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, July 19, 2003  

NADER PRESSURES DASCHLE: While I seldom agree with Ralph Nader on much of anything, I think he's right on the money with this letter asking Tom Daschle to publish his personal voting record on his personal Senate website. The reason Daschle won't do it is because it will make it easier to debunk his statement that he votes with President Bush 75% of the time.

posted by Jason | 1:25 PM

DASCHLE IN THE LEAD: Denise Ross of the Rapid City Journal reports that a Republican poll has Tom Daschle leading prospective opponent John Thune: GOP poll puts Daschle over Thune by 6.

posted by Jason | 1:06 PM

INDIAN TRUST FUND UPDATE: The Washington Post reports that the DC Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the district court's contempt order against Interior Secretary Gale Norton. And of course, Tom Daschle doesn't miss an opportunity to pander to the Native American community. For more, read this piece from the Los Angeles Times. The New York Times also reports this story.

posted by Jason | 12:48 PM

POINT AND LAUGH: The Argus Leader has a story today on the recent re-election machinations of Sioux County Sheriff Jim Schwiesow for the 2004 election. Talk about early campaigning! Sioux County is in Iowa, just across the Big Sioux River from Hudson, SD. You may recall that Schwiesow received national attention for his clownish behavior regarding the Y2K "crisis." For more details click here.

posted by Jason | 12:05 PM

Friday, July 18, 2003  

Dan Pfeiffer, Tom Daschle's communications secretary, takes on Neal Tapio.

posted by Jason | 1:01 PM

WHO IS NEAL TAPIO? Argus Leader executive editor Randell Beck asked this question in a recent editorial. Today the Aberdeen American News reports the answer.

posted by Jason | 12:53 PM

Thursday, July 17, 2003  

MAGNIFICENT: I just caught a rerun of Tony Blair's speech to a joint session of congress on C-Span, and for once, I can agree with a statement Tom Daschle made, as quoted in this story:

As Blair stepped down into the well of the chamber after the speech, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota gripped his hand: "That was beautiful," he said.

posted by Jason | 11:28 PM

Wednesday, July 16, 2003  

DASCHLE MISINFORMATION: Byron York's column in today's edition of The Hill easily punctures Tom Daschle's claim that 119 of 121 of Bush's judicial nominees have been confirmed:

For two years now, [Michigan Democratic Sen. Carl] Levin, along with fellow Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow, have quietly obstructed the Bush nominees, all from Michigan, to the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Both senators returned negative “blue slips” for the nominees, indicating they would not allow the nominations to go forward. As a result, the Michigan Four have received no hearings, no votes, no nothing....

Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) has said that the two Bush nominees facing filibuster in the full Senate, Estrada and Owen, are the only two who have been stopped by Democrats.

“Since this administration has come to office, they’ve had 121 judicial nominations that have been considered,” Daschle told reporters last April. “And all but two, 119, have been confirmed. Two have not.”

The statement was self-evidently false — the Michigan Four prove that by themselves. But it also obscured the fact that in their time in power, Democrats confirmed just 17 of the 32 people Bush nominated to the federal courts of appeals.

And even that is glossing things over a bit. Two of those 17 were Clinton nominees whom Bush nominated as a gesture of goodwill. Two others were confirmed in last-minute action after Democrats lost control of the Senate.

Altogether, it’s a dismal record, unprecedented for the first two years of a president’s term. And it is a far, far cry from Daschle’s claims.

Once again, Daschle misleads the people with easily digestible chunks of misinformation.

posted by Jason | 6:30 PM

100 NEW JOBS IN SD: From the Sioux City Journal: South Dakota project may reduce, delay plans by Trans Ova. Excerpt:

Among the tenants Trans Ova hoped to attract to the pilot purification center was its research partner Hematech. The Connecticut-based company, which is working to turn animal proteins into valuable human pharmaceuticals, opened a lab in Sioux Falls to be closer to Trans Ova. On Monday, Hematech announced plans to expand its biotech campus in Sioux Falls and build a pilot purification center. The expansion also includes establishing animal production farms around the state. Half of the $15 million project, expected to create up to 100 new jobs, will be financed with a state economic development package announced Monday by Gov. Mike Rounds.

