May 11, 2019

Trump taunted — "Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States" — and Buttigieg responded.



"I’ll be honest. I had to Google that. I guess it’s just a generational thing. I didn’t get the reference. It's kind of funny, I guess. But he’s also the president of the United States and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal." (Politico.)

This is a great and complex answer:

1. Buttigieg implicitly taunted Trump for being old, and Trump is pretty old, but maybe not as too old as Buttigieg is too young.

2. The intro "I'll be honest" can be used to lie, and I'm not sure if he was honest. Now, I'm really consciously thinking something about Buttigieg that had only bubbled below the surface: He's saying some things only for effect, not sincerely. Now, I'm looking back to try to see when have I felt this way before. Something about religion?

3. How removed from popular culture must you be not to know the Mad Magazine icon Alfred E. Neuman? Buttigieg seems to want to portray himself as in the know, because he's in the younger generation, but it comes across as unaware of pop culture generally. Mad Magazine has been around since 1952 and it's still going. It's an American institution, and the image of Alfred E. Neuman is continually used in political cartoons. I know Buttigieg is into high culture. Is he a snob who shuns pop culture? Or back to #2, is he just faking it about needing to Google?

4. It's a common foible only to know the things that happened within your own lifetime, but a President should have a grasp of earlier times. He needs to understand history, and he needs to understand the culture. Mad Magazine is part of the culture.

5. He went out of his way to read a novel that was only available in Norwegian. He learned Norwegian. That's looked great to me, but it takes on a different character paired with an avoidance of American things.

6. How will he understand Trump if he doesn't get American pop culture? Trump is a phenomenon of American pop culture. How will you fight what you don't quickly and instinctively grasp?

7. It makes perfect sense to say, essentially, the President should be working harder at his presidential duties, and I like how Buttigieg singled out one particular job that needs to get done. That's re-tracking us onto a serious issue.

8. I like that Buttigieg did not — like so many other Trump antagonists — say that Trump shouldn't tweet at all or that Trump should never be funny. Buttigieg says it was funny ("I guess") and displays nice acceptance of jokes at his expense. He doesn't look fazed or irritable at all. (Of course, neither does Alfred E. Neuman, whose tag line is "What? Me worry?")

9. Buttigieg leaves it to others to say more peevish things. He refrains from making the most obvious criticism, that it's wrong to mock a person's looks, especially aspects of looks that he cannot control. That's causing me to think about the widespread belief that Trump made fun of the appearance of a reporter who had a medical condition that deformed and immobilized his right arm and hand. I don't believe that's what Trump was doing, but many people do, and additional mocking of unchangeable conditions reinforces one of the most damaging beliefs about Trump.

10. Refraining from chiding Trump about talking about how somebody looks preserves space to make fun of how Trump looks, and that is a rich source of political dialogue. Why cut that off? Even if Buttigieg himself doesn't plan to use insults about looks, some of his supports surely will, and if he'd said, don't mock looks, he'd be called a hypocrite if he does not tell them to stop.

160 comments:

gspencer said...

11. China is the bad faith party; it reneged, at the last moment, on a deal whose terms were largely in place. And why? Because today we have a president, at last, standing up for America, unlike Clinton, Bush, Obama, who were happy enough to be rolled by Chinese promises of "we'll be better; just trust us."

Patrick said...

Mad Magazine isn't that much old a thing these days and hasn't been for quite a while. It may be a bit surprising that he didn't know who Alfred E Neuman was, but it's a dated reference for sure.

Quaestor said...

It may be a bit surprising that he didn't know who Alfred E Neuman was...

Is Alfred E. Neuman a who or a what?

Nobody said...

It’s a good retort. His stock went up, in my opinion.

Nobody said...

I just instinctively distrust anybody that good looking.

Mr. D said...

I would be stunned if Buttigieg had never encountered Alfred E. Neuman before. Buttigieg is a politician. He will say any damned thing to gain an advantage. Good post, Professor.

Lincolntf said...

The only thing that makes Buttigieg a potential Dem nominee is what he does in his bedroom. To think, I remember when Liberals insisted that what one does in their bedroom has nothing to do with one's character.

Quayle said...

Is every “deal” worth salvaging? Is it a failure to walk away or have the other side walk away?

Touting international deals per se is the politicians bamboozle. If the criteria of success is that you get a deal, then you can always be successful - 100% - because you can always give into the other side‘s terms. And that’s what’s got is where we are today: wonderful deals with bad terms, or terms that were unenforceable.

Quayle said...

And what use are Harvard and Oxford degrees when your party and likely voters only see Spy versus Spy?

Charlie Currie said...

Buttigieg will forever be Alfred E Neuman.
China will forever be duplicitous.
Donald Trump understands this...Buttigieg does not.

Nobody said...

I guess Buttigieg’s take on China is that they are a demanding bunch, and that’s just the way it is, and if we have to send more and more American jobs overseas to appease them, well “so be it.” We can’t have them roiling our markets short term!

michaele said...

I agree with your observation that Buttigieg's oh, so innocent "to be honest", was actually his tell for a little fib. It's just not believable that he isn't very familiar with the iconic Alfred E. Neuman and his famous "What, me worry?" tag line. And, actually, Trump has it wrong because the signature feature of Neuman is the sticky out ears. Buttigieg's ears are very tight but low and long.

Danno said...

What, me worry?

Danno said...

Actually, Mad Magazine's 'Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions' has been a big influence on my life.

Mark said...

I am nearly 50 and while aware of Alfred Newman, like Zippy the Pinhead he was starting to be no longer funny when I was young. I bet that there are some cringe worthy strips there if you revisit it.

Great retort. Many of my generation might have heard of Newman but it's like referencing JR from Dallas ... the sort of thing that old people do.

tommyesq said...

