Last updated on 2012.11.13
That Sioux Falls paper says Congresswoman Kristi Noem has slacked off on her duty to attend committee meetings, held too few public meetings with constituents, played party-boss lapdog, enunciated no clear political philosophy of her own, and failed to represent the people of South Dakota.
Yet offered Matt Varilek, a candidate who has demonstrated a clear knowledge of serious policy issues and a clear willingness to do the job that Noem is not, editor Randall Beck and the Sioux Falls editorial team advocate giving Noem "two more years to get it right."
What reason does Congresswoman Noem give us to think that she will get it right? Oh, she promises that she'll work harder... by doing less work:
The past two years she's been on three major committees: Agriculture, Natural Resources and Education, each with its own subcommittees. That's a larger load than most members of Congress, and a fact Noem cites to defend herself against one of the most persistent Democratic attacks, that she doesn't work hard enough.
Noem has missed many of her committee and subcommittee meetings during the past two years, attending fewer than half of the meetings of committees such as the Agriculture Committee and the subcommittee on Indian affairs.
"That is, of course, a terrible record," Varilek said. "We simply cannot accept that kind of performance from our one member of Congress."
Noem says that is unfair criticism. Between all her committees and meetings with constituents, she can't be everywhere at once, and she says she often skips unimportant committee meetings to do other work on behalf South Dakota.
Most of the committees she doesn't attend are informational hearings, and Noem trumpets a record of missing only a handful of votes in committees or on the floor.
"I've shown up every day of my life for South Dakota and for agriculture," Noem says. "I've always been a hard worker and will continue to do that, and believe people will judge me on results that I'm able to deliver for South Dakotans."
Noem might not have as many conflicts next year because of changes in assignments that could lead to her sitting on fewer committees, she said [emphasis mine; David Montgomery, "Noem Says Her Views Align with S.D. Values," that Sioux Falls paper, October 28, 2012].
Wait a minute: South Dakota has a voice (at least in theory) on three important House committees. Congresswoman Noem says we should vote for her because her bosses will take away some of that voice so she doesn't have as much work to do.
If Kristi really wants less work to do, we can arrange that by voting for Matt Varilek. But maybe that's the outcome she really dreads: being sent back to the private sector where she can't get by with skipping work.
The Sioux City Journal wants us to vote on "potential" for a woman who has demonstrated none on the job. That Sioux Falls paper wants us to put Noem on probation for another two years. I suggest we vote on performance. And when Noem says she wants to perform even less in her second term, it's time for us to pick someone a little more eager to work for us.