South Dakota Politics
A University of South Dakota law student's blog dedicated primarily to shining light (either a harsh, unyielding spotlight or a soft, warm glow) on figures and institutions in South Dakota.

Saturday, March 29, 2003  

A week ago, Tom Daschle said that Republican objection over his intemperate comments had subsided. Apparently, South Dakota voter objection has not subsided. Of course, Tom knows that he has made his reelection chances a little less likely and is backpedaling. Tom is also doing some damage control. Read the e-mail below that Daschle has sent to his supporters all across the state of South Dakota:

March 26, 2003


This is a challenging and important time for our country and for the world. As the war on Iraq continues, we pray for our troops and for all the people affected by this conflict. If you have family members or loved ones involved, our thoughts are with them and you.

At a time like this, personal political attacks should be set aside and leaders should come together for the good of our nation. Last week, following a statement by Senator Daschle where he criticized the Administration’s diplomatic efforts, the conservative attack machine went into full swing. Congressman Tom DeLay, John Thune, the Republican National Committee and a bunch of their allies put out scathing attacks on Senator Daschle – going so far as to even question his patriotism.

In response, Senator Daschle said, “Let me just simply say, as a veteran, there is no question that I stand strongly with the troops. I always will. I feel very strongly about our obligation to support the troops, and I have said in every way, shape and form that will continue. But I do think we have to be honest and open in a democracy. I think to do anything less is unpatriotic. And I’m going to continue to speak out where I think I have a responsibility to do so.”

While conservative critics flood their rhetoric on talk radio and in news rooms across the state and country, it is important that those of us who know Tom Daschle, as a veteran, a patriot, and the best friend South Dakota veterans have ever had, need to make our voices heard as well. Take the time to defend Senator Daschle from his critics. This is important. South Dakota daily newspapers are listed below. Please take the time to send a letter to the editor in support of Senator Daschle.

The Argus Leader letters to the editor page states: "We don't publish obvious organized attempts to flood us with mail on a given topic." An "obvious organized attempt" would be any letter that contains the themes set out in Tom's e-mail. We'll soon know if the Argus adheres to this policy.

posted by Jason | 5:10 PM

Friday, March 28, 2003  

The ACLU rides again.

posted by Jason | 2:44 PM

The Rapid City Journal reports on the fallout from Daschle's intemperate comments.

posted by Jason | 2:41 PM

Thursday, March 27, 2003  

VIA DRUDGE: More lame excuses from Tom Daschle:

In an interview from his Washington office this morning, Daschle indicated that he did not know the timing of the start of military action when he made the critical remarks. He added, "It's time to move past this."

That's baloney. Everyone in the world knew that the President had given Saddam 48 hours to leave Iraq. I think everyone could get a pretty good idea of when the military action would begin. Everyone, that is, except Tom Daschle. Give me a break.

posted by Jason | 4:01 PM

The voter identification bill has been signed into law by Governor Rounds. This will make future elections much less susceptible to voter fraud. This legislation would not have happened if it weren't for the leadership of Rep. Matt McCaulley, and as Rep. McCaulley stated:

"Verifying the identity of each voter will encourage increased participation in the election process by providing a foundation for fair and honest elections with reliable results, no matter how close the outcome. This legislation is a victory for every voter residing in South Dakota."

Kudos to Matt and everyone else who worked so hard on this. We've won!

posted by Jason | 2:45 PM

Today's Roll Call has a story about the potential effect of Tom Daschle's intemperate comments on his reelection chances. Excerpt:

One week after Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (D-S.D.) blistered
the Bush administration over its unsuccessful diplomatic efforts in
Iraq, national strategists on both sides of the aisle are debating the
effect the comments will have on his likely re-election bid in 2004.
Speaking to a union legislative conference in Washington on March 17,
Daschle said he was “saddened that this president failed so miserably
that we’re now forced to war.”
The war in Iraq began two days later, and Daschle was blasted by a
number of GOP leaders, including Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and House
Majority Leader Tom DeLay (Texas).
Daschle’s remarks generated a handful of angry editorials and letters to
the editor back home. The Yankton Press & Dakotan said that Daschle was
“singing the wrong tune.”
The criticism is now being cultivated by Republican campaign operatives
who see Daschle’s comments as crystallizing the apparent difficulty he
faces in simultaneously serving as his party’s leading statesman —and
critic of the president — while running for re-election in a state where
Bush won 60 percent of the vote in 2000.

