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, November 29, 2003  

Jeff Gannon, resident DC expert on South Dakota politics, has a new piece up headlined "Liberal Group Blames Daschle for Democrats' Plight."

posted by Jason | 9:40 PM

DASCHLE BOOK SALES UPDATE: Tom Daschle will be on C-Span's Booknotes tomorrow night at 8 p.m. to discuss his book. Daschle's book sales are tanking quite badly. The current Amazon sales rank of Daschle's book is 8,925. Meanwhile, the Amazon sales rank of Senator Zell Miller's book is 30th, and is in its third week on the NYT bestseller list.

posted by Jason | 5:07 PM

Bob Novak reports today, in a piece headlined "Senate Democratic Plumbers," that national Republican strategists have grown more optimistic that John Thune will challenge Tom Daschle in 2004.

posted by Jason | 2:27 PM

UPDATE: The Yankton Press & Dakotan recently ran a quick poll (scroll down) regarding Tom Daschle's book, which must make Daschle quite unhappy, given his reliance on this form of measurement.

posted by Jason | 2:08 PM

Wednesday, November 26, 2003  

According to the Congressional Record, Tom Daschle's peroration during the prescription drug bill debate yesterday included the following statement:

"This bill is deeply flawed. There is a poll in this morning's South Dakota Rapid City Journal. The poll simply asked the question, Do you think the legislation the Senate is about to pass is adequate? Mr. President, 64.5 percent of those who responded said no, it is not adequate. Those of us who have been working on this legislation should not be surprised."

The thing is, no such poll appeared in yesterday's Rapid City Journal. Apparently, Tom Daschle believes he can get away with making things up during debate on the Senate floor. And he's probably right.

UPDATE: It turns out that there was a non-scientific online "poll" in the Monday edition of the RCJ. My apologies. I guess Tom Daschle has taken to relying on crap polls like this, where it would merely take the concerted effort of his 30 campaign staffers to achieve a desired outcome. How lame.

ANOTHER UPDATE: The more I think about Tom Daschle citing an online Quick Poll as an authoritative reflection of voter sentiment during debate on the floor of the United States Senate, the lamer I think it is. A high school debate judge wouldn't let a student get away with doing that.

posted by Jason | 7:50 AM

Tuesday, November 25, 2003 offers insight into Tom Daschle's failure to deliver on the ethanol mandate. Excerpt:

Depending on the final outcome of the omnibus energy bill debate, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) may confront negative election-year implications if the bill isn't eventually approved (there's a last-ditch effort underway to pass the measure) and if the Republicans field a top-level opponent in Daschle's re-election race in 2004, some observers note....

Why could Daschle face renewed scrutiny in South Dakota, if the energy bill isn't restored to passage? Because Daschle said he "reluctantly" supported the energy bill, and he did not actively work to pass the measure. Nor, as minority leader, did Daschle use his obvious leverage of his leadership post to defeat the Democrat-led filibuster -- even though six Republicans, five from New England, went along with the majority of Democrats who were against cloture. In fact, when Daschle made comments on the Senate floor on Friday morning, he said he understood the choice of those who were mounting the filibuster and respected them for it.

posted by Jason | 10:30 PM

Denise Ross has an interview of George Allen in today's edition of the Rapid City Journal, headlined "Virginia senator a player in S.D. politics." Excerpt quote from Senator Allen:

"There's all these filibusters. Certainly stop the filibuster on the energy bill, which means so much for our energy security, whether it's natural-gas production, clean coal technologies and, of course, what matters most to the people of South Dakota for their jobs, the ethanol provisions. For the minority leader, the Democrat leader, Sen. Daschle just to take a walk and not be able to get any more than a dozen Democrats who voted that way, no thanks to him. It is just such an abdication and total neglect of responsibility. In fact, Thursday night — the vote was Friday — Thursday night, he was in Virginia. And we always welcome people into Virginia. But he was doing a book signing in northern Virginia Thursday night when he should've been talking to Democrat senators, two of them from Wisconsin and a Democrat senator from Indiana, a Democrat senator from Illinois, a Democrat senator from Minnesota and other Democrat senators who should've voted to end this filibuster. We're going to have a vote on this once again, but it'll be thanks to Pete Domenici, thanks to Ted Stevens, thanks to Lisa Murkowski and especially thanks to Chuck Grassley, in the event we're able to get Democrat votes to switch over for it."