Smacking down China in response to their reneging on the trade deal IS how one would try to salvage the deal (and has already been done by Trump). If Pete thinks the office of President involves focusing solely and exclusively on a single task at a time until that task is accomplished, he is unfit for the job.

Charlie Currie said...

Chevron just walked away from it's deal to purchase Anadarko. Maybe Chevron should stop making cute commercials with talking cartoon cars and concentrate on salvaging the deal. Waiting for Alfred E Buttigieg to stop doing the one thing he's doing and concentrate on letting us know what Chevron should do.

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

It doesn't surprise me that somebody of Buttigieg's age wouldn't be familiar Alfred E. Neuman. I think you're really Boomin' in this post, prof.

Btw, re "he'd be called a hypocrite if he does not tell them to stop". No, he won't. Or rather, he won't be called a hypocrite by anybody who, or in any way, that matters. Calling Dems or progs "hypocrites" has no effect whatever on their votes. "Teh hypocracy!" only works on whipped conservatives.

Nobody said...

Now he knows how I feel about Game of Thrones references.

Nobody said...

If Pete thinks the office of President involves focusing solely and exclusively on a single task at a time until that task is accomplished

That’s a good way to learn languages.

eddie willers said...

Actually, Mad Magazine's 'Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions' has been a big influence on my life.

"Did you get a haircut?"
"No. I got them ALL cut."

etbass said...

There is one and only one reason Buttigieg is even running for President. And It is the reason he will lose.

Darrell said...

Buttigieg area of expertise is the erotic nature of of the male asshole.

I don't expect him to know anything else.

narciso said...

Do they have to pretend to be this ignorant:

https://mobile.twitter.com/adamscrabble/status/1126902416492855297?s=21

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

It makes perfect sense to say, essentially, the President should be working harder at his presidential duties, and I like how Buttigieg singled out one particular job that needs to get done. That's re-tracking us onto a serious issue. [Re "But he’s also the president of the United States and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal."]

This is the conventional tack taken by all Dems on Trumpian trade policy. "Salvage" is good rhetorically, implying incompetence and failure, which is how Dems and CoC conservatives should (and do) seek to frame everything he does. But again, like the also conventional "he's tweeting while Rome burns" complaint, it's preaching-to-the-choir rhetoric, not persuasive rhetoric, which in no way separates Pete from the pack.

Angle-Dyne, Samurai Buzzard said...

Nobody: Now he knows how I feel about Game of Thrones references.

And that Henry Porter guy, or whatever his name is.

Amexpat said...

Mad Magazine was important to me growing up and certainly everyone I knew, knew who Alfred E. Nueman was (I'm 62). But by the 1980's Mad was passe and I wouldn't expect kids growing up then or later to get the reference.

cacimbo said...

Now that Trump pointed it out, Buttigieg looks so much like neuman that it is hard to believe he has never heard the comparison made before.

Bob Boyd said...

"Alfred E. Neuman cannot become President of the United States."

That's exactly what so many said about Trump.

Amexpat said...

He needs to understand history, and he needs to understand the culture. Mad Magazine is part of the culture.

I agree. Growing up I was familiar with important US films, music and books that predated me. But I don't think it should be expected to read important magazines from a previous era. I was aware that there something called the Saturday Evening Post, but I never read an issue and had little knowledge of the contents except that Norman Rockwell illustrated covers. I expect that Pete was aware of Mad Magazine, but not any of the content.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Taunting is illegal. Trump should be impeached and indicted and then thrown into the oven.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

For the collective left- discussions with China = how can you pad my wallet.

AJ Lynch said...

I swear Trump and Rush can read my mind. They say things that I've already thought or said.

Gunner said...

I think Booty Boy just can't remember a time when pop culture like Mad frequently skewered Democrats and liberals.

gilbar said...

Lincolntf said...
The only thing that makes Buttigieg a potential Dem nominee is what he does in his bedroom.


Let's play whatIf!
Whatif?
There was a STRAIGHT 37 year old mayor, of a small town Indiana,
a town that lags behind the rest of Indiana economically;
who was a former naval intelligence officer, in the Naval Reserve (One tour in Afghanistan);
whose father "was a founding member of the International Gramsci Society and served as its president",
{Gramsci being, not a Socialist; but a Marxist!}
Oh! and was Married, and said that he was MORE RELIGIOUS than MOST PEOPLE
Oh! Oh! and!! Has a BIZARRE name that sounds Weird

Is there Anyone here, that thinks we'd have EVER hear of this guy?
Please let me know?

David Begley said...

Mayor Pete wouldn’t stand a chance in trade talks with the Chinese. He’s never had to make executive decisions of that scale.

Fernandistein said...

Stem cell : Alfred E. Neuman :: Motorcycle : Stem cell

John Lynch said...

I wish Buttigieg had said "I'm not worried about it."

Fernandistein said...

And that Henry Porter guy, or whatever his name is.

Excuse me, that would be Harriet Pottery and Half-Dead Prince.

M Jordan said...

That bit about Buttigieg learning Norweigen just so he could read a novel ... how can anyone believe that? I guarantee you he had other reasons to learn the language if in fact he did. He’s mythbuilding just like the onerous Obama has done his whole life.

Bruce Hayden said...

“I guess. But he’s also the president of the United States and I’m surprised he’s not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal."

I think that Quale answered this, and is evidence that Mayor Buttplug is over his head here. Negotiating 101: don’t look like you really want the deal that much; play hard to get; and be ready to walk away from the deal. Of course, diplomats spend their lives going through the motions. For them, it is the process that is important, which means that they often lose track of the question of whether getting to a deal is a good thing or a bad thing.

