Archive for September 2010

Gallup Pre-Announces a Double-Digit Lead for Republicans

Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 10:02 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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One of the odd features of contemporary politics is the “pre-announcement”.  It is rare these days to hear a major political speech or an announcement by the Administration or Congress without having a pretty good idea in advance what he or she or they are going to say.  The Press is usually informed in advance.

There are a couple of reasons for this.  One is that the government relies on the press to communicate its message in packages, and offering those packages in advance makes them more newsworthy.  Another is that it gives the speaker/announcer a little time to pull out if there is an adverse reaction.

Today, for the first time, I noticed what looks like a pre-announcement of a poll.  Sean Trende at Real Clear Politics offers us a preview of the up-coming Gallup poll.  Lately, Gallup has been offering the Democrats hope.  The most recent Gallup polls on the generic question have shown a tie, with Democrats and Republicans at 46% each.  The poll takes a large sample (3000 voters), but it doesn’t attempt to distinguish likely voters.  As the president of Gallup says in his characteristically cautious video clip, Republicans usually do a lot better than registered voter samples indicate.

By this time in the election year, Gallup has usually switched to a likely voter model.  For some reason, they have been tardy.  Next week they will switch, and Trende gives us a preview.

Preliminary modeling of the likely electorate using Gallup’s traditional likely voter questions (more on this next week) suggests that if current patterns persist, Republicans could have a double-digit lead in the national House vote on Election Day, which would translate into Republicans gaining well above the number of seats necessary to control the House.

The above paragraph is in a quote box in Trende’s piece.  Presumably it comes from some Gallup report, though there is no link or citation.  I haven’t searched the Gallup site thoroughly, so it may be there somewhere.  Or, it maybe something that Trende got from Gallup that the rest of us don’t get yet.  If so, then Trende either disclosed confidential information, or they gave him leave to report it.  In the latter case, this is a pre-announcement.

What motive Gallup may have for preannouncing its coming poll, I can only guess.  Maybe they want to spare us a shock.  Trende considers what it might mean if Gallup is really about to show a double-digit lead for Republicans.

In 1994 the GOP won the national vote by 7 points and held 230 seats on election night.  In 2006 the Democrats won the national vote by 8 points and finished with 233 seats.  And in 2008, the Democrats won the national vote by 10.5 points, and finished with 257 seats.  257 Republican seats would translate to a 78-seat pickup.

Trende is playing fast and loose with the numbers.  How many seats a national vote advantage produces will depend on the situation in each of 435 districts.  It is nonetheless an interesting bit of speculation.  A 78 seat gain would, I think, exceed any electoral event in the last century.

Meanwhile, poll analyst Stuart Rothenberg is warning the Democrats that their control of the Senate is really in jeopardy.  I don’t know what is going to happen.  I do think it my duty as a blogger to prepare my readers for a possible shock.

Opposition Rising to Keystone XL Threats to Land, Water, and Rights

Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 7:36 pm
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Our friends at Plains Justice put up some useful information on the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline:

  1. First, Plains Justice lists the chemical cocktail TransCanada wants to run under our farmland and across our aquifers. And TransCanada has the gall to say the risk is theirs, not the landowners’.
  2. Plains Justice also links to a new online documentary from the Center for Energy Matters. The video shows Oklahomans and Texans who are disgusted by tar sands, eminent domain, shady business, and TransCanada’s threat to clean water.
  3. If you’re on the Keystone XL route and TransCanada’s land agents are trying to push you around, Plains Justice points to a website that may help. has set up a hotline to take reports on TransCanada’s heavy-handed land-grab tactics and other abuses of landowner rights. Don’t let TransCanada give you the shaft: call at 1-866-363-4648 and stand up to foreign oil!

Too old to “suffer fools patiently”

Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 at 4:07 pm
By: Doug Wiken
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Too many years ago, when I edited a college newspaper and years later first posted any comments or posts in blogs or forums, I had some tolerance for fools and political hacks grinding the sledge side of an axe head. After writing blogs for years and commenting in forums and blogs, I have aged and lost most of that tolerance as well. Life is too short for
allowing tolerance of fools to give them any credibility whatsoever.

