South Dakotans will not get to celebrate Confederate History Month with their own reënactment of secession. Gordon Howie's last-ditch attempt to nullify health insurance reform has failed, with petitioneers gathering only half of the necessary 16,776 signatures necessary to place the initiative on the November ballot.
Wait, did I say last-ditch? Apparently when it comes to declaring state law superior to federal law, last-ditch isn't in Senator Howie's vocabulary. Neither is quit, or lose gracefully. Having lost three times now (the South Dakota Senate soundly rejected this bad legislation twice) The gubernatorial candidate and self-proclaimed teabagger now says he'll continue gathering signatures to take to Pierre to bolster his demand that the Legislature take up his nullification crusade again next year... or maybe even in a special session this year.
Gordon, stop. There comes a time to admit defeat and move on to other issues. Other senators make proposals that go nowhere during the legislative session, and they have the grace and good sense not to wage futile petition drives and go grandstanding around the state for the rest of the year on it. Can you demonstrate a little gubernatorial statesmanship and do the same?
Obviously not. Gordon Howie knows he can't win the governor's primary on practical South Dakota issues, not against wonks like Dennis Daugaard, Dave Knudson, and Scott Munsterman. (Watch Gord's YouTube campaign video, see how little relevance his slogan collage has to specific South Dakota issues.) Howie has not one practical solution for governing this state.
So Howie has only one way to win: he has to gin up supporters by aping Tea Party mantras on national issues that the South Dakota governor really can't do anything about but which are a lot more fun to scream about while wearing a tri-corner hat. (Try reading Dennis Daugaard's economic plan or Scott Munsterman's policy briefs the way Sarah-Palinites screamed about death panels—it just doesn't work.)
The dead legislation Howie keeps flogging, this year's Senate Bill 137, also happens to be unnecessary. South Dakota is already suing Uncle Sam to overturn health insurance reform. The lawsuit is based on the same constitutional arguments Howie hollers to justify his bill. If the federal health insurance law is unconstitutional, we won't need a state law to nullify it: the courts will find in favor of Jackley et al., the law wil be overturned, and there will be nothing for South Dakota to nullify. If the courts rules against the suing states (and that's the smart money), the courts would also rule against Howie's nullificatory bil.
Howie's endless nullification campaign is, therefore, a cynical publicity stunt. He knows further petitioning is legislatively futile. It's a Saul-Alinsky-style organizing tactic, a chance for his supporters to shout "Obama is Hitler!" and stay all juiced up long enough to vote in the Republican primary. It is a ploy to distract South Dakotans from practical state issues that Howie just can't handle.
If Howie were really interested in governing, he'd show some statesmanship and let health reform nullification die. But Tea Bag ranting is all Howie has to offer... and that's proof that he can't hold a candle to any of the other men, Republican or Democrat, who want to govern South Dakota.
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