Hematech officials said Monday they were attracted to South Dakota by the incentives, the state's favorable tax climate and its higher education system.

posted by Jason | 6:16 PM

CHANGING THE TONE: In a profile by Insight of former presidential speechwriter David Frum and his wife Danielle Crittenden, Frum discussed Tom Daschle's relationship with President Bush:

[Bush's] great aspiration has been to be like Eisenhower, a president who is somehow above the party system. That certainly was the Bush intention in the beginning of his presidency. So I find the reaction to him on the part of many Democrats baffling. It would be hard to imagine a president in recent times who has gone further out of his way to be the president of all the people. Bush had hoped that he and Tom Daschle [D-S.D.], the Senate minority leader] would have the kind of relationship President Harry Truman and Sen. Arthur Vandenberg [R-Mich.] had.

Vandenberg was a very conservative Republican on domestic issues and fought Truman tooth and nail over things like wage-and-price controls, steel nationalization, the national health-insurance program Truman wanted. On everything domestically, they fought. But on the foreign program, Vandenberg supported Truman because of the national emergency. I don't think Bush was surprised that Daschle fought him on the tax issues, spending, a national health-insurance program. What surprised him was that, as early as the spring of 2002, Daschle actually tried to put an end to the weekly presidential meetings with the four congressional leaders.

Daschle found those meetings intolerable. He did not want to be informed and consulted and included because he would then have to share responsibility. I think that sort of partisanship is tragic. I think Bush created a real opportunity to do foreign policy differently from the unhappy way we did it earlier.

posted by Jason | 12:57 PM

POLITICIZING THE WAR: The Washington Post reports on Tom Daschle's latest efforts to politicize the Iraq war in regard to the president's supposed lie about Saddam shopping for uranium in Africa: Democrats Sharpen Attack on Bush Over Iraq. Excerpt:

Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.), who supported the war resolution, told reporters: "We shouldn't minimize this; it shouldn't be buried; it shouldn't be left to the confusion that is now so much in evidence. I think that the administration needs to be forthcoming and provide the best information they can about how all of this happened."

On September 25, 2002 Daschle, in his "That is outrageous -- outrageous!" speech on the Senate floor, stated:

[I]ncreasingly, over the course of the last several weeks, reports have surfaced which have led me to believe that indeed there are those who would politicize this war....

We ought not politicize this war. We ought not politicize the rhetoric about war and life and death.

Read the memo on Daschle's politicization of the war at the blog Horologium (via Instapundit). Then read Glenn Reynolds' excellent summation of Democratic politicization of the war, and make sure to follow all of the links.

posted by Jason | 12:26 AM

Tuesday, July 15, 2003  

RUNNING SCARED: The Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill offers a report on Tom Daschle's ads: Daschle Seeks to Repair Home-State Image With New TV Ad. Excerpt:

Political consultants said the ad reflected an effort to burnish Daschle's image, which the GOP has long sought to tear down.

"For Daschle to be out so early in a place like South Dakota, which just went through a really highly competitive Senate race, gives testimony that the negatives he's got are real," said John McLaughlin, a Republican pollster.

[Democratic political consultant Peter] Fenn added: "I've always felt the folks who run the best campaigns are the ones who always run scared."

Daschle's campaign said the ad did not stem from concern over the senator's ratings.

"I'm not saying it isn't a campaign ad," said campaign manager Steve Hildebrand. "It is a campaign ad. But we wouldn't ever have had to conduct a poll to know why we're going on TV with this particular ad."

The ad was placed in the Sioux Falls market because "it's...where the economy needs the most attention," he added.

Data collected by McLaughlin & Associates in South Dakota for the National Republican Senatorial Committee showed Daschle with a 56 percent favorable and 38 percent unfavorable among home state voters.

posted by Jason | 10:00 PM

"SOPRANOS-STYLE" POLITICS: Jeff Gannon unleashes a torrent of investigative reporting in a piece today: Critics: Daschle's Soft Image Masks Political Machine. Excerpt:

Other media outlets have been subjected to pressure from the Daschle campaign. Greg Belfrage, an outspoken radio talk show host for Sioux Falls KELO-AM has been called on the carpet several times for his "Daschle bashing."

