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, May 17, 2003  

Greg Belfrage has invited Tom Daschle to be a guest on Greg's afternoon radio show. Will Tom Daschle accept the invitation unconditionally? Or will Daschle do what he does with Bill O'Reilly, and rudely reject the invitation while making outrageous accusations?

posted by Jason | 10:28 AM

The Washington Post today offers a front page news analysis, commenting on the remarkable lack of criticism from the usual suspects on the failure to date to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Excerpt:

Few Democrats are challenging Bush on the forbidden weapons, preferring to put the war behind them and focus attention on the economy, health care and other domestic issues.

Before the war, for example, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused the administration of exaggerating Iraq's nuclear capabilities, while other Democrats questioned whether Bush and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell were overstating Hussein's chemical and biological stockpiles.

This week, Pelosi said it is "difficult to understand" why the weapons can't be found. Yet she did not seem concerned about whether any are found. "I am sort of agnostic on it; that is to say, maybe they are there," Pelosi said. "I salute the president for the goal of removing weapons of mass destruction."

Similarly, Senate Democratic Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), who on the eve of war accused Bush of failing "miserably" to win international backing, now talks of giving the president "great credit" for winning the war.

Why the reticence to remind Bush of the rationale for the war? Public opinion may be one reason.

According to a May 1 Gallup poll for CNN and USA Today, 79 percent of Americans said the war with Iraq was justified even without conclusive evidence of the illegal weapons, while 19 percent said discoveries of the weapons were needed to justify the war. An April Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 72 percent supported the war even without a finding of chemical or biological weapons. Similarly, a CBS News poll found that 60 percent said the war was worth the blood and other costs even if weapons are never found.

posted by Jason | 9:55 AM

Friday, May 16, 2003  

Sheesh. I don't know how we missed the following from the National Journal's Hotline on May 3, nearly two weeks ago:

New York Post's Orin reports, Daschle is gearing up for his '04 reelection bid by conducting focus groups of rural SD voters and testing their reaction to a video clip of Daschle "attacking Bush" on the eve of war. Members of the focus groups were paid, shown the video clip, and asked "a lot" of questions about Daschle and Thune. Participants were told the focus groups were conducted by "Sun Surveys," but The Post confirmed the hotel room, where the focus groups were held, was rented by Greenberg Research, a Dem polling firm on Daschle's payroll. Daschle manager Steve Hildebrand refused to discuss the focus groups or confirm or deny they were done. He said Greenberg Research is "working for Daschle," but has other SD clients.
Daschle has made an "about-face" regarding the commander-in-chief's handling of the conflict in Iraq. The Dem leader "bitterly accused" Pres. Bush of "failing miserably" in Iraq just before the war, but now says Bush "deserves great credit" as a war leader. The turn around comes after polls in the "Bush-loving state" show him a "few points" behind Thune. Other polls have "consistently" shown Bush is more popular than Daschle with SD voters, and Daschle is aware that his state has a "very high percentage" of people with military service (5/3).

posted by Jason | 11:37 PM

DECONSTRUCTING KRANZ II: A reader has provided some additional information on David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters. It turns out that Kranz attended South Dakota State University from 1964-1968, and Tom Daschle attended SDSU from 1965-1969, where both were active in Young Democrats. We know Daschle worked on George McGovern's presidential campaign in 1972 with Bill Clinton (who, by the way, is soon coming back to South Dakota to bail the state Democratic Party out of debt). However, one could easily overlook the following fact: George McGovern ran for re-election to the Senate in 1968. Did David Kranz and Tom Daschle work together on McGovern's 1968 Senate campaign? These would be important facts to know, when David Kranz is reporting on the events of the day as they concern Tom Daschle or those opposed to Tom Daschle's agenda. Again, if David Kranz did in fact work with Tom Daschle during McGovern's 1968 Senate campaign, it doesn't make him a bad person. It simply reflects on David Kranz's capacity to be an objective observer of the South Dakota political scene. It's time for full disclosure from the Argus Leader, in the interests of objective journalism.

