line: “I pray for the president of the United States.”