On his website, Belfrage writes, "Intimidation and embarrassment seem to be SOP (Standing Operating Procedure) for Steve Hildebrand and some others in the Daschle campaign. I'll be counting the days to see how long it takes for Democrats to deliver a copy of this web page to my employer. It's happened before."

Hildebrand personally visited the station to make the Daschle campaign's demands clear.

posted by Jason | 1:00 PM

Monday, July 14, 2003  

DASCHLE MUST BE CRINGING: As though there aren't enough clowns in the Senate already, Jerry Springer has filed papers for a prospective Senate run in Ohio.

posted by Jason | 8:26 PM

BREAKING UP THE LOGJAM: Today's Yankton Press and Dakotan contains a piece from Orlando Sentinel columnist Kathleen Parker: Blogs Breaking Up The Logjam Of Journalism. At least one newspaper in South Dakota is not studiously ignoring the blogging phenomenon going on in this state. My regard for the Press and Dakotan just went up a notch.

posted by Jason | 8:07 PM

George McGovern, a man I respect but with whom I strongly disagree on the Iraq war, had a column in the Los Angeles Times yesterday.

posted by Jason | 7:59 PM

South Dakota native John Hinderaker at Power Line weighs in on the Daschle ad campaign:

[Daschle] is already running television ads, daily, on all of the local stations--a remarkable concession by a politician of Daschle's supposed stature that he faces a tough campaign, still more than a year away. The ads, as usual with Daschle, say nothing about his far-left voting record. Rather, they are a naked appeal to self-interest: they spotlight Daschle's role in preserving ethanol subsidies.

posted by Jason | 12:55 PM

Sunday, July 13, 2003  

KRANZ WATCH: David Kranz, the dean of South Dakota political reporters, is up to his usual stunts in his contribution to today's edition of the Argus Leader. Namely, cheerleading his college buddy Tom Daschle while gleefully skewering John Thune. In the very first paragraph of today's piece, he implies that Tom Daschle may again become majority leader:

One motivation for Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle to seek re-election to a fourth term is recognizing the possibility that Democrats could take control of the Senate again in 2004.

The notion that Daschle could again become majority leader is something no sober-minded political analyst or commentator (liberal or conservative) in the country would contend with a straight face. For a sampling of the commentary, click here for the liberal view, and here for the conservative view. But Kranz just brushes these reports off as something "on paper." I suppose Kranz gets points for partisan optimism. Oh, wait, Kranz is held out to be an unbiased observer, so it would be journalistically unethical to display his partisan optimism.

Kranz has also failed to report that Republicans are mobilizing in the event that Hillary Clinton becomes the Senate Democratic Leader, a clear signal that the likelihood of Tom Daschle being toppled from his post is not remote. Through the years, Kranz has closely chronicled Daschle's rise to his current position, as seen in a November 26, 1989 piece in which Kranz wrote:

The respect for Daschle's legislative ability became evident earlier this year when he was named chairman of the Democratic Senate Policy Committee. Now, because of some new ethics conflicts with his colleagues, there may be a new opportunity for him.

There is talk that the troubles of Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif., will cause his eventual ouster--either by the voters or by route of an Ethics Committee investigation.

If that is the case, look for Daschle to be a contender to move into Cranston's position as majority whip--the second most powerful position in the U.S. Senate.

Now that Daschle's position is being threatened, David Kranz is nowhere to be found to chronicle every single event. Kranz's cheerleading of Tom Daschle is not a new phenomenon. It's been going on for years, right up to his piece today in the Argus Leader.

And that's my analysis of Kranz's first paragraph. We haven't even gotten to Kranz's favorite part, namely skewering John Thune. The key excerpt from today's Kranz article:

Roll Call, a Washington, D.C., publication, reported last week that former Rep. John Thune recently was seen at a Dixie Chicks concert in that city.