CORRECTION: My sources tell me David Kranz MAY have been involved in Young Democrats while a student at SDSU in the 60's. It's not an absolute certainty that he was. If he was, that is something that should be disclosed. If he wasn't, I apologize for the mistake.

posted by Jason | 11:17 PM

Christopher Johnson of the Midwest Conservative Journal offers a warm welcome to SDP.

posted by Jason | 9:43 PM

The High Plains Observer adds its voice to the chorus of those wondering when David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, will report on Tom Daschle's polling and focus-grouping. HPO also adds an interesting comparison to the New York Times' Jayson Blair fiasco. Keep your eye on this blog. In fact, add it to your bookmarks if you haven't already.

posted by Jason | 10:48 AM

KRANZ WATCH: Tom Daschle's massive polling and focus-grouping effort in South Dakota almost two weeks ago gets reported obliquely by Howard Kurtz today, which is more than what can be said for David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, who hasn't reported it at all. Excerpt from the Washington Post piece:

We love this New York Post piece just for the thumb-in-your-eye response. Columnist Deborah Orin writes about "Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who sounds like a Jesse Helms on Iraq these days as he tries to counter backlash from his prewar claim that America was 'forced to war' because Bush 'failed so miserably at diplomacy.'

"First, Daschle consultant Stan Greenberg did focus groups to assess the damage from that antiwar crack in a very pro-Bush state. Now, South Dakota sources report, Daschle consultants are polling to test ways he could mollify angry pro-Bush voters. . . .

"Asked for comment, Daschle campaign manager Steve Hildebrand said: 'I would not confirm strategy with the New York Post. Your readership in South Dakota is insignificant to Tom Daschle's re-election's campaign.'"

Today is Day 13 of the countdown for David Kranz to report on Tom Daschle's focus-grouping effort, which has been reported in the New York Post, the Washington Post, and by the ABC News Political Unit. Yes, I think it's fair to say that David Kranz is deliberately ignoring this story.

posted by Jason | 10:21 AM

"Vegas bookmakers say there's virtually NO chance you'll read about the Daschle polling from Argus Leader Political Reporter David Kranz." That's Belfrage's assessment.

posted by Jason | 12:02 AM

Thursday, May 15, 2003  

DECONSTRUCTING KRANZ: Since the ABC News Political Unit has joined the chorus of voices wondering when David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, will report on Tom Daschle's focus-grouping and polling activities, we at SDP have decided to launch another prototype of our "Deconstructing Kranz" feature currently under development.

We're curious about what political reporting experience David Kranz has had. At the bottom of every one of his columns it states: "David Kranz has covered South Dakota politics for 30 years." Many people would be interested to know where precisely he has worked for the last 30 years, aside from his present post at the Argus Leader. Thirty years ago puts us at 1973, the year after George McGovern was soundly beaten in the presidential election by Richard Nixon.

Many people would like to know where David Kranz was during the McGovern campaign of 1972. As everyone knows,
Tom Daschle worked on that campaign. If David Kranz worked alongside Tom Daschle during the McGovern campaign, that would be an important fact to know when David Kranz does any reporting on Tom Daschle or on those opposed to Tom Daschle's agenda. In the present day, cable television network reporters, when reporting on stories concerning their parent corporations, make a disclosure during their report that the corporation is the parent company of the cable television network. Perhaps a better comparison would be George Stephanopoulos, the current anchor of ABC's This Week. Any politically savvy person knows that George worked for Bill Clinton, and digests George's reporting with that fact in mind. Likewise, David Kranz should make a similar disclosure that he worked alongside Tom Daschle on the McGovern campaign, if that is in fact the case.

It should be noted that having associated with Tom Daschle during a Democratic presidential campaign wouldn't make David Kranz a bad person. It would, however, reflect on his capacity to be an impartial observer of the South Dakota political scene. The problem is that David Kranz holds himself out to actually be an impartial observer. The fact that there have been so many occasions for us to wonder why David Kranz is so reluctant to report certain news that may be embarrassing or damaging to Tom Daschle provides evidence that David Kranz is unable to put aside his partisan leanings in his journalism. There are many unanswered questions about David Kranz, and ABC News is starting to take notice of the gaping omissions in David Kranz's journalism.

posted by Jason | 10:43 PM

Word on the street is that the website received 25,000 unique hits during the month of April. The website has been subject to a certain amount of controversy. Today, the site links to ABC's The Note, whose writers have initiated a "Kranz Watch" of their own regarding Deborah Orin's report in the New York Post today. It looks like Steve Hildebrand, Tom Daschle's campaign manager, can wave bye-bye to his claim that the New York Post's readership is insignificant to Tom Daschle's re-election campaign.

posted by Jason | 1:34 PM

KRANZ WATCH: Once again, New York Post reporter Deborah Orin reports some South Dakota political news that David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, refuses to report. Excerpt:

[T]om Daschle of South Dakota...sounds like a Jesse Helms on Iraq these days as he tries to counter backlash from his prewar claim that America was "forced to war" because Bush "failed so miserably at diplomacy."