If a post or comment by these intellectual illiterates gets edited or dumped, they almost
always assume that it is an evil form of “censorship”. Well, no. It is mostly a matter of some
editorial judgment. Especially if the same inane comments keep turning up again and
again from anonymous or irrelevant screen names in dozens of forums. Here are a couple of examples that have been around since the Clinton Administration.

“I used to be a Democrat until …. (substitute some irrelevancy here)” Mostly the people
writing this line have never ever been Democrats. It is a standard irrelevant bit of
forum cant designed to imply that Democrats have become so horrible that they just
could not stay a Democrat, and wonder of wonders, decided to spam their lunacy or their
sources lunacy into every public forum. Somewhere there must be an instruction sheet or list of old and new wingnut talking points to aid those addicted to political mythology.

Then there is the, “I thought liberals were in favor of free speech, why are you not convinced
my logic and assertions don’t come directly from God on High.” This is a little bit of history
turned inside out since actual official censorship (The only real censorship) has most often been the habit of conservative groups, religions, or regimes. And incidentally, the Russians and the Nazis were not liberals, despite Newt Gingrich’s attempt to redefine liberalism as something evil.

Then there are the twisted logic comebacks that are something like this, “You are a coward for not publishing my great persuasive myths and assertions….as they hide behind anonymity like a little twerp delinquent hiding behind his mother’s skirts shooting spitwads and making faces.

Over those same years, it has become obvious to me that of perhaps about 200 anonymous comments or comments from non-informing screen names, only perhaps 1 or 2 might actually be on topic with relevant new information or intelligent commentary or criticism.

So, if your login name is not your actual name, or you use “anonymous” or its equivalent, include your actual name and city in the text of your comment or I will almost certainly delete it whether or not you support or oppose whatever my position or rant happens to be.

If you don’t like my limited tolerance for suffering fools patiently, start your own blog and fill it with your boilerplate cant, baseless assertions, and blockheaded ignorant mythology. Blogger is free. Go to it. Http:// . You may then soon appreciate the following.

Note Newquist’s post at Northern Valley Beacon discussing reasons for sensible deletion of
what he calls “illiterate” comments:

“1. They do not address the point or points made in the post.
2. They contain libelous statements.
3. They are abusive.
4. They are personally insulting.
5. They are not literate, show a lack of comprehension, or are otherwise incoherent.
6. They misrepresent statements in the post, comments, or other sources.”
[ And, let me add]
7. They are factually incorrect or assume their mere assertion is fact.

Give ‘Em Hell,

Posted: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm
By: Doug Wiken
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Obama is out stirring a bit.  He needs to stir more..and more to the point.  Harry Truman had a GOP congress filled with do-nothings and he ran against them and turned an election around.   We have had two years of wingnut loon right rewriting of history complete with distortion of terms, meaning, events, outcomes, history, science, motivation, etc.  The National GOP and co-conspirators have been aided and abetted by TEA Party trash attacks.   Truman also said something like, “I don’t really give them hell, I just tell the truth about them and they think it is hell.”

Time for Obama and all Democratic Congressional candidates to tell the truth about the GOP and send the No-No Obstructionists back to howling in the wilderness again.  Take a look at an article by Robert Kuttner for more historical detail and commentary.

Robert Kuttner– Give ‘Em Hell, Barry

Here is a small part of the article from American Prospect:

In September, Truman embarked on an extended version of his earlier two-week rail tour across America. This time, he would spend a total of 33 days and cover 21,928 miles. With each stop, his attacks on the Republicans grew more scathing, and his subject was nearly always the economy and the Republicans’ role as the party of obstruction and privilege. In Dexter, Iowa, he told a crowd of some 90,000 people, “I wonder how many times you have to be hit on the head before you find out who’s hitting you? … These Republican gluttons of privilege are cold men. They are cunning men. … They want a return of the Wall Street dictatorship. … I’m not asking you to vote for me. Vote for yourselves.”

Speaking in Denver, he told a crowd of 25,000 people in front of the state Capitol, “I’m not talking about the average Republican voter. … Individually, most Republicans are fine people. But there’s a big distinction between the individual Republican voter and the policies of the Republican Party. Something happens to Republican leaders when they get control of the government. … Republicans in Washington have a habit of becoming curiously deaf to the voice of the people. They have a hard time hearing what the ordinary people of the country are saying. But they have no trouble at all hearing what Wall Street is saying.”