If you're interested in seeing the entire article, let me know.

posted by Jason | 11:50 AM

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan has died. He was one of my favorite Democrats. I think the best eulogy for him actually was written a few years ago in the Economist when he retired from the Senate. Excerpt:

The retirement of a senator is not usually worth noting. One blow-dried mediocrity exchanges the corridors of power for the money-fields of corporate America. Another blow-dried mediocrity takes his place. And the business of politics goes on.

But with Daniel Patrick Moynihan things are different. Many colourful phrases have been applied to Mr Moynihan during a career that took him from a broken home to 24 years in the Senate, but "blow-dried" and "mediocrity" are not among them. His retirement on January 2nd not only deprives American politics of one of its most rambunctious characters. It also deprives Congress of its last significant intellectual--a man described by the normally sober "Almanac of American Politics" as "the nation's best thinker among politicians since Lincoln and its best politician among thinkers since Jefferson".

This is not to say that post-Moynihan Washington will be bereft of either intelligence or ideas. There are more think-tanks in Washington than ever before, and they are more enmeshed with the machinery of power. And there is no shortage of highly educated people who are willing to spend at least a few years in public life--as the thousands of ivy-clad resumes being processed by Mr Bush's transition team show.

Bill Clinton might have boasted about creating an administration that "looked like America". But he really wanted to create one that looked like the faculty lounges of the Ivy League universities. George Bush affects a Texan disdain for learning; but he still values eggheads like Condoleezza Rice and Myron Magnet.

So why is Washington mourning Mr Moynihan's loss this week? Because Mr Moynihan was unique in two important ways. The first is that he straddled the two worlds of thinking and doing. He didn't outsource his thinking to think-tanks; he thought. Most senators are too busy raising money and pressing flesh to have time to read anything. Mr Moynihan wrote more books as a senator than he did as a Harvard professor. Most public-policy intellectuals never get more of a taste of power than running their faculties. Mr Moynihan was chairman of the extremely potent Senate Finance Committee.

The second reason is that Mr Moynihan was a very different sort of intellectual from the types in the think-tanks. Such folk tend to come in two forms: narrow specialists who know the last detail about tax or tanks (and hang out in the Brookings Institution or Rand); and committed ideologues bent on weeding out the last twinge of socialism (the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute). Mr Moynihan is an old-fashioned public intellectual who has dared not only to range across the subjects but also to change his mind on fundamental questions. He worked for Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford as well as for Jack Kennedy. He was one of the architects of neo-conservatism in the 1970s--and one of the leading critics of Clintonism from the liberal left in the 1990s. His washroom on Capitol Hill used to display two magazine covers: a 1979 issue of The Nation entitled "The Conscience of a Neoconservative" and a 1981 issue of the New Republic entitled "Pat Moynihan: Neo-Liberal".

posted by Jason | 11:11 AM

Donald Lambro of the Washington Times is relentlessly pounding away at the theme of Democratic disarray this week. I think he has run three articles this week on that theme. I hope he's right.

posted by Jason | 10:40 AM

Wednesday, March 26, 2003  

A new piece in The Hill discusses another Thune run for the Senate.

posted by Jason | 4:30 PM

Donna Brazile is unhappy with the Democratic leadership:

She was especially critical of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, for not developing a more compelling message on the Iraqi regime. "There's a vacuum in the party on this. People are looking to them for leadership. The activists are being left to formulate their position without much guidance from the party. Apparently they are leaving it up to our presidential candidates."

posted by Jason | 7:51 AM

Tuesday, March 25, 2003  

Regular SDP readers will recall the fact that Linda Daschle, wife of the Democratic Leader, is a lobbyist for American Airlines. American Airlines is now near bankruptcy, and the scent of an opportunity to obtain a taxpayer funded bailout is emanating from an emergency spending proposal by the Bush administration to pay for the war in Iraq. But the administration isn't giving a dime to the airline industry, and now look who's fighting to bail the industry out:

"I think it probably needs to be (in the wartime spending package). I haven't talked to anybody about where it would go, but I think its fairly urgent," said Tom Daschle, a South Dakota Democrat and Senate minority leader.