For more on how Tom Daschle failed to deliver for South Dakota on ethanol, and vigorously fought the prescription drug bill which contained provisions giving $25 billion to improve rural health care, see this piece from the Wall Street Journal.

posted by Jason | 10:06 PM

ED SCHULTZ WATCH: Ed Schultz, Senator Byron Dorgan's answer to Rush Limbaugh, has been updating his website on KFGO-AM in a sort of blog-like fashion. One of his more interesting posts discusses the launch of his new nationwide show in January, during which he will be in Iowa covering the caucuses.

Given my proximity to Sioux City, Iowa, I too will be wandering down for any events being held there by the seven candidates (Lieberman and Clark blew off Iowa) prior to the caucuses, and report back on this blog.

posted by Jason | 9:36 PM

Tom Daschle made the following quote today during a press conference on Medicare, which you can watch at C-Span's website.

"One of the papers in my state had a poll this morning asking if you think this bill is adequate. Sixty-four percent said no, it was not adequate. I think that reflects the sentiment in my entire state and in the country."

Does anybody know what poll he's talking about? I can't find it in any SD paper I've looked at.

posted by Jason | 2:34 PM

DASCHLE DOESN'T DELIVER: John Fund of the Wall Street Journal has a piece today in his Political Diary (subscription), headlined "Daschle Doesn't Deliver:"

Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle is certainly gearing up early for his re-election campaign in South Dakota next year. He has a new book out on his accomplishments during his stint as Majority Leader from 2001 to 2002. He has raised $6.5 million for his race, hired 30 staffers and run endless ads touting his clout back home.

But while his political operation is humming along nicely, his highly-partisan legislative strategy is not producing the advertised benefits for South Dakota -- and voters are beginning to notice.

His ads last summer claimed he was "on the brink" of delivering a huge subsidy for the state's ethanol industry, but last week he stood back while fellow Democrats filibustered the energy bill because it also contained provisions supported by the White House. Mr. Daschle even managed to be away at a book signing when the legislation was on the
floor last Thursday -- rather than "working to win enough Democratic votes to pass the energy bill," as the Associated Press put it.

Senator Daschle also lined up with the most partisan Democrats to fight passage of this week's sweeping Medicare bill even though it included a huge funding increase for rural hospitals in his state. Mr. Daschle evidently took offense because he had been frozen out of a Republican-led conference committee that drafted the bill. He was annoyed, too, that President Bush might get most of the credit in voters' eyes for offering seniors a new prescription drug entitlement.

Capitol Hill insiders can understand Senator Daschle's bitterness over losing the power to set the Senate's agenda last year. Voters in South Dakota, however, may wonder if his personal disappointment is clouding his judgment when it comes to taking care of the state's interests.

South Dakota voters lean heavily toward the GOP in most elections, giving President Bush a 61% majority in 2000. But they keep sending Mr. Daschle back to the U.S. Senate because he promises to bring home more pork than his GOP opponents. When Senator Daschle doesn't -- or can't -- keep the trough full, voters begin to wonder what's the point of keeping him there. Polls show him running neck-and-neck against his most likely opponent, former Rep. John Thune.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Jeff Gannon, resident DC expert on South Dakota politics, has a piece today headlined "Daschle's Dems Derail Energy, Ethanol Until Next Year."