I will admit to falling into another trap, and that is investing too much thought and emotion into completing the deal. I remember buying my first car, a 1982 RX7. It was listed at $14k. I brought $12k to the table. My problem was that I envisioned myself behind the wheel, etc. so, when I confronted the salesman with the $12k, he asked to see my credit cards, and I ended up paying for the rest of the car that way. I should have walked away, but didn’t really learn that until we walked out twice during negotiating for my second new car five years later. On my own, I still have a problem walking away from deals. I get too emotionally invested.

So, I see this criticism by a small town mayor who probably hasn’t personally negotiated much more than the purchase of a house or car in his lifetime, instructing the putative author of “ The Art of the Deal”, in how to negotiate, somewhat ludicrous. The good mayor reminds me of myself having envisioned myself in the new car, and then hadn’t walked out of the car dealership when the salesman hadn’t budged.

Jeff said...

I've been meaning to get an Alfred E. Neuman T-shirt. Thanks for the reminder.

Fernandistein said...

Proto-Alfreds were used in advertising starting around 1900--->

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Trump understands China and trade. Nobody on the left does, except the Bill Clinton kind of "what's in it for me" way.

James Sarver said...

"It makes perfect sense to say, essentially, the President should be working harder at his presidential duties..."

Sure, Trump should completely ignore politics and focus exclusively on his chief exec/ head-of-state duties. Just like all those Democrats who did exactly that previously. Never mind re-elections and such. Oh, wait...

Utter nonsense.

James Sarver said...

It makes perfect sense to say, essentially, Mayor Pete should be working harder at his mayoral duties. Sauce for the goose...

J. Farmer said...

Buttigieg is three months older than I am, and I was awre of the Neuman icon even before understanding it was associated with a magazine. A couple months back, Vulture published a list of Buttigieg's supposed 10 favorite books. While I'm always skeptical of "reading lists" put out by politicians, Buttigieg's struck me as particularly bogus and unbelievably pretentious. James Joyce's Ulysses? The Odyssey Mantel's Wolf Hall?! Unbelievable.

Laslo Spatula said...

"He went out of his way to read a novel that was only available in Norwegian. He learned Norwegian. That's looked great to me, but it takes on a different character paired with an avoidance of American things."

I'm not entirely sold on his 'speaks multiple languages' thing.

I wouldn't be surprised that he is somewhat conversant in them, but it seems to be inferred that he is fluent, which is another level entirely.

Kinda like resumes where the prospective hire lists programs that they can work in, and you find that they are capable of opening the program and performing basic copy-and-paste functions, but are not able to solve a problem in them.

I could very well be wrong, but the anecdotal evidence so far reminds me of my French and German back in the day: I could carry a basic conversation, but the moment things got abstract my 'language math' came up short.

Like I said: I could be wrong. I'm just suspicious when it becomes a 'fact' about him without many support details (or details from other than his supporters).

I am Laslo.

Nobody said...

That bit about Buttigieg learning Norweigen just so he could read a novel ... how can anyone believe that?

Buwaya has got me thinking, and I am thinking of learning Spanish just to read Cervantes. For some people learning languages is a hobby. There are subreddits dedicated to people who like to learn multiple languages.

Nobody said...

I wouldn't be surprised that he is somewhat conversant in them, but it seems to be inferred that he is fluent, which is another level entirely.

Yeah, I am somewhat able to get by in French, though I can read a French newspaper with little difficulty, but one thing you see in Europe is that while everybody seems to speak English, unless you get off the beaten path, very few of them speak it really well, but still they get by using it. Which was a lesson to me to not be so paranoid about the level of my French.

narciso said...

I probably understand parts of a French novel, Portuguese is not as easy. They have some jan gallou novels but u would have to learn swedish.

Nobody said...

Though a Dutch cab driver told me that he had mostly lost his French because all of the French businessmen now speak English. He is learning Polish instead.

Nobody said...

He said the Russians all understand Polish.

tcrosse said...

As an ignorant youth I had a talent for learning languages. I thought I might figure out a way to use this to make a living, until it was pointed out to me that years of study could make me as proficient in multiple languages as the bellboy in a Swiss hotel.

Unknown said...

Homosexuality is a red flag for an abnormal brain. The big questions remain, how many other circuits are crossed upstairs?

Laslo Spatula said...

I am now thinking of my poor French teacher -- she was my instructor for years one and three.

I could read and write at a pretty strong level, but I could never get my ear to 'hear' it: It always sounded like the adults in a Charlie Brown TV cartoon, if the adult also had a mouthful of mashed potatoes.

And my French speaking: I could formulate the sentences and syntax, but evidently my voicing was awful: there were times that I would be the only one raising my hand to answer a question, and when she realized she had no choice but to call on me, she would sigh, then 'pre-wince', like she was watching someone just about to scrape their fingernails on a chalkboard.

Sadly, my French has deteriorated to the point where I can understand the French in Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" and not much else.

I am Laslo.

Justin said...

I’m Buttigieg’s age. Mad Magazine is not part of my generation’s culture. I know the famous image, but I also would’ve had to Google Alfred Neuman. Trump will need to go back to the drawing board on this one, because unlike some of his other nicknames, this one isn’t very clever or funny.

Michael K said...


Blogger Lincolntf said...
The only thing that makes Buttigieg a potential Dem nominee is what he does in his bedroom


Yes, Buttplug is the anti-Biden. Hollywood (have you seen that Director who said all Trump voters are assholes?) hates the idea of old, straight white guy Biden being the nominee. They know Kamala too well to want her.

They don't care if he knows anything. Hollywood is about image, not knowledge.

Nobody said...

until it was pointed out to me that years of study could make me as proficient in multiple languages as the bellboy in a Swiss hotel.