Is this supposed to be the behavior of a senator who puts South Dakota first? Is this how Tom Daschle wields his "clout?" Last year, Tom Daschle copped out recused himself from discussions and decisions relative to the Beaver Park and Norbeck Wildlife Preserve areas in the Black Hills National Forest, saying that a conflict existed because he was a landowner in the Vanocker Canyon area near Sturgis. The real reason he wanted to avoid this issue is because the interests of South Dakota citizens in keeping the Black Hills from going up in smoke directly conflicted with the interests of out-of-state environmental extremists who cannot bear to see one tree cut down. As Kathleen Jachowski wrote at the time, Tom Daschle abandoned his first civic obligation, which is to the people of South Dakota. Now, when a real conflict arises, where Tom Daschle's wife is a lobbyist for the airline industry and Tom is seen shilling for the interests of the airlines, there's no recusal in sight. An airline industry bailout has at best an attenuated relationship to the interests of South Dakota citizens. Tom Daschle is fighting for the interests of an airline industry that employs his wife, and was nowhere to be found on an issue that affects the lives of thousands of South Dakotans. When the people of South Dakota contemplate holding their noses and voting for Tom Daschle in 2004 because of his "clout," they should come to grips with the fact that he doesn't wield his clout when it matters to South Dakotans. He does wield it when it matters to the airline industry.

UPDATE: When I was in bed last night, it occurred to me that Tom Daschle HAD made decisions regarding forest management issues, because Republicans had castigated him for making special exemptions for South Dakota. This morning, upon further research, I discovered that Tom Daschle had changed his mind about recusing himself from these issues. This was not a willful omission on my part, and I apologize to my readers, and for that matter to Tom Daschle, for my mistake. I went off half-cocked, and I've learned my lesson. Tom Daschle did, on further prodding from Mark Barnett, decide to fight for the interests of his constituents. However, the central contention of this post still stands. Tom Daschle should recuse himself from any decisions on airline bailouts, because a real conflict of interest exists due to the fact that his wife is a lobbyist for the airline industry.

posted by Jason | 10:16 PM

Donald Lambro of the Washington Times reports on the leadership vacuum in the Democratic party:

Democratic strategist Donna Brazile said yesterday that there was increasing concern within the party about the lack of a strong message from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle on the war in Iraq and national-security issues.
"I don't see Daschle and Pelosi reaching out beyond the Beltway. There's a vacuum in the party on this. They are perceived as the leaders of the party. People are looking to them for leadership," Miss Brazile said.
"People don't know what to say half the time about the war. They do not hear a clear message. The activists are being left to formulate their own position without much guidance from the national party."

posted by Jason | 9:44 PM

A Midland, Michigan newspaper columnist weighs in on Tom Daschle's hypocrisy.

posted by Jason | 10:48 AM

Here's a piece on Patrick Davis, a South Dakota native and now political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Excerpt:

"Things are gearing up" for the 2004 election cycle, Davis said. "It never stops. We're always looking toward the next election."

His office is working to recruit Republican Senate candidates for every state.

"We are in the initial stages in many places," he said. "Given the world situation, like everything else, it has slowed down. The focus is on Iraq, not on politics and that's where it should be."

South Dakota was one of the key states in the 2002 Senate races and will definitely be even more closely scrutinized next year with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's re-election bid.

posted by Jason | 9:20 AM

An Arizona observer notices that Tom Daschle has a slight credibility gap.

posted by Jason | 7:56 AM

Monday, March 24, 2003  

It's beginning to appear that Tom Daschle has created a split among Democrats with his intemperate comments.

posted by Jason | 12:36 PM

Sunday, March 23, 2003  

Bob Novak has a delightfully alliterative title to his latest piece: Dems Dodging Daschle.

posted by Jason | 11:59 PM

I almost forgot to read Dave Kranz's Sunday column today, in which he trots out Tom Daschle's excuses for his inexcusable comments.

posted by Jason | 11:14 PM

South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long gets quoted in today's Washington Post.

posted by Jason | 12:15 PM

I've added The Command Post to my list of blogs. Click on it for up-to-the-minute news and perspective on the war. It's good stuff.

posted by Jason | 12:05 PM

Grutter v. Bollinger, the Michigan affirmative action case that will be argued before the Supreme Court on April 1, has, as my Constitutional Rights professor likes to say, some local flavor. We've been discussing this case for eight straight weeks in class, and I don't care if I ever hear of it again.

posted by Jason | 11:05 AM

What was that thing about the unexamined life not being worth living? Randell Beck, editor-in-chief of the Argus Leader, finally examines his life and finds he may, in fact, be the most reviled man in Sioux Falls.

posted by Jason | 10:54 AM
Ungarnered Praise
Talon News Series on Argus Leader Bias