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].