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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Herseth Sandlin Apologist Hides Behind Elitism

Sam Hurst is not the typical blogospheric barroom brawler. His thoughtful prose generally floats above the combative, poke-in-the-eye polemics that Sibby and I goof around with. I thus hesitate to use words like hammers, skewers, or other such violent metaphors to describe his writing.

But Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's Blue Doggery has provoked Mr. Hurst to come out swinging. Hurst offers a crushing critique of former state Dems chair Judy Olson Duhamel's open letter telling Dems to pipe down and defer to SHS on her GOP-enabling health care vote. Hurst dissects Duhamel's letter as elitist incumbent's lament.

Duhamel tells South Dakota Dems "to consider the fact that [SHS's] comprehension of the complexity of health care issues is far greater than the understanding that most of us have." Inherent in that claim, Hurst notes, is the position that SHS knows better than Tom Daschle, Tim Johnson, "73% of American physicians, the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association, hundreds of physicians, nurses and health professionals in South Dakota, the AARP, health committees in the House, 65% of the American people and the Executive Board of the South Dakota Democratic Party."

On that same point, and perhaps most damningly, "Oddly enough Congresswoman Herseth-Sandlin's level of comprehension is exactly the same as the Republican Party and private insurance companies." Ouch.

Hurst also challenges Duhamel's effort to defend SHS's Blue Dog record by arguing that the Democratic party is a big tent that imposes no litmus test and welcomes diverse points of view. Hurst smells an upside-down elitism here:

The value of diversity is to give voice to those who do not have power. You use the diversity argument to suggest that Congresswoman Herseth-Sandlin, one of the most powerful politicians in the state, is the victim, and that the grassroots rebellion should be more accepting of her position even though it stands in direct opposition to the Democratic Party. The implication is that the grassroots of the Party (those who support the President and our senior Senator) should shut up! and accept whatever position the Congresswoman decides to take in the interest of her career [Sam Hurst, "Congresswoman Herseth-Sandlin... Listen to the Butterfly Wings!" The Dakota Day, 2009.11.12.

Hurst offers much, much more worth reading in this article and in a preceding October critique in which he prefigured many of the arguments that have erupted into the open in the South Dakota Democratic Party following SHS's vote against health care reform last weekend. All the more reason to find a good South Dakota Dem to challenge SHS in the 2010 primary.

p.s.: What does SHS think of primaries?

As someone who went through a primary campaign in 2002, I think primary election campaigns make candidates stronger.

On balance, the engagement of so many people has been not only overall good for the party, but ultimately good for the nominee [quoted by Denise Ross, "Herseth Sandlin: Primary Will Make Dems Stronger," Hog House Blog, 2008.05.21].


  1. You forget that Judy Olson was the Dem Chair who held a Pat O'Brien fundraiser in anticipation of his future race for governor....

    ...at the same time Jack Billion was running for Governor.

  2. Judy Olson Duhamel or whatever had to be one of the most ineffective useless Democratic Chairmen in the history of the party.

    Her idea of chairmenship was to send out one fundraising letter after another with none of them actually providing a reason for such contributions and then in never responding to any kind of suggestion or criticism.

  3. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin did the right thing, the same thing we expect of our elected officials. She voted her convictions, regardless of party. She's taking heat for it from her own party, but guess what? We elected her to represent South Dakota in the House of Representatives, and in my opinion, she made the correct choice when it comes to this hastily put together Pelosi plan that will further deepen our deficit, hurt South Dakota healthcare and erode medical service choices. Where is the malpractice tort reform? Where are the medicare fraud checks and balances in the bill? This democratic healthcare plan is nothing more than a grab for more government power, control and future voters who will become further dependent on our tax dollars.

  4. The fact that the folks running the loudest interference for SHS are an ineffective former party official, one of my favorite Republican commenters, and media wags with strong GOP ties perhaps supports the argument that Dems need to look for a better representative.

  5. I agree wtih Goldman regarding this power grab Pelosi bill that won't address the problems this whole issue was first to fix. It will raise premiums, raise the deficit hugely, much more than claimed in the future, decimate the ranks of doctors and health care officials, lead to rationing, and of course the caveat Obama et all want, complete gov't control.

    But apart from that, I still believe that if Herseth's vote were truly needed, she would have been there for the Dem bosses. She can claim she's against it by voting no this time, but wait and see what she does next time. Her little finger is always in the wind. If she really cared what the people of SD thought and were worried about, she would have met with us last summer in open meetings. I'm beating a dead horse here, I know, but it's a fact. She refused public meetings so she wouldn't have to take a stand on anything. So much for truly representing SD'ans.

    All the Dems spouting off now against her have nothing to worry about. She will be there for them for health care, climate change, abortion, amnesty, etc. Nice little doggy!! But it is interesting how quickly the Dem's are ready to dump her. Keep it up!

  6. Whoops, did it again. Above is Nonnie. Too early for fingers to work right!

  7. I find the words "I want a real Democrat this time" interesting. Since I have been called a liberal Republican and a conservative Democrat I would appreciate it if someone who posts here would be so kind as to tell me what they think a "real Democrat" is.

    Joseph G Thompson

  8. Good question, Joseph! I certainly have my own views about what it means to be a Democrat. Other SD Dems might have different views. Perhaps the best way to get clear on the meaning of "real Democrat" is to have a vigorous public conversation and a primary vote with clear choices that would let us Dems (and our Independent friends!) offer a practical and collective resposne to that question.


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