That is so true. But one thing you would have is that if you are American born, you can work for the CIA, which would never trust a Swiss bellboy.

n.n said...

Google, Kleenex, Xerox, etc. are progressive relics. That said, let the Chinese stew in their bad faith negotiations. Let the people who profit from labor and environmental (e.g. "Green") empathize with the people and climate.

Big Mike said...

Plus one on what Quayle wrote. That was one reason why most Americans, then as now, distrusted the deal Obama “achieved” with Iran. He came across to those not caught up in the mystique of the Great Lightbringer as being so desperate to have something — anything! — he could call a “deal” that there was no likelihood — zero — that it was a good deal for the US.

Nice of the mayor to warn us that he’s cut from the same bolt of cloth.

Francisco D said...

While I'm always skeptical of "reading lists" put out by politicians, Buttigieg's struck me as particularly bogus and unbelievably pretentious.

I suspect he learned French to read .

I read it in French class as a HS freshman. We had to read Candide as juniors. It was a lot tougher.

His list is like most lists of favorite movies or books. They are what the intellectual class believes we should be taking in.

Francisco D said...

to read Le Petit Prince

mockturtle said...

Unfamiliarity with popular culture should not be an obstacle to political success. But he does look a lot like AEN, doesn't he? MAD was my favorite mag as a child but I doubt either of my kids and probably none of my grandkids is familiar with it.

Phil 314 said...

Maybe Trump should have said “Sheldon Cooper can’t become President”

TJM said...

Mayor BUtt-plug is what I call a "credentialed idiot." For all of his education he cannot connect the dots. He espouses all sorts of left-wing loon ideas like a wealth tax, which in the countries where it has been tried, has been a disaster, resulting in the departure of those who can afford to leave. Pete is also a hater, condemning VP Pence, who never criticized him, as being un-Christian. Pretty rich for a guy whose party now believes in infanticide and anal sex (aka gay marriage).

Big Mike said...

The intro "I'll be honest" can be used to lie, and I'm not sure if he was honest.

The intro "I'll be honest" is normally used by a politician to lie, and I'm pretty sure he was not being honest.

Clarified it for you, Althouse!

TJM said...

FYI, Melania Trump speaks 5 languages but you don't see the Media giving her a tongue bath for that.

EDH said...

Buttigieg is making Trump's earlier point, isn't he?

"Salvaging" an international agreement implies literally salvaging the formality of a "deal" at any cost or detriment.

Trump is right about Buttigieg "representing us against President Xi of China".

Fernandistein said...

if the adult also had a mouthful of mashed potatoes.

That's a far more polite version of my description of what French speakers have in their mouths.

J. Farmer said...

@Francisco D:

His list is like most lists of favorite movies or books. They are what the intellectual class believes we should be taking in.

Any list of favorite books that doesn't include at least something by Elmore Leonard or Carl Hiaasen is suspect, in my opinion.

glam1931 said...

Justin said...
I’m Buttigieg’s age. Mad Magazine is not part of my generation’s culture. I know the famous image, but I also would’ve had to Google Alfred Neuman. Trump will need to go back to the drawing board on this one, because unlike some of his other nicknames, this one isn’t very clever or funny.

That's very true, but have you considered that maybe Trump doesn't care that not everyone gets the joke? Certainly everybody over 40 does. That's a lot of voters.

And it's not Alfred Neuman, it's Alfred E. Neuman.

roesch/voltaire said...

Wolf Hall is hardly bogus or pretentious and his reading list shows intellectual curiosity, but then his response also shows that one person in this pair is actually smart enough not to lower himself to name calling and the other only tweeter smart hiding his phone afraid to show his grades and taxes because he knows what the rest of us are beginning to suspect.

gilbar said...

TJM said... FYI, Melania Trump speaks 5 languages but you don't see the Media giving her a tongue bath for that.

Remember Teresa Heinz Kerry? The Media came all over her, for being "fluent in FIVE languages!"
Of course; one was English, another was Portuguese (her birth tongue, she was from Mozambique )
The other three were: Spanish, French, Italian ...
So, Basically, she knew how to talk to her mom (Portuguese), and her husband (English)

That'd be like my ex girlfriend 'bragging' that she was 'fluent' in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, and German

Seeing Red said...

I read an Article recently about the soon to be retired French ambassador to the US. He talked about Trump, obviously. One of the things he was surprised it was Trump pulling out of the Paris Accords because the French ambassador said the Paris Accords didn’t make the US do anything. That statement made me very upset because I wondered how much TAXPAYER money did they spend for nothing? But it really wasn’t nothing; it may not have required us to do anything but it did allow the rest of the world to beat us over the head with you’re signatory to the Paris Accords.

urpower said...


"Who’s Pete Buttigieg? Must be a generational thing."

https://twitter.com/MADmagazine/status/1127076926676393984

Inga...Allie Oop said...

Beavis and Butthead, Don Jr. And Eric. Now that’s funny.

Seeing Red said...

It’s a good thing translation programs are available so you don’t have to learn a foreign language to read a book.

Sam L. said...

Aim pistol at foot and fire away!!

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

I was aware that there something called the Saturday Evening Post, but I never read an issue and had little knowledge of the contents except that Norman Rockwell illustrated covers.

For me this illustrates Althouse’s point well. I’m 56 and like Amexpat also had the same level of experience with the SEP. we knew those covers were Norman Rockwell just like Bootygig knows the covers for MAD often featured Alfred E. Newman. “What? Me worry?” is American culture and in context of Polymath Pete one gets the sense he’s shunned our shared culture in pursuit of his other esoteric, and literally un-American, pursuits.

mtrobertslaw said...

