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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Kristi Noem, Insecure Anti-Intellectual

I just heard SDPB's Dakota Digest interview with U.S. House candidate Kristi Noem. She really is South Dakota's Sarah Palin: all slogans and imagery, all anti-intellectualism, no substance.

Just like Ken Knuppe, Kristi Noem took the SDPB interviewer out for a ride in her pickup truck around the ranch. Kristi isn't much of a rancher at the moment: she still has horses, but she sold her cattle to run for Congress.

Among the offensive lines of the interview, Richard Steen, a gruff-sounding male supporter hosting a Noem event, rails against education. He says we've had enough graduates from Harvard and Yale, who've "sold this country down the river." So what, because Noem didn't finish university, we now have to demonize everyone who has, or at least those who attended our best universities? Does it completely escape Noem that you don't have to invalidate different lifestyles and life choices just to affirm your own?

By the way, the only Harvard grad I know of in the current races is Republican gubernatorial candidate David Knudson. He's not my guy, but I don't think he's sold any countries down any rivers. And are we supposed to tell all those bright young people we just feted at graduation receptions that their plans to go to universities are un-American? Is that what Noem tells her kids? "Dream small: University is for losers"?

We also hear the standard empty crowd-pleaser that we need businessmen, not politicians running the government. Sure... just like we need businessmen, not cops, chasing crooks. Or we need businessmen, not teachers, teaching elementary school. Or we need businessmen, not astronauts, flying the Space Shuttle.

Again, Kristi, there really are experiences other than your own. Those diverse experiences are as valid and valuable as your own. A professor, a soldier, a lawyer, a meatpacker, and an artist may be just as qualified to participate in government as you. To say that your particular class is better qualified for elected office than other exposes both arrogance and insecurity (remind you of any former Alaska governors yet?).

Businesspeople are in charge of BP. Clearly, businesspeople are not the best people for every job.

Noem's SDPB interview is filled with happy platitudes. Noem avers that politics won't change her, that she's a "fighter," that people are scared and need someone to protect them from government. But again, there's no practical policy agenda here. There's no answer for how we eliminate the deficit while maintaining a strong military, Social Security, and Medicare. There's no honest discussion of which earmarks and other federal assistance South Dakota sends back to Washington to help balance the budget.

Noem can't talk policy. She's only marginally better than Gordon Howie, trying to ride image, slogans, and the anti-incumbency wave to higher office. Stand Noem up against Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (yes, really, please do, my Republican friends), and the incumbent will shred the challenger on practical policy issues.

Update 15:35 CDT: Heidepriem's running mate, Ben Arndt, is a Yalie... and a businessman... rather like (ulp!) George W. Bush. What will Noem make of him?


  1. Who died and ade you judge and jury on a person's intellect?

    Tim Higgins

  2. Kristi and Steph are in agreement in about everything. They both support continued military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. They both want a strong farm bill and both oppose Obamacare.

    I believe the point she is trying to make about higher education is that having an advanced degree doesn't make you a better person or a smarter lawmaker.

  3. Well, Tim, that's a very good question for the Noem supporter who issued the initial judgment on the worth of all Harvard and Yale graduates. And Thad, check the audio: you are incorrect about the point the speaker was making.

  4. The words "intellectual" and "intelligent" mean two different things, as we shall all soon see.

  5. Stan, I hope our young, intelligent graduates eager for university are able to discern that difference amidst the rather hamfisted disdain for university education I heard from the Noem supporter in the interview.

  6. Well, we should not be surprised that anti-intellectuals would find Stephanie Herseth Sandlin intimidating!

    The fact that some apparently stupid people support a candidate does not necessarily imply that the candidate is stupid.

    Some of the smartest people I've ever met struck me as idiots at first. I think Kristi Noem has a lot of "common smarts" that will appeal to a lot of voters in both parties.

    Kristi doesn't strike me as stupid, even at first glance.

    We know nothing of substance concerning the "ham-fisted" supporter, do we, really?

    And now this ...

    "Businesspeople are in charge of BP. Clearly, businesspeople are not the best people for every job."

    Cory, your conclusion here does not logically follow from the premise. In fact, business people could be best for this job; we should consider the possibility that any and all others would have done even worse.

    Bill O'Reilly has defended the President and his administration by pointing out that even the U.S. government, with all its might, cannot "plug the darn hole."

    Suppose that the government had done all that drilling. That, in itself, would not guarantee that this same accident could never happen. However, if this spill were the government's direct responsibility, then the bill would fall directly on us, the taxpayers. As things are, the bill falls to BP, and while they may try to pass the cost along to the taxpayers, popular outrage will likely produce a different outcome.

    Of course, if this spill had taken place at a government-run facility, then the blame would fall completely on the Obama administration.

  7. Stan, you're just so darn reasonable and logical.

    I'll agree it is hard to speculate how much worse (or better?) the BP disaster would be if the drilling operation had been run by a nationalized oil company, the Army Corps of Engineers, or a bunch of universtiy professors. Maybe it's more important to note that the folks actually working on the problem are scientists and engineers, perhaps more than a few from top universities. intellectuals like that usually work hard to keep businesspeople from making greedy decisions that literally sell our country out to disaster.

  8. Is an intellectual somebody who hold a high degree or somebody who's world exists within academia? It makes a difference since the people helping with the oil spill who actually do practical work in the field have expertise, whereas those competing for government grants to do studies don't have expertise, only theories.

    If the drilling was done by the government...the drilling would never have been done. I will just let everyone speculate on how that scenario plays out.


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