The Argus Leader carried Knight Ridder's version of the death of the energy bill on its front page today, but avoided posting it online. You can read the piece HERE. Nowhere in the piece can you find Tom Daschle's name. Last week, the AL had a front page, above-the-fold headline stating "Daschle lends clout to energy bill." But today, there's no mention of how the bill failed despite Tom Daschle "lending" his purported clout. Once again, we see how what IS reported is just as important as what is NOT reported. Clearly, the AL is just an arm of the Daschle campaign.

posted by Jason | 2:02 PM

The Medicare Reform bill passes, no thanks to Tom Daschle.

posted by Jason | 9:47 AM

Monday, November 24, 2003  

Tom Daschle sat down with the Christian Science Monitor recently. To read the full interview, click HERE. Excerpt:

"I am running because in spite of all the frustration and all of the work involved, I still very honored and gratified to have the opportunity I do.... I was hoping to be a political quarterback. I am mostly a defensive lineman these days. But I am still able to do good for others. There is a powerful level of satisfaction and fulfillment that comes from your ability to help others even if it is in smaller ways than you would like."

And, of course, the word "obstructionist" aptly describes a defensive lineman.

posted by Jason | 8:50 PM

Zell Miller was featured in a New York Times story yesterday headlined "Among G.O.P. Senators, a Favorite Democrat."

posted by Jason | 12:12 PM

Sunday, November 23, 2003  

WHERE'S THE CLOUT?: Time has a piece on Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, headlined "Bush's Cool Operator" that offers a glimpse into the purported "clout" of Tom Daschle:

Medicare could turn out to be his—and the President's—grand domestic prize going into the election. The proposal before Congress would reform the program in myriad ways, most notably by giving seniors their first prescription-drug benefit. Democrats, who also know that a Bush victory on prescription drugs would be politically devastating, are scrambling to stop the $400 billion measure....

If Democrats, for their part, seem apoplectic over Medicare, it's also because the Republicans have stolen the issue from them. And Frist, as much as any other Republican, is the one who helped take it away. He kept top Democrats like minority leader Tom Daschle from the conference that wrote the bill, not an unheard-of maneuver against a Senator of lesser rank but a brassy one to be pulling on the chamber's top Democrat. Instead Frist handpicked the Democratic Senators he would negotiate with: Louisiana's John Breaux, who worked with him on a Medicare-reform panel and who shares his views; and Montana's Max Baucus, who was just as eager to cut a deal.

Shut out of the room, a hapless Daschle tried to play an outside game—rallying seniors against the measure. But Frist outfoxed him. He began huddling privately with top aarp officials last December and held some 15 meetings with them over the next 11 months. Frist was dogged, tracking down aarp executive William Novelli at home or on the road to trade ideas by cell phone on reforming Medicare. "I don't think they were used to that," Frist told Time, noting that Republicans had traditionally seen the group as being too close to Democrats. "But I made it clear I needed them." It worked. aarp—which boasts 35 million members—threw its weight behind the G.O.P overhaul.

What kind of clout does Tom Daschle have if he's kept from the conference that wrote the prescription drug bill? The same bill contains provisions that give $25 billion to rural health care improvement. How is Tom Daschle "delivering for South Dakota" when he so adamantly opposes a bill that helps rural hospitals?

posted by Jason | 9:20 PM

You can now read the transcript of Tom Daschle's appearance on "Meet the Press" this morning by clicking HERE.

posted by Jason | 6:13 PM

Mike Madden of the Argus Leader's "Washington Bureau" has a piece today about the state's economic condition, headlined "Real recovery? Doubt lingers in area, nation," that might as well have been written by the Democratic National Committee's propaganda machine.

Contrast Madden's article with one written over a week ago by Bob Mercer, a reporter who actually lives in South Dakota, headlined "South Dakota economy rebounding sooner than nation."

Notably absent from Madden's article is any quote from Jason Dilges, the state commissioner on finance and management, a person who would probably be in the best position to know what the state's economic condition is. Instead, Madden has quotes from the former spokesman of a senator from Massachusetts.

Bob Mercer's article, on the other hand, leads off with a quote from Dilges. So what is the condition of South Dakota's economy? I think Mercer provides a much more cogent, thoughtful, and relevant report on the subject than does Madden. Maybe the AL should consider hiring Mercer to do these kinds of reports. Then again, maybe the AL just has an agenda.

posted by Jason | 2:42 PM
Ungarnered Praise
Talon News Series on Argus Leader Bias