I'm waiting for a reporter at one of Mayor Pete's press conferences to ask him a serious and complex question in flawless Norwegian. Then let's see how Mayor Pete reacts. Mayor Pete, being a clever fellow, will probably ask the reporter, out of respect to English speakers, to translate his question into English. Now if the reporter is as clever as Pete, he will respond "Pete, why don't you translate my question into English yourself?"

Craig Howard said...

Many of my generation might have heard of Newman but it's like referencing JR from Dallas ... the sort of thing that old people do.

Perhaps, said old person is aiming his message at other old persons.

mockturtle said...

It is so often asserted that what this country really needs is a President who speaks Norwegian.

William said...

Some people are sincerely pretentious. There are entire classes of people like that.....We've just passed the Centenary of WWI. There were battles in that war that cost 250,000 lives that resulted in the net gain or loss of a few metres of land. The people who managed that war were well bred and well educated. They were good at languages and spoke French well. It would perhaps have been better if the War was managed by a shady real estate promoter who recognized a bad deal when he saw one.....I definitely give Trump the edge over Butti when it comes to trade deals. If I needed to hire someone to take my kid's SATs, he would be my go to guy.

mockturtle said...

Good point, William. It brings to mind Andrew Jackson vs. John Quincy Adams, doesn't it?

Narr said...

Mad Magazine was absolutely fundamental in my circles, and as someone else mentioned was probably the dominant influence on the comedy of the Boomers. IIRC the magazine itself was largely the product of the WWII-Cold War generation, but it set the tone and sensibility for what the (we) Boomers would produce.

It made itself irrelevant by about 1970, in my estimation, and it doesn't surprise me that a nerdwonk like Mayor Pete didn't get the joke.

Narr
"Signed to play for Memphis Normal"

tcrosse said...

Say, what ever became of that nice young O'Rourke fellow?

Francisco D said...

Any list of favorite books that doesn't include at least something by Elmore Leonard or Carl Hiaasen is suspect, in my opinion.

Good point. In that vein, I would add Raymond Chandler and Josephine Tey.

Wilbur said...

I grew up with Mad Magazine and thought it hilarious. Eventually I moved onto National Lampoon. I'm not in the least surprised that someone Pete's age would be unfamiliar with Mad, nor consider it a deficiency in his needed fund of knowledge.

And, to be honest, I never got the Alfred E, Neuman thing, or the slogan. Assuming it was supposed to be clever or funny, I never understood why it was so.

I've known people, including attorneys, who would seemingly begin every declarative sentence with "To be honest with you...". After a couple of inflictions of this verbal tic, I would interrupt with "No, be dishonest with me".

J. Farmer said...

@roesch/voltaire:

his reading list shows intellectual curiosity

Yes. Almost as if that's what it was designed to do. It reads more like a list of what he thinks his ten favorite books should be. Of course, maybe they really are his favorites. But color me skeptical.

Humperdink said...

Playboy had the center fold. Mad magazine had the back page fold-in. The best part of the magazine, in my opinion. "What, Me Worry?"

rcocean said...

I thought it was a clever response. People under 50 do NOT know - or care - about Mad Magazine. Its a boomer thing. However, with the internet, they're all going to "Google" Alfred P. Newman and see it, and go "Yeah, Trump is right".

But I'm beginning to dislike Butt-edge-edge intensely. I hate people who preface their remarks with "The truth is" and then Lie. Or "I don't want to judge" and then Judge. "or to be frank" and then aren't "frank" at all. Gingrich used to drive me crazy with the way he'd say "The fact of the matter is" and then give his OPINION.

I like Trump better - 9/10 he just says it -straight out.

rcocean said...

The only weak part of his attack on Trump was the "He should be spending his time on trade deals". Everyone knows a President has enough time to attack his opponents, tweet, AND do his official business.

Obama didn't tweet, he just spent large amounts of time playing Golf and BB. Bush II didn't tweet he just read a lot of books and went mountain biking. Clinton spent lots of time/energy getting Lewisnskis.

Amexpat said...

"we knew those covers were Norman Rockwell just like Bootygig knows the covers for MAD often featured Alfred E. Newman. “

I'd expect that someone of his age and erudition would be familiar with the image of Alfred E. Neuman, but not the name. Except for a period around the 60's, when there were Alfred E. Neuman for President bumper stickers, you'd have to open the magazine and look at the fine print to see the name.

rcocean said...

Being cultured and reading a lot of literature has ZERO to do with being a good President. TR was cultured and a good POTUS. Wilson was a Princeton President and History professor and a bad POTUS. Hoover was incredibly well read. FDR read detective novels. Who was a better POTUS?

Ike read Westerns. Nixon was more cultured than JFK - but you'd never know it from reading the MSM. Clinton read Walt Whitman, Trump doesn't. I'd rather have Trump.


BudBrown said...

Clinton jogged to McDs?

rcocean said...

People are talking about magazine covers. NO ONE Looks at magazines in the grocery store. They haven't done it for 20 years.

Seeing Red said...

his reading list shows intellectual curiosity

He should show more curiosity about his fellow Americans instead of the NextGen Professor Scold. He’s their Gore.

What is it with that side of the aisle and their interest in pontificating professor types?

rcocean said...

As for Mad Magazine, I read it when I was 12 and thought it snarky and fun. Later, I read some back issues and saw it was just more Left/liberal subversion packaged as clever snark. They missed all the big Liberal targets and went after everything conservative.

Its like that French magazine "Charlies whatever" that got shot up. They went after Muslims because they were anti-religion. Otherwise, it was the same old Left/Liberal crap.

rcocean said...

"It is so often asserted that what this country really needs is a President who speaks Norwegian.'

I'd settle for one who spoke good English. We'd have to go all the way back to Reagan.

Fernandistein said...

