What’s Wrong With Pete Buttigieg

Cory Doctorow
2 min readFeb 12, 2023

The people apologizing for Secretary Buttigieg like to say that he’s not the Emperor of Transportation, who can just snap his fingers and make regulation based on the latest headlines.

That’s true, which is why Buttigieg’s critics have spent two years sounding the increasingly urgent alarm over the fact that he hasn’t commenced market studies or hearings on (e.g.) airline IT dysfunctions or rail staffing or rail safety or the factual record on Trump-era rollbacks of braking regulations.

Lacking market studies or hearings, he’s failed to publish NOIs (notices of inquiry) to develop a factual record on the possible regulatory responses to grave, lethal, massive dysfunctions in the transportation system.

Having failed to run NOIs , he hasn’t developed a factual record that would allow him to publish NPRMs (notices of proposed rulemakings) that would lead to regulation itself.

An administratively competent Transportation Secretary should have arrived in office with a First 100 Days plan that targeted the specific dysfunctions of the transportation system — dysfunctions that had already been the subject of Congressional hearings, and also spectacular disasters — and that plan should have kicked off the instant he was sworn in.

The problem isn’t that Buttigieg isn’t lurching from crisis to crisis, chasing the latest headline.

It’s that he failed to head off the headline-making crises by failing to act with the administrative competence that the American people need and deserve from Transportation Secretary to the President of the United States of America — who is, after all, one of the most powerful people in the history of the human species.