First, Daschle consultant Stan Greenberg did focus groups to assess the damage from that antiwar crack in a very pro-Bush state. Now, South Dakota sources report, Daschle consultants are polling to test ways he could mollify angry pro-Bush voters.

Active Republican Jim Hubbard says a telephone pollster asked how he'd rate that Daschle crack (he gave it a zero) and then whether he'd feel better about Daschle if he knew he's from Aberdeen, S.D., and a good family man who travels the state.

A telling comment in Orin's story comes from Tom Daschle's campaign manager Steve Hildebrand:

"I would not confirm strategy with the New York Post. Your readership in South Dakota is insignificant to Tom Daschle's re-election's campaign."

I think this comment indicates that David Kranz will never report on Tom Daschle's focus-grouping and polling for the Argus Leader, and more alarmingly, indicates that David Kranz and Steve Hildebrand are working together to squelch the story, preventing the average South Dakotan from ever even hearing about it. Nice work guys. It's great having the dean of South Dakota political reporters working for the Daschle campaign. Oh, I almost forgot. Today is Day 12 of the countdown for David Kranz to report on Tom Daschle's focus grouping. The fact that we are at Day 12 is also evidence that David Kranz is working hand-in-hand with the Daschle campaign.

UPDATE: The writers of ABC's The Note are watching David Kranz too, waiting for his report on the New York Post story:

When The Note drove by a certain Des Moines Chinese buffet last night, our thoughts turned, quite naturally, to Steve Hildebrand (who famously dined there) and Deborah Orin (who once covered an Elizabeth Dole event right near by).

So imagine our surprise when we opened our New York Post today and found Orin mocking Democrats for what she considers ill-placed attacks on President Bush given the American public's support of the war.

Orin singles out Senator Bob Graham's recent comments and digs into Tom Daschle's damage control, eliciting this brittle remark:

"Asked for comment, Daschle campaign manager Steve Hildebrand said: 'I would not confirm strategy with the New York Post . Your readership in South Dakota is insignificant to Tom Daschle's re-election's campaign.'"

We can't wait for Kranz to write about this!!!

Guys, I think you'll be waiting awhile.

posted by Jason | 11:06 AM

Wednesday, May 14, 2003  

Former speaker Newt Gingrich was in Sioux Falls last night, and David Kranz today compares Newt with Tom Daschle. Characteristically, Kranz forgot to mention a recent story in Time magazine reporting that Tom Daschle's national unfavorability ratings had reached the high 30s--"Newt territory."

posted by Jason | 12:07 PM

Lloyd Grove of the Washington Post reports that after Bill Gates and Tom Brokaw guzzled some $3 cappuccinos at the Past Times Cafe in Watertown, they left without paying, let alone tipping.

The original story was reported in a British technology journal.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker at Power Line shares his perspective of the event.

posted by Jason | 11:44 AM

The Washington Post's editorial board excoriates Tom Daschle for his hypocrisy inconsistent statements and behavior on campaign finance reform:

[I]t's a lot easier to preach than to practice. As the Senate prepared to vote on the campaign finance law last year, Mr. Daschle noted that "there are those who are already looking for ways to work around this bill." What he failed to say was that he and his colleagues would soon take their place among them.

Hey! David Kranz! Make a note to yourself not to report this story to the South Dakota citizens you have a responsibility to inform. After all, we all know what foaming-at-the mouth, right-wing crazies the Washington Post editorial board is comprised of. And what a knuckle-dragging, right-wing Neanderthal Mark Shields is. Obviously they're all just a bunch of right-wingers pushing an agenda. Hell, I'll bet if you looked hard enough, you'd find a connection to Paul Erickson. No need to report this story. Carry on.

posted by Jason | 1:20 AM

Tuesday, May 13, 2003  

The Democratic totalitarian streak is shining brightly lately. I've never understood why they're called "liberals." They want to control your life right down to what kind of car you drive, and now they're trying to suppress the freedom of speech under the auspices of the new campaign finance law. The Club for Growth is running ads in South Dakota, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is requesting the FEC to pull the ads. As the article linked above states:

The commercials in question draw a parallel between income-tax reductions passed during the Kennedy and Reagan administrations with Bush's proposal. They end with: "Tell Tom Daschle to support the Kennedy-Reagan-Bush tax policy that will bring jobs back to South Dakota."