That'd be like my ex girlfriend 'bragging' that she was 'fluent' in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, and German

I know judo and karate and several other Oriental words, but I wouldn't vote for anyone who doesn't know where this derives from:

"How Norwegian was it, Johnny?"

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

black out one of his front teeth, and he's a ringer for AEN.

SABO get busy!!

Seeing Red said...

out to me that years of study could make me as proficient in multiple languages as the bellboy in a Swiss hotel.

I once read an interview in an old Disney mag. They interviewed the lifeguards at I think it was a Typhoon Lagoon, the 1 with the long water slide.

They learned many “colorful” words in many languages because people kept losing their suits. Lolol

Seeing Red said...

I’m well read. You should try getting out more and put your theories to the test.

Book smarts. Street smarts.

Curious George said...

MAD Magazine

Verified account

@MADmagazine
11h11 hours ago

Who’s Pete Buttigieg? Must be a generational thing.

Ha!

wwww said...

How removed from popular culture must you be not to know the Mad Magazine icon Alfred E. Neuman?

I had to google it. I had a vague idea, but wasn't sure. I've heard of the magazine, but I've never seen it that I can recall.

Seeing Red said...

Good English is gone. Txtg rulz.

Oh Yea said...

He may be an exception, but my son went through a MADTV phase a few years ago watch all the old episodes on cable. Turns out it was on for 14 seasons spread out from 1995-2009 including a revival in 2016. Also my sister got all him and another nephew a MAD Magazine subscription for Christmas 2 years ago. So there are some of the younger generation who still follow it.

Michael K said...

Obama didn't tweet, he just spent large amounts of time playing Golf and BB.

Notice how no one ever wondered if Obama cheated ? We knew how bad he was at basketball.

mockturtle said...

Trump doesn't lecture.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

DJT to Peto: U MAD BRO?

Matt said...

F Mayor Buttiplug. Listen to E. Michael Jones' account of Candidate Buttiplug's anniuncement rally. Whatever you think of Jones, he was at the announcement.

Buttiplug is a media and elite creation, a prototypical useless lefty who would be a 'just another white guy' if he didn't have a 'husband'.

alanc709 said...

roesch/voltaire said...
Wolf Hall is hardly bogus or pretentious and his reading list shows intellectual curiosity, but then his response also shows that one person in this pair is actually smart enough not to lower himself to name calling and the other only tweeter smart hiding his phone afraid to show his grades and taxes because he knows what the rest of us are beginning to suspect.

Yeah, but why bring up Obama?

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

re: foreign languages and politics--
Wanna learn Russian?
Stacy Abrams says just continue to suppress minority voting,
and you'll be speaking Ruskie !!

Bob said...

michaele said, "...the signature feature of Neuman is the sticky out ears..."

Mmmm, not exactly. The entire facial image is signature: the big floppy ears, the dumb grin, the missing front tooth, the auburn hair, sloppy haircut, the asymmetric eyes, the broad face and rosy cheeks, the freckles. The image is more than the sum of its parts, and while someone, somewhere probably looks like Alfred E. Neuman, it's more likely some people just remind us of him.

In the video, after the reporter asked the question, Buttigieg grinned, and immediately I knew Trump had nailed it.

Trump may have gotten the idea from this cartoon dated April 22.

dreams said...

Year, I'd say Buttigieg isn't very clever but it doesn't matter because not many people will vote for him, just another democrat loser liberal.

Yancey Ward said...

It was actually a pretty good response, but he definitely missed the real riposte of "What, me worry?" That would have been brilliant.

Narayanan said...

Connecting to later thread ...
Coolness ?= Alfred E Newman

So coolness comes naturally to Mayor Pete!

John henry said...

I've lived in Puerto Rico since 1971, I am fluent in oral and written Spanish. Probably speak Spanish as much, on a daily basis as English. I even get paid for teaching, speaking and writing in Spanish.

I am a big believer in learning multiple languages. I once tried to learn Chinese via audio tapes as I drove around but got frustrated at it and gave up without knowing much at all.

Even with all that, I would never try to read something in Spanish if a decent English translation is available. There are 2 reasons:

1) I am a fast reader. In English I read a page at a time. I cannot do that in Spanish. I have to look at individual words or lines. It takes me 3-4 times longer to read a page in Spanish as in English.

2) My Spanish is Puerto Rican Spanish. This is different from Mexican, Cuban, Argentine, Spanish and other flavors of Spanish. It is even different from the Nyorican Spanish of someone like AOC. While they are mutually intelligible, I would need to puzzle over nuances and differences. I will never be able to understand Spanish written by a Spaniard (someone mentioned Cervantes) as I would be able to understand an English translation by someone who really knows both languages, does research to get exactly the right words and phrases in the translation and so on.

Want to learn a language as an intellectual challenge? Go for it. I think that is a great idea. Reading a book as a tool for learning the language could be a great hook.

But learning a language just so you can read a book? I call bullshit. You will never get as much out of the book translating it, on the fly, in your head, as you will from a good English language translation. For those whose primary language is English.

John Henry

Ralph L said...

5. He went out of his way to read a novel that was only available in Norwegian. He learned Norwegian.

And Barry Obama wrote 2 books.

Ralph L said...

About himself, of course.

John henry said...

When we got married, in 74, my wife did not speak much English and I was just learning Spanish. We agreed that we would speak English and Spanish on alternate days. That helped both of us a lot.

Then the kids came along and we agreed that we would speak only English in the house and still do, pretty much. My kids are both fully fluent in English. My son has published, in English in medical journals. My daughter worked in Illinois for 4 years after college. They have next to no accent. My daughter spent a year on assignment in France and seems fairly fluent in French.

I pretty much only speak English to my grandkids. My sons, 10 and 15 speak, read and write fluent English.

