You probably can’t. (This is Elaine Chao, who is also married to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell).
This fits the profile of the average transport minister. It’s not much.
All this raises the question: Why did Pete Buttigieg, who came out of nowhere to stand in the 2020 presidential election, agree to become transport minister in the cabinet of President-elect Joe Biden? Isn’t that a little small for someone with the skills and political ambitions of the Buttigiegs?
These questions make sense – after all, no ambitious politician dreams of becoming Minister of Transport – but they also miss the point. Or, period(s).
1) Buttigieg’s highest position ever was mayor of his hometown South Bend, Indiana – population 101,000. He never worked in D.C. Not only has he never managed or controlled a large agency, he has never controlled an even larger federal bureaucracy. If confirmed, Mr. Buttigieg will run a department with 55,000 employees.
2) Biden has made the reconstruction of US infrastructure an important goal of his presidency. (Infrastructure Week was the culmination of Mr Trump’s four-year term of office). In his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention, Biden specifically mentioned initiatives that would fall under the jurisdiction of the Buttigiegs.
This is the heart of the matter:
That’s why my economic plan is work, dignity, respect and community. Together we can and will rebuild our economy. And when we do, we’ll not only rebuild it, we’ll improve it. With modern roads, bridges, highways, broadband networks, ports and airports as a new basis for economic growth. With pipes that provide every community with clean water. With 5 million new jobs in manufacturing and technology, the future lies in America.
This priority – assuming Biden succeeds – puts Buttigieg at the forefront of efforts to rebuild the crumbling American infrastructure – something many presidents have talked about, but never took the time to do.
3) The proposed Biden company does not have many tried and tested TV communicators. If you like or hate Buttigieg, it is hard to deny that he is very good on television. And every successful administration should have people who can go on cable and Sunday talk shows to sell their priorities. This puts Battigiega at the top of the list of the most prominent persons in the administration.
4) Buttigieg is a botanist. Yeah, there’s no doubt there’s a political calculation behind his decision. (See #1, #2 and #3.) In fact, he’s a very shaky guy whose favorite board games include Ticket to Ride and Risk, tweeted Midwest reporter Adam Wren. Heck, Buttigieg spoke on the spot during the presidential campaign about South Bend’s smart sewer program!
If you add it all up, the position of transport secretary makes perfect sense for Mr Buttigieg, who is trying to build and refine a CV for a future national bid.