In a May 11 online chat, hosted by RCJ's Kevin Woster, a participant asked GOP House candidate Noem if she supported the budget proposed by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Noem immediately said she did.
In an August 11 debate, Rep. Herseth Sandlin pointed out that Ryan's budget would privatize Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. (Some commentators substituted verbs like destroy, decimate and exterminate. Ryan would also eliminate CHIP.)
Noem went homina-homina and said she'd never said that. She and the conservarazzi very quickly tried to portray her support for privatizing the prorgams senior voters love as a "fake" issue... although I'm pretty sure Woster didn't fake that May interview, and Noem didn't fake her response.
A group of senior citizens quickly called on the House candidates to pledge not to privatize Social Security and Medicare. Herseth Sandlin signed on immediately. Noem's people wrote up her own little pledge to sign, saying she won't privatize Social Security. Privatizing Medicare à la Ryan, apparently, remains on the table.
So what are we to make of Noem's flip-flop on the Ryan budget? There are a few possibilities, all of which expose Noem as an amateur:
- Noem is playing Sharron Angle, pandering to the primary extremists to get picked in June, then running scared from her stated positions when her Washington handlers point out such radical positions will lose the election.
- Noem is suffering political schizophrenia, wanting all the cultural cachet of a GOP-Tea crusader but not able to get beyond the slogans and take a firm stand on really cutting government, eliminating the deficit, and turning everything over to the free market. (Don't take this one personally, Kristi: my gal Steph has a hard time making the case for the core principles of her party, too.)
- Noem's May chat was a Palin moment. She had no idea what was in Ryan's budget; she just tried to buffalo readers with a quick answer to make herself sound smart.
Bonus Noem no: Kristi Noem sacrifices what used to be a core conservative issue, telling a roomful of educators that school vouchers aren't right for South Dakota. She's perfectly right about that—vouchers are unnecessary when open enrollment provides most South Dakota kids all the choice they need—but the right wingnuts who helped her win the primary must be groaning at having been hoodwinked into supporting yet another RINO.