My daughter's kids, 1 and 3, don't speak much of anything at all yet but understand pretty well what I say. the 3 year old can count to 4, identify colors and body parts and other stuff in English.

Other than that and TV, they mostly hear Spanish all the time.

Ditto the sons kids.

John Henry

John henry said...

A story about the subtleties of Spanish:

Back in 77 or so, when I had a job, I went into town to cash my check and have lunch at a "Come y Vete" ((Literally eat and go) place next to the bank. This was a luncheonette style, long and narrow, with a 20' long counter.

So I sit down at one end of the counter. The woman serving was at the other end and it was busy. So she yells down at me "Que quieres" (What do you want?)

What I wanted was a hot Cubano sandwich which is sort of a sub. They can be hot or cold.

What I yelled out, so everyone could hear was:

"Dame una Cubana caliente"

The "a" at the end of cuban- changed it from a hot sandwich to a hot Cuban woman.

the place went silent for about 5 seconds. Then they saw it was a stupid gringo and all burst out laughing.

Someone from work was there and I was still hearing about it years afterward.

Even today, after more than 40 years of speaking Spanish during much of my normal day, I still struggle with syntax, gender and slang, especially.

Also, slang that is normal in Puerto Rico can be highly offensive in Mexico and other countries. And vice versa.

John Henry

michaele said...

Bob, you're actually quite right about all those other elements being just as important. For some reason, it was the ears that stuck in my memory but when I googled Alfred E. Neuman and saw the images, it was like, "Duh, yes, the missing tooth, the face shape, the goofy grin, the eyes." And Neuman's ears are set low just like Buttigieg's. I wonder how much increased google traffic there is today for the search on Alfred E. Neuman .

Ralph L said...

when she realized she had no choice but to call on me, she would sigh, then 'pre-wince', like she was watching someone just about to scrape their fingernails on a chalkboard.

"Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to speak French." ― P.G. Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins

John henry said...

Blogger rcocean said...

Hoover was incredibly well read.

Hoover was not only incredibly well read, he was an incredible and prolific writer as well on a variety of subjects from fly fishing, to history to mining economics. His 1912 book on financial evaluation of mining properties is still used as a textbook today. I read it, and had I still been teaching at the time, I would have added it to my reading list. It is still fresh today. His memoirs, in 3 volumes, are a great read.

He and his wife did the definitive translation of a 1600's German book on mining.

He was incredibly successful as a mining engineer. So successful that in 1914, he quit working to engage in food relief in Europe as a private citizen. At great personal risk and financial cost. Then as head of the US effort once we got into the war.

He is credited with saving 20-30 million Europeans from death by starvation during and after WWII. Vernon Kellogg's 1920 bio of Hoover has a lot of detail on this. Kellogg was Hoover's right hand man in the relief effort.

He was Minister of Natural resources for the Chinese government for a few years in the early 1900s. He and his wife used to speak Chinese even in the White House when they wanted a private conversation.

He developed a gold refining process still used today.

He made enough money in 20 years as a mining engineer that he never worked again after August 1914. Didn't take salary as Sec Commerce or President.

Not bad for an orphan and school dropout. And the very first student admitted to Stanford.

I'll not defend his presidency. It was not good, though he was a very good Sec Commerce. But by his curriculum vitae he should have been a great president.

I am a big fan of Citizen Hoover. Not a big fan of President Hoover, though I think he was not as bad as popular opinion has it.

John Henry

Ralph L said...

From his words about his favorite book list:
"A murder mystery set in 16th-century Istanbul"
I wonder if he knows it was Constantinople in the Ottoman era.

Molly said...

(eaglebeak)

Google This

I say Pete's a Mickey Mouse candidate.

Mickey goes back to 1928. It must be a generational thing.

Jim at said...

The intro "I'll be honest" can be used to lie...

If Obama said, "Let me be perfectly clear ..." - and he said that a lot - you knew a whopper was soon to follow.

Condescending prick.

Sebastian said...

"a President should have a grasp of earlier times"

Yeah, like the earlier times when the Bible taught Christians that gay sex was not OK, and when due process did not mandate SSM. But that was, like, more than 100 years ago, so way, way early.

Nobody said...

to read Le Petit Prince

Buttigieg does sort of look like Le Petit Prance

Vet66 said...

With a name like "Buttigeig" he reminds me of Don Martin's comedic sketches that includes a guy who jumps off a tall building and misses the safety net which moves around as a good target but is replaced by two guys carrying a harp out of the building. Buttigeig epitomizes "WHAT? Me worry?" as the saying goes. The "harp" plays for thee."

Nobody said...

Learning a language to read it is not really a productive use of one’s time unless one is doing it for the challenge. Especially an English speaker who has every serious, significant, or popular book available in translation. But it’s a hobby for many, like fly fishing or hunting upland game birds. Neither one of those activities is going to put meat on the table in proportion to the time spent, but people do it for their own reasons.

Achilles said...

Yancey Ward said...
It was actually a pretty good response, but he definitely missed the real riposte of "What, me worry?" That would have been brilliant.

As I was reading Trump's tweet I instinctively thought he was leaving himself wide open to Buttigieg tweeting back "What, me worry?"

It would have put Buttigieg on that level.

But I think Trump knew Buttigieg is a lightweight and cannot think that fast.

Academics who are "intellectually curious" are generally useless in real life situations. They are great for reading a book and writing a book report. But in a cloudy world where there is no right answer they are terrible.

This is in contrast to Trump who is results oriented. There is no right answer, but Trump can find an answer.

Buttigieg and Trump are polar opposites. We need some Buttigiegs around, but no where near the office of president. Carter made that abundantly clear.

Buttigieg is just a gay Carter with about 40 less IQ.