Roll Call noted that the band has been accused of being unpatriotic since criticizing President Bush for his push for war with Iraq.

Lead singer Natalie Maines said earlier this year that she was "ashamed" that Bush is from her home state of Texas.

Nelson says Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn - the Washington, D.C., law firm Thune works with - purchased a box for the event.

"So John stopped by for the last 25 minutes to say 'hi' to some folks. He wasn't there for the whole concert," Nelson said.

In true David Kranz fashion, one has to take the long view in order to understand how blatantly biased he is. This cheerleading-Daschle/skewering-Thune method has been observed before. In a column on February 9, 2003, Kranz implied that Thune was lobbying for PhRMA in opposition to a prescription drug benefit in Medicare:

In addition to working out of his Sioux Falls office former, Rep. John Thune will do lobbying work as senior government affairs counselor with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn.

A recent Associated Press story said that firm represents the pharmaceutical industry trade group that fought against adding prescription drug benefit to Medicare.

I wrote extensively about the February 9th article in a post that day. In the paragraph following the Thune skewer, Kranz writes fawningly of Tom Daschle's book-writing efforts:

Daschle is working his way toward completion of his book, but that is taking a disappointing direction.

Unfortunately, he will only include events from 2000 until present time.

Daschle is a student of Senate history, and his role as minority and majority leader has come during critical times in the nation's history.

By narrowing the time-frame to 2000 and beyond, he is leaving out his time as minority leader when he was instrumental in that body's actions during the impeachment trial of President Clinton.

Historians will probably say that Daschle was one of the people most responsible for saving Clinton from being forced out of office. Details of that period from a person closely involved would be valuable for those who piece together the past.

In a November 5, 1989 opinion piece, Kranz reported on the recent release of a book by former Senator Jim Abourezk. In the piece, Kranz wrote, "While I long for federal legislation preventing congressmen from writing their memoirs, it is fortunate Abourezk got his book written before such a move takes place." Notably absent from Kranz's report on Daschle's authoring of a political memoir is Kranz's longing for a law restricting the speech of political figures.

In another 1989 Argus Leader opinion piece, published on November 26, Kranz exhibited his blatant pro-Daschle bias with a piece headlined "Daschle shows courage in voting for pay increase." The piece begins, "Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle may take some political heat for his "yes" vote on the Senate pay increase last week. But in reality, Daschle was the only lawmaker from South Dakota who demonstrated courage." But of course, Kranz's notion of what constitutes political courage is selective and partisan, as seen in a piece written earlier that year, on March 5, 1989. This piece, headlined "Pressler might pay for breaking ranks with colleagues" is, ironically, about Senator Pressler successfully offering an amendment to halt a 50 percent pay increase for members of congress, as well as breaking ranks with the Republicans and opposing John Tower's nomination to be secretary of defense. Kranz writes, "Those who support Pressler on the stands call him courageous. Those who challenge him call him suicidal." But Kranz never wrote about Tom Daschle being suicidal in voting for a congressional pay increase.

In conclusion, I believe that it is completely fair for David Kranz to report John Thune's minor gaffes to the South Dakota public. What is unfair, however, is that David Kranz rarely reports Tom Daschle's minor gaffes. As I have often stated, David Kranz knows that what is NOT reported is just as important as what IS reported. A prime example of Kranz ignoring a Daschle gaffe would be Tom Daschle's mix-up of the names of two African American reporters at a Senate press conference, which outraged the African American reporter, as reported in the New York Post (scroll down to the very last entry after you click here for the story). David Kranz has been cheerleading Tom Daschle for years, while at the same time skewering conservatives. It's acceptable for Kranz to do his cheerleading-Daschle/skewering-conservatives bit on the editorial page of the Argus Leader, as he did in the 1989 columns cited above. It is unacceptable for Kranz to do this in his position as the dean of South Dakota political reporters, when his reports are held out to be unbiased journalism. David Kranz has once again exhibited biased journalism, and it has to stop. Today's report by David Kranz should have appeared in the editorial pages of the Argus Leader.

posted by Jason | 2:56 AM
Ungarnered Praise
Talon News Series on Argus Leader Bias