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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Daugaard Backpedaling on Debates?

Wait a minute—am I imagining things? A couple weeks ago, Scott Heidepriem's campaign sent around a press release saying Dennis Daugaard had accepted Heidepriem's debate challenge, indicating he'd be willing to debate as early as June 15.

Five minutes ago, I heard the freshly anointed GOP nominee for governor tell SDPB's Paul Guggenheimer that he doesn't plan to debate any time soon. Daugaard said (quite reasonably) that right now, most voters want to go to the lake. Daugaard also offered an interesting critique of candidate debates as an artificial forum that doesn't align with how elected officials make decisions. In a debate, candidates have to work from memory and work under 2–3-minute time limits, and that, says Daugaard, isn't how real government works.

Now I'm intrigued by Daugaard's assessment of debates—even I, an avid debate judge and speech teacher, recognize that debates as usually staged by the media aren't real debates. I welcome a discussion of optimal formats for bringing candidates together to discuss their differences and establish their bona fides for voters.

But I'm wondering: did Dennis Daugaard just deliver the first flip-flop of the general election, less than 24 hours after his primary victory?


  1. So much for the anti-establishment sentiment. Looks like South Dakota Republicans equate entropy with economic development.

  2. All Daugaard has to do now is sit back and remind everyone he is a Republican. Shoe in for the November election.

  3. I think Dennis really wants to give it all a rest. We have short enough summers!

  4. When a pandering trial lawyer flips parties looking for a better forum for his political aspirations, then goes back to his old Republican party for a running mate, he is a wise new Independent Democrat? But a popular Republican candidate, on the heels of a hard won primary win, realizes South Dakotans could use a break from the nonstop 2010 campaign and you call him a flip flopper? Please...

  5. Stace, on the cosmic scale, I'm a flip-flopper, too: voted for Rounds in 2002, didn't change to Dem until 2004 for Kucinich.

    But you'll note I didn't say anything above about Heidepriem being wise, new, etc. All I said was Daugaard supposedly agreed to a June 15 debate, then indicated on SDPB he wouldn't be debating until closer to election time. Say you're gonna do X, then say you're not gonna, and that's a flip-flop... right?

    But now we learn there may have been some confusion as to whether the June 15 event was intended to be a debate....

    [By the way, Stace, I see you have a new Dist. 25 Indy challenger. Got the dossier ready on that opponent yet?]

  6. even I, an avid debate judge and speech teacher, recognize that debates as usually staged by the media aren't real debates.

    Especially you. Friends of mine that have competed in debate and studied classical rhetoric have told me about studying the many examples of how warped political debate is. For example, how an argument doesn't have to be logical or even internally consistent to work in politics, especially in today's electronic media feeding frenzy. (BUT -- it's fair to note that the democracy in ancient Greece was not immune to extremely weak but very persuasive argument.)

    At least we don't make the losers drink hemlock.

  7. Dennis may not have any guts, or his campaign staff must not believe he has intellectual command of the issues, nor his intellectual capacity to favorably contrast his views while sitting next to his opponent. Perhaps he has inflexible and socially unacceptable views.

    We don't have "big" or "unfair" media in South Dakota. We hardly ever even make cable news. It's he who's not fair to the public, or his party, when he withholds broadcasting an adequate comparison next to his opponent on the air.

    This could really hurt him, and probably should.

  8. Max, I agree it should, and I hope it will. Unfortunately, I haven't heard this story crack the radar of the mainstream media or the popular consciousness. The paltry news coverage of the conventions makes me think Daugaard was right: lots of people do just want to go to the lake and not think about politics. i don't know if we'll get people's attention back on the race until fall (heck, given the relatively low turnout for the primary, one could argue the governor's race hasn't gotten people's attention yet!).


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