While other Democrats have avoided the network, out Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has never shied away from appearing on Fox News.
The charismatic midwestern politician has repeatedly handled the conservative network’s “gotcha” questions and leading remarks like a pro. And during an appearance over the weekend, he proved why he’s the master of handling rightwing propaganda.
After a group of pro-choice activists protested outside a pricey D.C. steakhouse while Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh dined inside, rightwingers decried the group’s audacity to use their constitutional rights to gather and express themselves. Morton’s Steakhouse, the chain that hosted the extremist justice, even went so far as to complain that “Kavanaugh and all of our other patrons at the restaurant were unduly harassed by unruly protestors while eating dinner.”
“Politics, regardless of your side or views, should not trample the freedom at play of the right to congregate and eat dinner. There is a time and place for everything. Disturbing the dinner of all of our customers was an act of selfishness and void of decency.”
There is no right to eat dinner in peace and quiet. Kavanaugh couldn’t hear or see the protesters, but after being notified they were outside, he opted to skip dessert.
“Hate to argue with the esteemed constitutional scholars at Morton’s Steakhouse, but the protesters also have the ‘right to congregate’ or, you know, freedom of assembly,” one social media user snarked.
Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, also tweeted about the controversy, sending, “Sounds like he just wanted some privacy to make his own dining decisions.”
“Your husband tweeted after Justice Brett Kavanaugh left a Washington restaurant due to protesters,” the Fox host told Buttigieg. “Is that appropriate, sir?”
Buttigieg, who as a gay man running in the Democratic presidential primary was continually hounded by religious right activists, had a sharp and pointed response.
“Look, when public officials go into public life, we should expect two things. One, you should always be free from violence, harassment, and intimidation. And two, you’re never going to be free from criticism or peaceful protests, people exercising their First Amendment rights,” Buttigieg said. “That’s what happened in this case.”
“Remember, the justice never even came into contact with these protesters they reportedly didn’t see or hear them. And these protesters are upset, because a right, an important right, that the majority of Americans support was taken away, not only the right to choose, by the way, but this justice was part of the process of stripping away the right to privacy.”
“So yes, people are upset,” he continued. “They’re going to exercise their First Amendment rights. And as long as that’s peaceful, that’s protected. Compare that for example, to the reality that as a country right now, we’re reckoning with the fact that a mob, summoned by the former president of the United States Capitol for the purpose of overthrowing the election, and very nearly succeeded in preventing the peaceful transfer of power. I think common sense can tell the difference.”
“But as a high profile public figure, sir, are you comfortable with protesters protesting when you and your husband go to dinner at a restaurant?” the reporter asked without an inkling of the amount of vitriol the men have faced in public life.
“Protesting peacefully outside in a public space? Sure,” Buttigieg shot back. “Look, I can’t even tell you the number of spaces, venues, and scenarios where I’ve been protested. And the bottom line is this: any public figure should always always be free from violence, intimidation and harassment, but should never be free from criticism, or people exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Sounds like he just wanted some privacy to make his own dining decisions. https://t.co/pAUiYqxIHT
— Chasten Buttigieg (@Chasten) July 8, 2022
Hate to argue with the esteemed constitutional scholars at Morton's Steakhouse, but the protesters also have the "right to congregate" or, you know, freedom of assembly. https://t.co/t465H1xd50
— The Rude Pundit (@rudepundit) July 8, 2022
Pete Buttigieg just gave a masterclass on owning the conversation on Fox News. pic.twitter.com/u1lO5NVYkI
— MeidasTouch.com (@MeidasTouch) July 10, 2022