At home, he is the unassuming former mayor of a small town in Indiana, where he lives happily with his husband, a junior high school teacher, and their two lazy dogs.
But on cable TV, where he has emerged in the homestretch of the presidential campaign as a likable and lethal surrogate for Democrat Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg is something else: "Slayer Pete".
Conferred on Buttigieg by the Los Angeles Times columnist Mary McNamara, the nickname captures the efficacy with which Buttigieg has turned his rhetorical chops to the task of obliterating apologists for Donald Trump.
Buttigieg's biggest scores have come on Fox News, an arena not many Democrats deign to enter, unwilling or unable to argue against an alternative reality where Covid-19 is a hoax, Hillary Clinton is public enemy No 1 and Trump is infallible.
But if the echo-chamber quality of most Fox broadcasts has led the hosts into a sense of complacency when challenging their guests, they have recently been fed rude surprises – in the nicest possible way – by the rapier-tongued "mayor Pete" (his other nickname).
Before the vice-presidential debate, Buttigieg, whose own presidential bid came to an end in March, was asked on Fox News why Kamala Harris, Biden's running mate, had modified her stance on healthcare reform after joining the presidential ticket.
"Well, there's a classic parlor game of trying to find a little bit of daylight between running mates," Buttigieg said. "And if people want to play that game, we could look into why an evangelical Christian like Mike Pence wants to be on a ticket with the president caught with a porn star, or how he feels about the immigration policy that he called 'unconstitutional' before he decided to team up with Donald Trump."
Pete Buttigieg - Fox News might not let you back after you destroyed their set like that 😂 #Debates2020 https://t.co/pWyCvBwxjo— Nerdy Pursuit (@Nerdy Pursuit) 1602115746.0
Buttigieg is not universally loved. His record on policing and racial justice as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has been heavily criticized, and during the Democratic primary he had a long-running feud with Senator Amy Klobuchar, who in one debate quipped: "I wish everyone was as perfect as you, Pete."
But with the Democrats having mended their differences and the battle lines now clearly drawn in an election with epic stakes, Biden supporters of every persuasion might feel free to sit back and enjoy one thing Buttigieg does seem practically perfect at: dissecting Trump sycophants with a smile.
When Fox host Steve Doocy tried to hit Biden for declining to debate Trump in person in the aftermath of Trump's coronavirus diagnosis, Buttigieg deftly turned the tables.
"It's too bad," he said. "I don't know why the president's afraid to debate. All of us have had to get used to a virtual format. Parents are having to deal with e-learning, which is not what we're used to. We're having to take meetings over Zoom. It's not something I think most of us enjoy, but it's a safety measure.
"I think part of why the US is badly behind the rest of the developed world on dealing with the pandemic is because every time there's been a choice between doing something in a way that's more safe or less safe, this president seems to push for less safe."
Pete Buttigieg is on a campaign to calmly eviscerate every Fox host before Election Day https://t.co/QhRdjRf64b— Tim Hogan (@Tim Hogan) 1602170555.0
The range of Buttigieg's analytical intelligence was on display in an interview in a friendlier forum, on MSNBC, when he was asked about a call by supreme court nominee Amy Coney Barrett for rulings to be "fairly reasoned and grounded in the law".
"This is what nominees do," Buttigieg said. "They write the most seemingly unobjectionable, dry stuff. But really what I see in there is a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility."
"At the end of the day, rights in this country have been expanded because courts have understood what the true meaning of the letter of the law and the spirit of the constitution is.
"And that is not about time-traveling yourself back to the 18th century and subjecting yourself to the same prejudices and limitations as the people who write these words.
"The constitution is a living document because the English language is a living language. And you need to have some readiness to understand that in order to serve on the court in a way that will actually make life better."
Buttigieg then quoted Thomas Jefferson, smiled, and finished with a dagger: "Even the founders that these kind of dead-hand originalists claim fidelity to understood better than their ideological descendants, today's judicial so-called conservatives, the importance of keeping with the times."
Tim McCarthy, The Guardian, October 13, 2020
October 13, 2020
Voices4America Post Script. #SlayerPete Pete Buttigieg promised to help elect Joe and Kamala and he has delivered in spades, with class, competence and calm. #SlayerPete #Vote4Decency #BlueHouse #BlueSenate #BidenHarris2020
I thought you might want to read the LA Times summary of #SlayerPete too.