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The other night, I came across the following photograph of Democratic presidential hopefuls Beto O’Rourke and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Criticisms of Beto aside, it was a nice move for him to help this lost boy find his mom at the airport today pic.twitter.com/vco5Kth7Ma— jordan (@JordanUhl) June 7, 2019
Either Beto is a towering giant or Mayor Pete is a small king. Or both. So I did what any good American would do and went to Google. There it… sort of was.
According to Wikipedia, which we have to assume is maintained by his campaign, O’Rourke is 6’4”.
But what about Buttigieg? Nothing comes up on Google, and the Wikipedia entry is shockingly blank.
There’s nothing there.
And all other results are of questionable accuracy. CelebSiren.com lists Pete’s height as “not available.”
A few pages into the results, the super legitimate StarsUnfolded.com approximates Mayor Pete’s height at 5’8”. That site also pinned down Pete’s eye color at “Lavender Gray.”
More legitimate journalism hasn’t found the space to speak about his size.
For instance, The Cut’s March 21, 2019 article “What to Know About Mayor Pete“ did not find his height something worth knowing, but did find this clip of Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, playing youth basketball to be vital information for prospective voters. And this April Business Insider article titled “Who is Pete Buttigieg?“ also found the man’s size not worth noting.
I reached out to the South Bend Mayor’s Office, Pete Buttigieg’s campaign headquarters, and Twitter-popular Chasten for comment. All declined. Anecdotally, one intrepid high school student (or so this tweet claims) got an answer from Buttigieg’s campaign at 5’9”.
To clarify the campaign clarified he was 5'9", the professor still think he's 5'7"— Imperial Potato Office (@CaseyCho1942) April 30, 2019
Other 2020 presidential hopefuls have not been as shy about their status as a Short King, Medium King, Small Giant, or Towering Behemoth. In descending order, Sen. Corey Booker is 6’2”, Sen. Bernie Sanders is 6’0”, Vice President Joe Biden is 6’0”, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is 5’8”, and Sen. Kamala Harris is 5’2”.
Am I being petty? You’ve undoubtedly seen data that since 1900, the taller candidate has won the presidency 19 times compared to eight for the shorter candidate. The average height of United States presidents since 1900 has been 5’10”. The taller candidate also typically wins most televised debates.
It’s likely that Buttigieg HQ knows all of this and is working hard to obscure the fact that Mayor Pete is merely medium height (or shorter).
Thankfully, there are literally infinite ways to make short kings get in line with their scene partners. The most common are apple boxes, which is a fancy Hollywood name for a wooden box one stands on. There’s also Photoshop, limiting the background focus of passersby, or shooting the subject from below or above.
There’s also “the FDR,” where you only shoot them sitting in a chair. Worked for FDR!
The possibilities are limitless, as long as you prohibit your candidate from standing next to extremely tall people. Especially not 6’4” folks named Beto O’Rourke.
Here are some good examples from Buttigieg’s Instagram of efforts to hide his height:
The “shot from below”
The “surround him with shorties” (in this case, a child)
The apple box
But the campaign isn’t perfect in keeping his height under wraps. Here’s Pete with Obama (6’1”).
A great pleasure to welcome Barack Obama to South Bend International Airport and join him during his visit to Elkhart....Posted by Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Wednesday, June 1, 2016
And on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon (6’0”).
Is Pete or his staff hiding his height at all? Height isn’t something one can change (yet), and it’s shitty that statistics tell us voters care about something so trivial, even if it’s subconsciously. But whether you care about candidate height or not, or think it’s a predictor or not, we’re all going to find out sooner or later.
Even at the debates, on a sky-high apple box, Buttigieg will have to step off of it and shake 6’2” Sen. Booker’s hand.
And while political height-shaming is nothing but body negativity and some Nate Silver statistical bullshit, maybe it’s a story the team should be getting in front of. Because they are missing the opportunity of a lifetime: to connect their millennial candidate to a meme.
Buttigieg, by presidential standards and this Urban Dictionary entry, is a true short king.
Tall men get so much love, I want a short king. If you're 5' 7" and below hmu— cancerian queen (@meechaleech711) June 26, 2018
Short men are kings!— persian prinny (@comellyx) June 9, 2019
To quote writer Miles Klee, being a short king should be a point of pride.
“…a short king celebrates his height, always wearing it well. He’s never been envious of a six-foot-plus dude’s gawky frame, and he sure as hell doesn’t add inches to his own measurements to impress anyone. He won’t be contained by the stereotype of the short man as an angry little Napoleon, nor the insulting idea that he’s somehow not as masculine. For him, shortness is not a liability, but an advantage — it’s crisply elegant and efficient.”
Mayor Pete stands among short kings, such as Gandhi, MLK Jr., Bruno Mars, Oscar Issac, and Danny Devito. For the D.C.-set, Pete is a small man standing shoulder-to-shoulder with small giants, Short King presidents like Ulysses S. Grant (5’8”) and James Madison (5’4”).
We may not be a monarchy, but a short king could be president, in the non-monarchical sense of the word!
Short King Appreciation Day falls on the summer solstice (June 21 of this year), and I think it would be a perfect day for Buttigieg to make his debut as the Democrats mighty mite, a true Short King among men.
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Claire Downs is a tech reporter who covers the intersection of the internet and pop culture. A third-generation worker in the Chicago futures industry, she specializes in cryptocurrencies and altcoins. Her work can also be seen in Cosmopolitan, Vice Motherboard, VH1.com, and Merry Jane.