***Stay Tuned but call up your Democratic candidates and Obama ..Let them  know you understand the stakes in the election and that it is literally time to give the obstructionist No-Noers  HELL..even if that is really just the facts unvarnished.— Doug Wiken

[[[[[ Note:  If you wish to comment on this post, include your name and city address with the correctness you would use for a tax form or a loan application; otherwise, I will delete your post pro or con as soon as I am able to.]]]]]]

It’s just the Roma in my soul

Posted: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 11:08 am
By: David Newquist
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NSU’s homecoming is called Gypsy Days,  When I first came to Northern to work, the administrators and some faculty used to dress up with the flowery shirts and sashes and embroidered vests on the Friday of homecoming, but the Gypsy motif has slipped away all but in name.  This year I was in the parade.  I got pressed into service to drive Ericka, the Junior Snow Queen, a lovely high school student from Groton, in a vintage Chrysler Le Baron Convertible that, like its driver of the day, has seen better days.  It was downright cold that day, but the switch for the heater was broken.  When Amy, the car’s owner, turned it over to me, she said there was a jug of water on the back floor in case the car over-heated.  I could not quite imagine stopping in middle of a parade to put the hood up and quench a hot engine.  The only problem I had with the car was that it would intermittently emit great clouds of smoke through the exhaust.  At times Ericka, perched on the trunk, had to fan away the smoke, but the women from Curves marching right behind were occasionally obscured and overcome. I heard mutterings that were not ladylike.

Sitting in the chill, the smoke, and feeling great empathy for Ericka who was wearing her sleeveless queen’s gown and shivering as she smiled and waved at the crowd,  I was obsessed with irony.  Here I was in the middle of the Gypsy Days parade and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had just expelled about 1,000 Gypsies from French soil.  Now the Gypsies think the word Gypsy is a pejorative, and prefer to be called Roma.  I was wondering if NSU would call its homecoming Roma Days next year.

Over my lifetime,  I have encountered Gypsies, or Roma, if you prefer, numerous times, but I find it hard to get a factual grasp of what comprises Gypsydom.  They inspire a kind of romantic sense of freedom and joy and they helped create flamenco music and dance, which is why they are revered at the NSU homecomings.  On the other hand, some people have said they pick pockets, kidnap babies, and do other things that ain’t couth in western culture.

My fondest memory of Gypsies came in regard to Sgt. Jody.  (That is not his real name, but it is close enough.)  Sgt. Jody was a young non-commissioned officer from the South who was  assigned to the launching platoon  of our missile battery in Germany.  We were never sure what function he was to serve, but he annoyed the hell out of the men because he insisted on marching them from the headquarters area to the launching area in formation and in cadence.  This was annoying because when the morning formation in the company street was dismissed, the men had all sorts of administrative tasks to attend in conjunction with maintaining the missiles.  Dismissal of the formation meant they would go to the orderly room, or the missile assembly and maintenance area, or the motor pool and pick up paper work and tools needed for what they had to do with the missiles that day.   They went about their business and just sort of sauntered down to the launching area with their materials.  Sgt. Jody thought this was very unsoldierly, so he marched them down, and then they had to walk back to the places they needed to go for their materials, and then saunter back down to the launchers when they had the necessary information and equipment.  Sgt. Jody was convinced that men sauntering around with clip boards, brief cases, and tool boxes in their hands were screwing off.   He was only half right,

The men harassed Sgt. Jody.  While marching, they would chant  under their breath “Jo-dee,  Jo-dee, Jo-dee” in time with the marching cadence just below the hearing threshold.  Sgt. Jody would yell “halt.” stop and listen,  and the chant would stop, then resume the march.  The men, of course, had no idea what he was talking about when he asked, “Who is saying that?”  He also revealed that he had witnessed ghosts, so the men were constantly plotting ways to give him spooky experiences.  I relate this to establish that Sgt. Jody was a bit flighty of mind.

Our missile site was at a remote military base on the Rhine River at a town called Germersheim.  To get to town from the post gate, there were two possibilities.  One could walk along the roads.  Or one could take a shortcut, a path that ran through some pine groves and ran along some vacant land.  That land was a place where Gypsy caravans camped at times.  When they were present, we looked at them with curiosity but kept to our business, which was with students at the women’s college and cognac at the gasthouses.

