In Pete’s Words: The Harvard Crimson

Enjoy columns written by then-student
Pete Buttigieg from 2003 and 2004


The Liberal Art of Redefinition

May 28, 2004 – Compassion. Strength. Morality.

Seeing is Believing

May 10, 2004 – Wilfred Owen and Donald Rumsfeld have next to nothing in common, but Owen’s most important poem and Rumsfeld’s most important Senate testimony Friday share the same controlling nuance…

Making it Worse

April 26, 2004 – One of the classic devices in situation comedy—and some tragedy—is for a character’s solution to a simple problem to prove worse than the problem itself. Rather than accept the consequences of a mistake, the hero comes up with a solution that makes things worse, until things escalate into a climax either with hilarious consequences, or catastrophe, depending on the genre…

Parts of Speech

April 12, 2004 – Politics is always novelistic, but the last week’s worth of news had me flashing back to high school English class…

Running Out of Context

March 22, 2004 – In the middle of a book of short sayings and poems, the great Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran (1883-1931) wrote, “Half of what I am telling you has no meaning. But I am telling it to you so that you will understand the meaning of the other half.” It is a defense of the importance of context and it is timely today. In a presidential election year, context is as acutely necessary as it is rare…

Future Imperfect

March 08, 2004 – History has its place, but a lack of balance in the campaign—evidenced by the fact that people know more about his Vietnam service than his politics—can only play into Bush’s hands by taking focus away from the future, which is where his true advantage lies…

1968 Revisited

February 23, 2004 – “The past is never dead,” Faulkner famously said. “It isn’t even past.” As if to prove him right, the press stayed busy last week exploring the dubious narrative of how President Bush got into, and out of, service in the National Guard during the Vietnam War, eyeing its implications for the coming election…

Prudes and Puritans

February 09, 2004 – The American Right Wing is not comfortable with the female form. So we were reminded last week, when Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell voiced his horror at the half-second exposure of Janet Jackson’s famous right breast during the Super Bowl…

Story Lines

January 26, 2004 – Americans need a narrative. Seeking patterns and repetition in history is rooted in the American tradition, ever since the Puritans sought to explain current events in terms of Biblical precedent. Known as typology, their method of reading history, literature and scripture reinforced the idea of divine providence by showing how current events were history in the making, repeating events from earlier, usually in the Bible…

A Vision Thing

January 14, 2004 – Democrats who feel emboldened by weaknesses in the administration are right to look forward to developments in 2004 like the special prosecutor investigation of the CIA leak from the White House, or a forthcoming report by the 9/11 commission that will likely embarrass the President. But those who count on it to bring down the administration are urinating on the wrong tree…

The Struggle for Language

December 08, 2003 – Conservative control over the language of policy is largely creditable to an extremely effective intellectual infrastructure, but the structure of the media makes it all possible. When all discourse must be reduced to brief television packages, anyone who can come up with a two-word version of a complex policy will be rewarded…

Lessons Unlearned

November 24, 2003 – For all the worrisome (comforting?) continuity between the tone of news culture five years ago and its tone today, no one can deny that, unlike the media, political culture has profoundly changed. This asymmetry is dangerous…

Rock the Vote?

November 10, 2003 – Music is always regarded as an index of the times, so a glance at what’s changed in our short student lifetimes could tell us a thing or two. And indeed, there are some lessons in even a casual overview of what has happened to campus music trends just in the last few years…

Hollywood Hypocrisy vs. Neo-Liberal Neurosis

October 27, 2003 – If precedent is any guide, Chris Matthews will ask Al Sharpton tonight at the Institute of Politics (IOP) what his favorite movie is. And if precedent is any guide, it will be his most difficult question of the night. On each of our last two Monday nights of Hardball, the candidate-guest has struggled with the first genuine softball of the evening…

Presidential Poetry

October 14, 2003 – “If more politicians knew poetry and more poets knew politics,” said John F. Kennedy ’40, “I am convinced that the world would be a better place in which to live.” In fact, poetry and politics have had a longstanding relationship…

Frightened—and Fighting Fear

September 29, 2003 – If you feel like getting goose bumps today, borrow your English-concentrating roommate’s copy of the Norton Anthology of English Literature and read W. B. Yeats’ poem, “The Second Coming.” Though written in Ireland in 1922, many observers have pointed out that the poem seems almost explicitly about the second coming of the Bush Administration…

The Prospects of Its Youth

February 06, 2003 – Recently, public service has come to be understood exclusively as the direct assistance of the unfortunate by those who are able to help—an activity most commonly described as “community service.” Such activity, from tutoring immigrant children in English to volunteering at a homeless shelter, is rightly one of the cornerstones of extracurricular involvement on our campus…

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