Saagar Enjeti dismisses Buttigieg over policies: He 'really is a neoliberal shapeshifter'

Opinion by: Saagar Enjeti

Well, Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegGabbard moves to New Hampshire ahead of primary LGBTQ advocates slam Buttigieg for past history with Salvation Army Poll: 2020 general election remains wide open MORE is reinventing himself again.

The New York Times has an amazing new story filled with gory details of the effort which I must highlight for you all. The headline reads, "As a centrist path opens, Pete Buttigieg moves towards it."

A close reading, however, shows that the South Bend Mayor really is a neoliberal shapeshifter who bows wherever the wind blows for political expediency and much like his rival Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGabbard moves to New Hampshire ahead of primary LGBTQ advocates slam Buttigieg for past history with Salvation Army Saagar Enjeti unpacks why Kamala Harris's campaign didn't work MORE avoids specifics on anything controversial to allow himself exactly the type of pivot that he's now exhibiting. The Times shows that in June the mayor was calling for decriminalized border crossings and dismissed criticism of raising taxes on the middle class to pay for health care.

By October, they say that his pivot to the center entails a climate focused TV ad which says, "I believe that we need to have a plan that works for us all." He later equivocated in a CNN interview about whether he would actually commit to his border promise, and of course he has been attacking Elizabeth Warren for not having a plan to pay for her health care plan during the debate.

The Times may see a remarkable pivot, but what I and most of you see is exactly the same person. I mean, saying you need a climate plan that works for us all is the definition of meaningless. Paying lip service to the immigration issue in the summer when tensions are high and then not clarifying where you stand in the fall are exactly the same position of opportunism and emptiness.

It reminds me of a great moment on this show when we all had a great laugh at his first campaign ad:

As for Medicare-for-All who want it, well. I refuse to believe that the name is not the product of extensive poll testing to gaslight those who want Universal Healthcare and placate the skeptics. On that I appear to be right, the Times tell us in their story that the Mayor's campaign spent three times every other rival campaign on polling save for billionaire Tom SteyerThomas (Tom) Fahr SteyerHarris posts video asking baby if she'll run for president one day Teamsters to host presidential forum with six 2020 Democrats Booker notes 'anger' over more billionaires than black candidates in 2020 race MORE.

Van Jones dubbed Buttigieg “Pistol Pete” after the last debate, it's looking a lot more like “Poll Tested Pete” to me. Lets see if we can get that one trending.

Further within the story is more evidence of Buttigieg's shapeshifting. The South Bend Mayor grabbed a lot of headlines in the summer when he was discussing packing the Supreme Court and abolishing the electoral college. So much noise in fact that I even featured a guest on this show who celebrated his plan. The Times says however that Pete's big dollar donors and his financial bundlers told him to stop saying that because it was too radical, and lo and behold its missing now from his stump speech.

That's all it takes to get Pete Buttigieg to change his mind. Polls and a few calls from his Silicon Valley and Wall Street donors.

The funny thing is however that Buttigieg's entire gamble is based on ideology and not on how voters actually operate.

The latest Morning Consult Second Choice data tells us that the second choice for Biden voters is Elizabeth Warren and Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard moves to New Hampshire ahead of primary Sanders to join youth climate strikers in Iowa Saagar Enjeti unpacks why Kamala Harris's campaign didn't work MORE. The second choice for Bernie voters is Elizabeth Warren and Joe BidenJoe BidenGabbard moves to New Hampshire ahead of primary Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Trump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans MORE. The second choice for Warren voters is? You guessed it Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden.

Buttigieg may be doing well in Iowa, but it's a long race to that convention. The truth is that national Democratic primary process really doesn't very have much room for him. That's because that Second Choice data tells us the truth behind what voters actually want, someone they can trust.

With Biden, you can trust you'll get more of the same you had under Obama. With Bernie, you’ve been saying basically the same thing for 40 years. And with Elizabeth Warren, you can be reasonably certain you'll get some pretty transformative executive changes. With Pete Buttigieg you don't know what the hell you're going to get, except platitudes.