One night a group of us were returning to post via the short cut when someone checked his watch and said we were pushing the deadline.  Our off-duty passes automatically expired at midnight, when the gates were officially closed, and anyone trying to get on post after that would be taken into custody by the military police and held for disciplinary action.  We quickened our pace from a stroll to a jog to beat the deadline, and were jogging past the Gypsy encampment.  Ahead of us about a block, we saw Sgt. Jody walking.  He glanced back when he heard a bunch of men running and broke into a sprint.  We thought his running meant we must really be late, so we broke into a dead run.

When we got to the gate, an MP was standing outside the guard shack looking bewildered.  When we came up to the gate, he asked what was going on out there.  He said Sgt. Jody ran through the gate yelling that the Gypsies were after him.  When we got to the orderly room to sign in, Sgt. Jody was there trying to explain to the officer of the day that a bunch of Gypsies was chasing him and seemed about to attack the post.  We signed in and with suppressed snickers and chuckles went to our bunk rooms.

The next day those of who signed in from pass together were called in  to a meeting with the battery commander, the executive officer, and the first sergeant.  They asked what we knew about the events involving Sgt. Jody the previous night.  We explained how he took off running when we  came jogging up behind him.  The executive officer asked why we did not provide that information when we signed in, because Sgt. Jody’s account caused a joint investigation  by the Army and the local authorities, and some tense and confusing moments with the Gypsy camp.

We were given a talking to about harassing Sgt. Jody.  The executive officer explained that Jody had been raised with stories about ghosts and Gypsies taking babies and the like, and he had run to the orderly room to alert the guard mount that there seemed to be an attack. Our Platoon Sgt. Bradley summarized point of the meeting in his succinct way:   “Don’t f++k with Jody anymore.”

Sgt. Jody was a good soldier.  But Sgt. Bradley (who had been raised in an orphanage) explained that he came from very poor circumstances and was working hard to better his lot and make a career in the military.   “Don’t f++k with a good man you may have to depend on someday,” Sgt. Bradley said.

The harassment of Jody stopped, but we still told the story of Jody’s sprint and laughed.

My other encounters with Gypsies were not as funny, but were equally remote.  I  remember the caravans passing by our house when I was a small child.  Later when I worked in state parks, I came across them in campgrounds.  Their caravans at the parks consisted of Airstream trailers pulled by Cadillacs with Alabama plates on them. Of course, I knew that Gypsies were targeted victims of the Holocaust.  I am also aware that they have been the objects of suspicion, revilement, and persecution for centuries.  I have never understood exactly why.  They inspire some kind of ethnic animosity.

That’s what was on my mind during the Gypsy Day parade.  The French were deporting Gypsies from their land.  Other countries in Europe have proposed measures to stop the immigration of Gypsies into their lands.  Part of the problem is that jobs are scarce in Europe, too, and Gypsies appear to illegal immigrants in their minds.  They can’t find work, so they are accused of sopping up welfare money and instigating criminal activity.   But there we were on a chilly Saturday morning celebrating Gypsy Days while other places were condemning and expelling them,  much like we do the people who sneak across our Mexican border.

Across the world, there is a resurgence of conservative sentiments.  It is not the kind of conservatism that tries to restore the liberal principles of democracy; it is the kind of conservatism that fixes on dividing people into classes and wants the right for one class of people to suppress other classes.  In our own country, this has meant a revival of racist sentiment. Although there is much denial that the so-called tea party movement has racial objectives, the demonstrations and signage of the  movement have made racist expressions a prominent feature.  While there is not an overt racist agenda behind some of the conservative factions, it is difficult to escape the fact that appeals to racist attitudes are in part what is driving those factions.  To those of us who were sentient during the 1960s and 70s, the attitudes and arguments have a familiar ring.  We have our Mexican immigrants we’d like to drive from the land; the Europeans have their Gypsies.  And the  world has its Muslims.  The Muslim world has its infidels.  The world tries to provide everybody with someone to hate.  Status in the bourgeois mind is built  on how many people you can look down upon.

