Cigar in hand, Rush Limbaugh spent an evening last Sunday watching a CNN presidential town hall. As a very influential conservative radio presenter who helped Donald Trump win the White House win, Limbaugh is not the kind of voter that Democratic presidential hopefuls think he can achieve through events organized in the United States. city halls.
But Limbaugh had to admit he was impressed by one of the candidates: the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg.
A few days later, on his radio show, Limbaugh had predicted that Buttigieg, a "friendly" man, would "make minced meat" from his main rivals.
"There was no radicalism," Limbaugh said.
A month later, Buttigieg is on the rise in polls – and Limbaugh does not like it anymore.
On April 1, the same day Buttigieg announced that he had raised $ 7 million, Limbaugh told the audience that Buttigieg now had many "radical ideas." He went much further one day later, suggesting that the recently deceased father of the mayor of the millennium, an expert on the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, had indoctrinated his son to communism.
"He grew up learning Gramsci, Marx and Engels," Limbaugh said of young Buttigieg. "He did not grow up learning about Madison, Jefferson and Washington."
Limbaugh's turn against Buttigieg reflected the rapid turnaround of many popular right-wing commentators while Buttigieg had a positive hedge, moving from an interesting anomaly to an astonishing fundraiser and a potential presidential candidate. On Thursday morning, he posted a video teasing a major announcement for 2020 on April 14th.
Buttigieg's curriculum vitae and political instincts attracted the Conservatives in a way that, at least temporarily, complicated the right-wing punditry who found something to dislike other Democratic candidates.
It is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who often speaks of his history of military service. He is the mayor of a small post-industrial Midwestern town that focuses on issues related to bipartite calling, such as infrastructure. He was not afraid to sympathize with Trump's "left-behind" voters or criticize popular Republican fights such as Hillary Clinton. And he has largely tried to avoid cultural war problems, even by renting Chick-fil-A sandwiches.
Pressed to know how to handle a gay military veteran who lacks the obvious political baggage of many of his major opponents, some right wing members have actually adopted Buttigieg, while others are perfecting their attacks.
More specifically, it seems, Buttigieg has especially seduced the skeptical conservatives of Trump and center-right experts.
National examination Writer Jim Geraghty admitted to having a "complicated and confrontational" impression of Buttigieg's presidential candidacy. Prominent critic of Trump and former Weekly standard Chief Bill Kristol dreamed of a general election showdown between Buttigieg and Maryland governor Larry Hogan, who would consider a major challenge for Trump.
Other right-wing experts congratulated the mayor for not appearing too eager to fight on the liberal side of the culture war.
CommentNoah Rothman stated that Buttigieg appeared to be a libertarian on certain topics, and praised the mayor, 37, who "steadfastly refused to get bogged down in the Democrats' awakening, and he managed to avoid engaging with his presidential confrere candidates for the arms race of the cultural war. " New York Times Columnist David Brooks dedicated an entire column to Buttigieg's appeal to voters who "do not want to fight the white identity policy with another type of identity politics".
Even some of the most virulent and far-right Trump rappers have praised the South Bend mayor's campaign messages, if not his policy.
Fox News host Jeanine Pirro and former Trump campaign director Corey Lewandowski both praised Buttigieg's strategy of focusing on a message from the Democratic Party going beyond the simple criticism of Trump.
"I have to tell you, why do not some of the pioneers do what this guy is talking about? Because he's right, "she says.
"Pete's message is probably the right message for the Democrats: Stop attacking Donald Trump, and find something positive you can really do for the country," added Lewandowski.
Long-term candidates who break with the party orthodoxy often become political tools for expert supporters who want to undermine the pioneers.
For example, in recent months, Fox News host Tucker Carlson has sometimes defended representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) against attacks by Democrats who are skeptical of his position on the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. The potential presidential candidate, the representative, Tim Ryan, was also praised by some right-wing members for his open criticism of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a false media mogul. of right.
Former Democratic leaders also found brief support among some center-right editorialists. Brooks loved Sen enough at the time. Barack Obama, in the 2008 election, when Politico launched a Brooks-O-Meter to determine how far each column was positive or negative about the Democratic candidate.
The experts on the right had already shot at Buttigieg before even starting to gain ground in the primary. Fox News commentators have put Buttigieg in touch with other Democrat candidates who, in their view, are wrong to eliminate the electoral college and add new judges to the Supreme Court in order to "queue up" .
But as Buttigieg climbed the polls, the negative coverage on much of the right has intensified and some lines of attack from the conservative media have been hit by the mayor's treatment.
Tuesday, the Washington Examiner published an article on the Marxist views of Buttigieg's father, which was quickly picked up by leading conservatives as a way to portray young Buttigieg as a convinced Communist.
Other, more marginal, outlets have recently offered similar coverage. The Gateway Pundit, a pro-Trump blog prone to publishing conspiracy theories and unverified statements, said Buttigieg for the first time Wednesday, calling his position "rights."
Fox host Laura Ingraham devoted part of her show to Buttigieg on Tuesday, showing her audience excerpts of Buttigieg's praise from MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and CNN's commentator. Ana Navarro, two center-right television experts considered by Traump as traitors to the Republican Party.
"Coastal elites? I do not think they've ever loved a Midwest as much as they like Pete, "Ingraham said.
The Fox star in prime time also criticized Buttigieg's comments about her faith. "He says he's a traditional episcopalian, whatever that sounds like today," she growled.
Ingraham also took note of Limbaugh's attack on Buttigieg about his father, trying to connect the mayor to the views of his "radical" father.
"Pete was close to his father, which is predictable, which will cause many voters to wonder how far the apple has fallen from the tree," Ingraham said.
Ingraham concluded by talking about Buttigieg's ability to speak seven languages, which made him become a darling with more institutions, skeptical figures right.
"The" cool "fact that" Pete "speaks seven languages does not change the fact that socialism does not work in any of them," Ingraham said.
But even part of this negative coverage concedes some positive attributes to Buttigieg. A columnist on the Trump-boosting website The federalist argued that even if he would never be president, he is "cheerful and substantial" and will have a "long and productive career in politics".