"If we can't say that, then what can you say?" [Club for Growth executive director David] Keating said. "This is a genuine issue ad."

The campaign finance law is a bad, bad law. As was feared from the beginning, it is being used to suppress political speech, the very kind of speech the First Amendment was designed to protect. If one can't run ads critical of politicians, then we are on the road to living in a totalitarian society, and it frightens me, and frankly, it pisses me off. You don't have to agree with the Club for Growth, but when their point of view is not allowed to be expressed, when their fundamental right of free speech is prohibited by the government, the founding fathers and other liberals of the Enlightenment will be spinning in their graves. I'm outraged by the actions of all the politicians, Democratic and Republican, legislative and executive, who have allowed this charade of campaign finance reform to continue for so long. Cynically passing and signing this bill into law in the hopes that the courts will exercise their babysitting function and strike it down as unconstitutional is not the way our system should work.

posted by Jason | 11:40 PM

KRANZ WATCH: David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, has yet to report on Tom Daschle's focus-grouping activities in Huron, or on this story reporting Tom Daschle's questionable campaign finance activities. Today was Day 10 of the countdown.

posted by Jason | 9:08 PM

The Center for Individual Freedom ran an ad in the Washington Times today excoriating Tom Daschle for his conflicting positions on judicial nominations.

posted by Jason | 9:00 PM

According to today's Roll Call, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is now changing her tune after encountering some criticism about raising soft money in a roundabout way, i.e., circumventing the new campaign finance law that the Democrats have been so sanctimonious about as they worked to actually get it passed into law. For now at least, the House Democrats won't be trying to circumvent the campaign finance law by raising soft money. But what about SENATE Democrats? It seems it takes a little longer for Tom Daschle to get shamed into complying with a law he was so sanctimonious about passing:

Pelosi said she's had discussions with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) about the possibility of forgoing soft-money contributions, though the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has refrained from comment on the district court ruling.

Daschle spokesman Jay Carson said Senate Democrats are operating under BCRA and are hoping for a stay in the case. But he declined to speculate what Senate Democrats will do if the stay is rejected.

And of course, you'll never hear a word of this story from David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters. You'll just have to rely on SDP, your alternative to David Kranz.

posted by Jason | 10:04 AM

David Kranz reports on the latest development in the voter fraud investigation. Last year, Maka Duta, a/k/a Becky Red Earth-Villeda, filed a lawsuit against the attorney general, claiming that she was "the lowest rung on the ladder." Of course, David Kranz omits this important fact in his story today.

posted by Jason | 9:36 AM

David Kranz did a cut-and-paste job with this press release from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Will David Kranz do a cut-and-paste job with this press release from the Republican National Committee? You know, all in the interests of equal time and balanced reporting and all that. Hah.

posted by Jason | 9:21 AM

Monday, May 12, 2003  

Even Mark Shields is appalled by the cynicism of Tom Daschle and the Democratic Party when it comes to questionable campaign financing tactics:

[J]ust five days after a U.S. district court decision upheld major portions of the McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), including a ban on federal officeholders directly or indirectly raising soft money, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, along with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Senate minority Whip Harry Reid of Nevada, were the main draws at two separate money events.

A main purpose of the evening was to inaugurate two new organizations that legally would not be creations of the Democratic Party, but the growth of which would clearly be of great personal interest to the party's leaders.

It's an open secret that while the two new "unofficial" groups are now raising only "hard money" -- which can be legally spent in House and Senate campaigns -- later both the New House PAC and the Democratic Senate Majority Fund will be seeking to raise "soft money" in six-figure chunks for the 2004 campaign.

Thus with a cynical wink and nod, Democratic Party leaders rush to squander the moral capital their party in Congress earned by providing the vast majority of the votes needed to pass BCRA. The reformers and many observers all agreed on a central truth: Campaign contributions from a single source of hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars are not healthy for democracy. The explosion of soft money has further fueled the cynicism of voters that Big Money rules in Washington, that ordinary people have no clout and do not count.

Recall that Tom Daschle sent an e-mail to his supporters some weeks ago urging them to write letters to the editor defending his intemperate comments regarding the Iraq war. Attached to that e-mail he sent this column by Mark Shields, to use as a basis for writing letters to the editor. Somehow, I don't think Tom Daschle will be sending the current Mark Shields piece to his supporters as a basis for writing letters to the editor.