So, there I was in the Gypsy Day parade thinking about  Mexican illegals and mosques. About f**king with Sgt. Jody.  And just what America wants.  And what it will eventually get for itself.

Perhaps, the Gypsies who are not bound to a single country have the better idea.

Gypsies developed their own  breed of horses to pull their wagons.  They are revered for their endurance and their gentle temperament.  They are called Gypsy Vanners.  I never saw any in the Gypsy Day parade over the years.  I wonder if other horses tolerate them.

NRA 4 SHS — Noem Nets Nut Nod

Posted: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 7:54 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Here’s the endorsement the Noem campaign desperately tried to to distract you from yesterday: the National Rifle Association has endorsed Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in South Dakota’s U.S. House race.

“The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund supports Stephanie Herseth Sandlin because she has defended the Second Amendment freedoms of law-abiding gun owners, hunters and sportsmen in South Dakota and across America,” said NRA-PVF Chairman Chris W. Cox. “On November 2, I urge all South Dakota NRA Members and gun owners to vote Stephanie Herseth Sandlin for Congress” [Michael O’Brien, “Key House Dem Snags NRA’s Backing in Reelection Effort,”, 2010.09.28].

In a September 23 letter, the NRA’s Political Victory Fund informed Congresswoman Herseth Sandlin that the NRA was endorsing her and maintaining her “A” rating.

NRA-PVF endorses Herseth SandlinNRA endorsement of Herseth Sandlin, 2010.09.23. [click to enlarge]

The Noem camp responded by touting an endorsement from a gaggle of South Dakota gun owners for whom even the NRA isn’t nutty enough about guns. Her gun-owning endorsers include the likes of Second Amendment Sister Nancy First, who thinks we should let everyone carry guns in kindergartens, courthouses, and bars.

The Noem peanut gallery is desperately trying to spin the NRA’s endorsement of Herseth Sandlin as insignificant. Some commenters are crying that the NRA is required by its by-laws to endorse incumbents. Not true. While the NRA-PVF’s endorsement policy is “incumbent-friendly” (a logical position for an organization interested in maximizing leverage via seniority in Congress), the NRA is still free to withhold endorsements from incumbents it feels aren’t doing its bidding. For example, the NRA is not endorsing incumbent Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada. If the NRA thought Herseth Sandlin was bad for its interests, the NRA could easily send that message.

Now I don’t consider an NRA endorsement cause for celebration. Just a few weeks ago, I gave some poor telemarketer an earful for reading Wayne LaPierre’s scripted lies to me over the phone in a push poll (don’t these people keep track of past calls?). The NRA’s gun-worship distracts us from solving real problems. I look forward to the day when someone who gets an F from the NRA can win an election in South Dakota.

But I can also acknowledge the political climate for what it is and revel in watching conservatives now blaspheme their usual electoral God. Gun advocates, you may think Kristi Noem is your little Annie Oakley, but the great and powerful National Rifle Association recognizes that Democrat Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is the right choice for making sure no one comes to pry your guns out of your hands.

Extremist views, ill-considered publicity stunts, sinking poll numbers, failure to grasp practical policy… Kristi Noem is turning out to be nothing more than Bruce Whalen in cowgirl boots.

It’s all about Obama

Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 11:10 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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isaynoThere is a saying among political junkies that all politics is local.  That is the sort of conventional wisdom that is always true, until it isn’t.  It is abundantly clear that politics isn’t local anywhere, even where it is.

Local conditions in Delaware have very likely cost the Republicans a Senate seat.  But those local conditions would be otherwise were it not for the national phenomenon of the Tea Party movement.  If this were not a very unusual year, Mike Castle would be the Republican nominee.

Likewise, we can look at West Virginia, Mountain Momma.  Governor Joe Manchin figured he was engineering himself a U.S. Senate seat when he arranged for a special election this year to replace Robert Byrd.  He had every reason to think so.  He is a very popular figure in that uneven slice of real estate.  Yet he is now a few points behind John Raese in two recent polls.  It’s not something in the water flowing out of those pock marked hills.  It’s the wave rolling beneath these spacious skies.