Limited blogger said...

Trump scored a three pointer over Mayor Pete. The mayor makes a free throw.

Trump 3 Pete 1

Bilwick said...

Red Diaper Buttboy only will read MAD if there's an edition in Norwegian.

FullMoon said...

Learning a language to read it is not really a productive use of one’s time unless one is doing it for the challenge

Deciphering narciso is worth the challenge.

mockturtle said...

Academics who are "intellectually curious" are generally useless in real life situations.

Achilles, that is an astute observation. My late husband was a brilliant scientist and brilliant in many other respects, witty and well read. But in a crisis he was hopeless. He would literally sit staring at his lap [like when our boat ran aground] waiting for something to happen. Luckily, that's where I would shine. More like Trump, I am a results oriented problem solver. Sometimes complementary traits are a good combination.

Fen said...

his reading list shows intellectual curiosity

Remember when Beto's skateboarding and guitar playing was considered cool?

And the reading list is a pose. How naive can you be?

Fen said...

Oh! John Kerry on a racing bike with the aerodynamic helmet!

Sooooo dreamy! Right?

Dems are like silly schoolgirls with their latest crush.

rcocean said...

"I am a big fan of Citizen Hoover. Not a big fan of President Hoover, though I think he was not as bad as popular opinion has it."

Agree. Although he was simply the President in charge of the ship when it hit the financial Iceberg.

Had Al Smith or FDR been elected in 1928, they'd have been 1 term failures. Had Hoover been elected in 1920 or 1936, he'd have gone down as a good solid "Progressive" President. But he was elected at *absolutely* the worst time for someone who believed in "free enterprise". Its almost like God was punishing him for something.

You can say the same thing about Nixon. Had he been elected in 1960, he might have gone down as a great President. He would've had Ike advising him and a lot of the Eisenhower aides helping him out. And he could've concentrated on foreign policy more.

Fen said...

It doesn't really matter though. People are not going to elect a man who takes a dick up his asshole as their leader. They will be tolerant and gracious about his fetish in the bleachers at T-ball game, but they don't want him coaching their kids.

Next.

rcocean said...

Other than reading the menu and street signs my HS french was completely worthless. Real Frenchman speak so fast, I could only understand every other word. Meanwhile, MY French was so laborious, it caused them pain to hear it. Usually, they would say, "Perhaps we Should speak English"

rcocean said...

"People are not going to elect a man who takes a dick up his asshole as their leader.

They would have re-elected the Guy getting Lewinsky's in the White House, if Bill could've run in 2000. Incredibly enough.

FullMoon said...

Academics who are "intellectually curious" are generally useless in real life situations.

Ya gotta tell 'em, righty tighty, lefty loosey.

Not all of them, of course.

Nobody said...

They have all learned from Marco Rubio’s mistake, except maybe Joe Biden.

rehajm said...

Democrats are old and they know who Alfred E. is. This young whippersnapper isn’t going to garner their votes.

Is he running for the cabinet?

loudogblog said...

I really loved Mad magazine when I was a kid. (About 20 years ago, I actually bought a cd-rom set of the first few decades of the magazine and it's currently about two feet away from me right now.) Their political humor in the 1960s was especially sophisticated. Granted, they're past their prime; but I still like the way they poke fun at both sides. They make fun of Trump but they also made fun of Obama. Someone should get Mayor Pete a potted avocado tree named Arthur, and a potrzebie of axolotl.

TJM said...

Inga the Loon,

Don, Jr. and Eric have actually accomplished something, unlike Dumb as a Box of Rocks Chelsea Clintoon (Clintonista John Podesta stated that, so it must be true)

Francisco D said...

Even with all that, I would never try to read something in Spanish if a decent English translation is available.

After reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I wanted to learn Spanish to read in the original.

Alas, I am much older than Mayor Buttplug. My capacity and time for learning another language is just not there.

narciso said...

It's interesting I've noted with certainly the English translation of volpe and Vazquez Gomez they are better than the original la guage

narciso said...

They were saying the same about jeb and w twenty eight years ago:

https://mobile.twitter.com/BenKTallmadge/status/1124777854950993920

Zach said...


Missed opportunity for a "Cocaine Mitch" style appropriation.

Alfred E. Neuman is the HERO of Mad Magazine. He's the one who's always in on the joke.

Someone who is, say, a bit of an obnoxious striver running for a job well above his head could do worse than coming out with a "What, me worry?" button to take the edge off.

Claiming not to get the joke or trying to turn it around just makes it stick.

There are an endless number of clever Mad parodies that are ripe for repurposing. I don't think you want to preemptively announce that you're the square who doesn't get it.

Crazy World said...

Mayor Pete should be over the moon tonight that President Donald J Trump assigned him a wonderful glorious name.

DavidUW97 said...

The language thing is interesting.
Arab significant other, grew up in Morocco, educated in France, been living here for a decade.
Her English is still so so, she's forgotten her Arabic, and so we talk in Franglish.

Deep Runner said...

Boot-edge-edge is way out of his league. He's the Flavor-Flav of the month. He will end up like alleged Hispanic Robert O'Rourke, just a guy who has his 15 minutes and then will be passed by The Next Big Thing (hint--it ain't America's Gropin' Grandpa).

Danno said...

Blogger tcrosse said...Say, what ever became of that nice young O'Rourke fellow?

As a former Minnesotan you will be pleased to hear that Beta O'Dork did a campaign stop in Lakeville, MN a few days ago.

Brian said...

Once you see Pete as Newman you can't unsee it...

Charles said...

Remember that Biden once called on a paraplegic in a wheelchair to "stand up" and ask a question.

Unknown said...

Pete B should have said

"I am more of a Cracked man".