UPDATE: Here is the e-mail Tom Daschle sent to his supporters.

posted by Jason | 8:59 PM

Check out Real Clear Politics for some play-by-play analysis of a few of Tom Daschle's comments yesterday on Tim Russert's Meet the Press. (Via SDP reader Cory Skluzak).

posted by Jason | 7:55 PM

George McGovern finally gets an opinion piece published by the Washington Post. Recall that he was complaining in a piece he wrote in The Nation magazine that the Washington Post wouldn't print his opinion pieces about the war. Today's Washington Post piece is another prime example of the fact that George McGovern hasn't had a new thought since 1972.

posted by Jason | 10:35 AM

Sunday, May 11, 2003  

KRANZ WATCH: Today is Day 8 of the countdown for David Kranz, dean of South Dakota political reporters, to report on Tom Daschle's focus-grouping in Huron over a week ago.

posted by Jason | 9:17 PM

Check out the transcript from this morning's edition of "Meet the Press," on which Tom Daschle was a guest. It's a rich source of Tom Daschle quotes ripe for fact-checking and other fun. My favorite Daschle Dodge™ was about as graceful as two left feet:

MR. RUSSERT: Should it be investigated?
SEN. DASCHLE: I can’t comment on what specific motivation the president might have had, but let’s let the investigation take its course.
MR. RUSSERT: Should it be investigated?
SEN. DASCHLE: Well, it is being investigated.
MR. RUSSERT: Should it be?
SEN. DASCHLE: Well, as I said, it is.

This dodge wasn't even artful. I'm so disappointed.

CLARIFICATION: The context of this Daschle Dodge™ was that Senator Robert Byrd is clamoring for an investigation of President Bush landing on an aircraft carrier to make a speech about the victory in Iraq. As one SDP reader notes, the obvious parallel to the carrier speech is Lincoln's address at Gettysburg. I hasten to add that I'm not comparing Bush to Lincoln, I'm only comparing historical contexts. Lincoln made the Gettysburg address at one level to remind America that the war wasn't over, even though a major battlefield victory had just been accomplished. If Senator Byrd had been around in Lincoln's day, he would have called for an investigation of Lincoln's train ride to Gettysburg. Should Lincoln have been investigated for taking the train to the battlefield to make a speech? The answer is obvious.

UPDATE: As I think about the carrier speech and its parallel to the Gettysburg speech, it becomes even more fitting that the speech was made on the USS Abraham Lincoln. Karl Rove is brilliant. But we already knew that.

posted by Jason | 8:30 PM

Ostensibly, Tom Daschle made the following comment with a straight face to Aberdeen American News reporter Scot Waltman:

[I]t's no surprise some groups are trying to skirt the new campaign finance law, but [I am] disappointed such efforts have started so long before the election.

Right. Tom Daschle is so disappointed about groups skirting the new campaign finance law so long before the election that he's doing it himself:

Democrats...are kicking off a roundabout way of helping to finance their 2004 congressional campaigns with the very type of unlimited donations from corporations, unions and individuals that many party leaders had vowed to flush from the political system....

Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) week [is] scheduled to headline a hard money fundraiser at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington for the Democratic Senate Majority Fund. The new group bills itself in literature to donors as a legal way to funnel soft money through a "critical, and indeed, unique" venture to elect Democrats to the Senate.

[W]inning the imprimatur of Daschle, Reid and other top party members is vital to the group, which intends to operate as the all-but-official stand-in for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which for years was permitted to raise and spend soft money.

Tom Daschle must really be disappointed (but unsurprised) that he's giving his imprimatur to a group called the Democratic Senate Majority Fund, a group used as a roundabout way to get the very type of unlimited donations from corporations, unions and individuals that the new campaign finance laws prohibit. Since we're all talking about what we're disappointed in, I'm disappointed in the South Dakota press corps, who don't have enough gonads to press Tom Daschle when he utters something so completely disingenuous.

posted by Jason | 10:09 AM

For all of you readers wondering who is announcing an exploratory committee for a US Senate run against Tom Daschle, it can now be reported that the person is Sioux Falls businessman Neal Tapio.

posted by Jason | 12:00 AM
Ungarnered Praise
Talon News Series on Argus Leader Bias