Then there is Connecticut.  Democrat Richard Blumenthal ought to have a lock on the Senate race.  He has a 51/41 percent approval in a recent poll.  By contrast his opponent Linda McMahon (a World Federation of Wrestling Executive) has a 43/42 percent unfavorable rating.  Yet McMahon has pulled into a statistical tie (three points behind).  That means that the Democrats will have to funnel more money to Connecticut, instead of funneling Connecticut money elsewhere.  It also means, more importantly, that Republicans might actually bag that Senate seat.

In Washington State Democrat Patty Murray’s lead over Dino Rossi has evaporated.  Russ Feingold in Wisconsin finally dared to appear on stage with President Obama.  He might as well.  When you are seven points or more behind in three polls, you are liberated to try anything.

None of these Democrats would be in trouble if all politics were local.  In fact, this year is an unambiguous referendum on the last two years of Democratic rule.  The people look to be about to vote with their fingers.  If the Republicans take the House and take or come close to taking the Senate, that is a decisive rejection of Obama, Reid, and Pelosi.

The situation has been clear since January.  Marion Berry, who occupies the Arkansas House district where yours truly was born, decided not to run for reelection when he realized that Obama just didn’t get it.  He and other Democrats tried to get Obama to recognize that they might be facing another disaster, like 1994 when the Republicans captured control of both houses of Congress.  To no avail.

“They just don’t seem to give it any credibility at all,” Berry said. “They just kept telling us how good it was going to be. The president himself, when that was brought up in one group, said, ‘Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.’ We’re going to see how much difference that makes now.”

Well, yeah, now the Democrats have him.  In Arkansas District 1, which Berry gave up, Republican Rick Crawford is running sixteen points ahead.  For the first time in living memory, Arkansas’s House delegation will be dominated by Republicans.  Damned if Obama wasn’t right.  He has made a difference.

Bob Mercer Column D is for Democrats…

Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 4:11 pm
By: Doug Wiken
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Bob Mercer picks at the open sore that is the waffling, gutless Democratic Party and some Party candidates in South Dakota.

Bob Mercer Column — D is for Democrat

Mercer notes that Herseth-Sandlin barely mentions “Democrat” on her election web site and the Heidepriem seems to believe he is his own independent Democratic Party..always harping on the independent end of that.

Waffling South Dakota Democratic candidates just give added credibility to the addled Republican policies they should be able to shred like coleslaw cabbage.  Democratic Party at the National level and historically in South Dakota has a proud heritage of representing the general public with policies that ( unlike GOP for special interests) help the most people in South Dakota instead of only a few rich bankers and executives..

Building common sense into South Dakota politics requires that candidates and the Democratic Party boldly and logically present the correctness of most Democratic positions and programs and dissect Republican party positions which almost always are regressive benefits for the already obscenely rich which bleed treasuries and weaken state and nation..

Whether or not they know it, gutless Democratic candidates in any election make it that much harder for them and other Democrats to get elected in future South Dakota elections.  They are contributing positive feedback for a downward depressing cycle that appears to give credibility to failed GOP policies of the past and their other myths which will generate policy failures in the future.

Their gutless waffling also makes it increasingly hard for voting Democrats to do anything whatsoever beyond mere voting for them.  Contributing to them, passing out literature for them, knocking on doors, calling other voters, etc. is more than many of us can do for the spineless wafflers and wimps.

*** Stay tuned, but don’t wait for “Profiles in South Dakota Political Courage”.– Doug Wiken   

Don’t Hype the Ad: Hype Frankenfeld and Janklow for Heidepriem!

Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 7:28 am
By: Cory Allen Heidelberger
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Democratic candidate for South Dakota governor Scott Heidepriem has a new TV ad up. My one problem with this ad: it spends too much time pitching the next big ad, Heidepriem’s half-hour program coming up next week, and not enough time pitching the candidate. I’ve noticed that problem in a number of the communications from Team Heidepriem: they tell me their ads are historic and unprecedented and are getting great reviews. I really couldn’t give less of a hoot how good the ads are: we’re trying to win an election, not a Pollie. Heidepriem’s marketers seem to have overread or misread Marshall McLuhan and think that the man is the message is the medium.

Either that, or they’re just full of themselves.

That said, the new ad has the elements of an even better, truly rock’em-sock’em ad: apparent endorsements from former Republican legislator Don Frankenfeld and Republican attorney Russ Janklow.

