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Friday, August 28, 2009

Rounds: Flags at Half Staff for Kennedy... Since We Have To.

I'm trying really hard to avoid any snark relating to the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. But I'm going to take this one partisan shot... since Governor Mike Rounds sounds like he's doing the same:

I ask all South Dakotans to comply with the directive of President Obama to honor Senator Kennedy by flying the flag at half staff.

—South Dakota Governor M. Michael Rounds, 2009.08.27

Comply with the directive—not the words I would choose if I wanted to sound like I gave a damn. Certainly not the kind of words that accompany Governor Rounds's other half-staff orders:

On former State Rep. Tom Hennies: "Tom Hennies had a remarkable career of public service, both as a law enforcement officer and a state legislator.... He served with pride, compassion and integrity, and he will be missed. We extend our condolences to his family." [2009.08.14]

On former Lt. Gov. Carole Hillard: "I worked with Carole for six years, when she was the President of the Senate and I was the Majority Leader.... I gained a huge amount of respect for her. She was intelligent, caring, and always fair in conducting the Senate’s business. She was a 'class act' but it was never an 'act.' She was a genuine, kind, gracious person who was a good friend to everyone. She was also very proud of her family and loved to talk about what they were doing.... After she left government, she could have totally retired, but she worked very hard promoting democracy and economic development in other countries. She cared deeply about other people and about making things better. We are a better state because Carole Hillard gave her time, talent, and wisdom in public service to South Dakota." [2007.10.25]

On President Bush's Patriot Day directive: "It is appropriate that we remember and honor those brave men and women whose lives were taken in the deadly attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.... It is also appropriate that we thank those who serve the cause of defending our country and recognize our first responders who answer the call in times of need.” [2008.09.09 and 2006.09.08]

On former President Ronals Reagan: "President Reagan will be remembered as a hero and a leader.... He believed in the American people. He helped us see how bright our future could be. His vision of a free people with unbridled potential became our vision once again. America is better because of his ability to share the dream with each of us as if we knew him personally." [2004.06.07]

What Governor Rounds actually thinks about honoring Senator Kennedy is not the point. People get paid to make sure the words he says—or doesn't say—convey exactly the right message. They didn't have to gush over Senator Kennedy. But they could have crafted one sentence that sounds a little classier than, "Well, the President said so, so do it."

For some South Dakota officials who can find some respectful words, see Dave Kranz's Friday column. But as for certain legislators' lack of recall of legislation Kennedy pushed that affected South Dakota, start with immigration law, S-CHIP, and the Medicare prescription drug benefit.


  1. I thought Kranz's article was pretty lacking. To quote: "Then there's the question of whether Kennedy's legislation had any direct effect on states such as South Dakota.

    If it did, then it 'did not seem to be very blatant and wouldn't get very far,' said Mary Glenski, a former Democratic state representative from Sioux Falls.

    State Rep. Marc Feinstein, D-Sioux Falls, says it's hard to see any of Kennedy's fingerprints reaching South Dakota.

    'I suppose the only thing to me would be restoring all of the cuts Governor (Mike) Rounds was doing on the Birth-to-Three legislation, getting them to the level they are at to get the stimulus Medicaid money.'

    Seriously, people? In addition to the legislation you already listed, there's the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the 1991 Civil Rights Act, minimum wage legislation, and Title IX.

    I think what's going on here is a reluctance to admit--here in small-government-is-always-best land--that sometimes we actually benefit from and even need the federal government to legislate on our behalf.

  2. Oops, forgot a quote mark after Medicaid money.

  3. And this is what the Democrats are saying? Good Lord.

    “The last son of Rose Fitzgerald and Joseph Kennedy was granted a much longer life than his brothers,” said former Gov. Mitt Romney, who ran against (viz. was SOUNDLY defeated by) Kennedy in 1994, “and he filled those years with endeavor and achievement that would have made them proud.” -- Mitt Romney, in the Boston Herald


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