Seeing her campaign momentum stopped cold after her debate failures last week, Republican U.S. House candidate Kristi Noem has hit upon a perfect canned debate strategy: identify some policy with which she disagrees, then call for the resignation of the federal agency chief in charge of it. At yesterday's DakotaFest debate near Mitchell, she rolled out the first salvo of this strategy, calling on EPA boss Lisa Jackson to quit over proposals that Noem claims would impact farmers. Noem then called on the woman she wants to replace, Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, to join her in calling for Jackson's resignation. SHS declined, allowing Noem to punch up her press release with lines about SHS refusing to fight for South Dakota farmers.
This new tack is silly. Noem can't talk policy beyond the cute slogans she gleans from Fox News. (Seriously, listen to her debate: she never says anything that you or I couldn't come up with singing in the shower to Glenn Beck.) She needs to manufacture an argument to draw SHS away from her strong points. So Noem decides to call for the resignation of government officials—not over actual misconduct or scandal, but simply over policy disagreements.
Heck, Noem might as well show up at the next debate and call for the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius for overseeing the health insurance reform that Noem hates so much. Then she can call for Attorney General Eric Holder to resign for allowing the Justice Department to sue Arizona over its imigration law. By October, Noem will be calling for President Obama to resign, just because she doesn't agree with him. Or maybe she'll go for the impeachment enchilada. Why not? It'll make her sound tough! And the most important thing we want in a representative isn't intelligence or good proposals for legislation or a mind of her own; it's tough talk.
Count on Herseth Sandlin to be the grown-up in the room:
I didn't call for Secretary Johanns, under the Bush administration, to step down even though the Bush administration opposed the farm bill. Let's stick to the issues other than demonizing political parties. Let's stick to the issues and what matters for South Dakota and doing what's right for South Dakota" [Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, quoted in Ben Dunsmoor, "Noem Calls out EPA Head, Herseth Sandlin Responds," KELOLand.com, 2010.08.17].
Noem's resignation call is the kind of bull-shooting we hear from the morning crowd, not the original thinking or sober policymaking we need from real lawmakers.
Thank you, Kristi, for making it that much easier for me to put aside my Democrat disagreements and fully advocate the re-election of Stephanie Herseth Sandlin.