Holy cow! Getting Frankenfeld and Janklow fils to endorse the Democratic candidate for governor is pretty strong cheese. Or at least I think they’re endorsing Heidepriem. They’re in the ad—they must like him… right?

This ad shows us Frankenfeld and Janklow telling us South Dakota has a huge fiscal problem. But only former Democratic Governor Harvey Wollman makes the sale, saying we need to “put in a new team.” But none of those guys says the magic word: Heidepriem, Heidepriem, Heidepriem.

If I had money for 30 seconds of TV time, and I had video of Don Frankenfeld and Russ Janklow saying good things about me, I’d fill that thirty seconds with every word I could from those big name endorsers. And I’d leave no doubt as to whom those guys were voting for. I’d make darn sure I included the tape of each of those heavy hitters saying my name and saying they’re voting for me.

I hope that’s what we’ll hear in next week’s half-hour extravanganza. Direct endorsements from such prominent Republicans really would be newsworthy.
p.s.: Take this blog post and even the headline as textual metaphor for the marketing argument. Imagine how much better (for Team Heidepriem) this post would be if it started off with the real news—Frankenfeld and Janklow Endorse Heidepriem! Instead, in an ad-centered world, the marketing analysis gets the lead, and the juicy stuff gets second billing.

Thune is a Go pt. 2

Posted: Monday, September 27, 2010 at 9:14 pm
By: Ken Blanchard
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thunemccain2Nobody is reading Steve Hayes’ piece on John Thune as anything other than an announcement.  Senator Thune is running for President.  Well, it’s only been a few days, but the Senator is already beginning to look a lot more interesting.

Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post’s The Fix informs us that Senator Thune is the Republican Barack Obama, except for being White and all.

Thune, obviously, would benefit if the party’s voters — and strategists — believed that the path to the presidency lay in nominating a candidate that mirrored Obama’s skill set: charismatic and handsome but with a fundamentally different approach to government’s role in peoples’ lives. (Thune allies note that he has a longer and deeper resume — three terms in the House, a full Senate term — than Obama did when he ran for president in 2008.)

Thune’s political style also resembles that of Obama — able to ride above the daily who’s up, who’s down to navigate a political course that has risen almost without hiccup since the 1990s.

This isn’t completely silly.  Yes, Thune is charismatic.  As for handsome, I confess I always thought the Senator looked a bit gaunt.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

As for the skill set and “style” thing, the stuff in parenthesis looks more important than the stuff outside and almost as important as the stuff that gets left out.  Barack Obama began running for President almost as soon as he left the Illinois state legislature.  Thune has not only served three terms in the House and one in the Senate, he also defeated the Senate Democratic Leader to get his Senate seat and has risen up the ranks of leadership in the upper house.  Compared to Thune, Obama had no resume.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Of course, Obama’s lack of any significant history, legislative or otherwise, was one of his main advantages.  The other was his race, which for historical reasons gave him a national wedge to use against Senator Clinton.  She of course had her own wedges: the Clinton co-presidency and her status as the first woman in serious contention for the White House.

I admire John Thune, and I like him.  I have had the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions and he has the remarkable ability not only to remember who I am but to remember what we talked about when last we met.  I find that astonishing.  I note happily that if you were stuck in an elevator with John, Tim Johnson, and Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, you would be among pleasant company.

Senator Thune is demonstrably a nationally ranked talent.  That said, I have yet to guess what his wedge is.  Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee have the most obvious one among Republicans: they are recent contenders.  Thune can present himself as an untarnished and fresh alternative.  In that case, he competes with Governor Tim Pawlenty.  If Sarah Palin turns out to be a serious contender (color me doubtful), he can offer himself as a genuine conservative with a chance at actually being elected.

Thune’s most likely route to serious contention would be as a running mate to some other candidate with a significant wedge, but perhaps some baggage.  The model would be Al Gore in 1992.  If Thune does make it onto a national ticket, in either position, he stands a serious chance of being President.

As I said in my last post on this subject, I picked a good state to teach political science in.  In California, I would have stood a better chance of lunch with Jay Leno than a few words with Barbara Boxer or Governor Schwarzenegger.  In South Dakota I got to chat with Tom Daschle on the eve of the 1994 election.  What a hoot!  God bless South Dakota.