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Noem: Vote for Me So I Can Do Even Less Work!

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.


  1. TCMack 2012.10.29

    I am just waiting for the excuse from the Rapid City Journal and their endorsement of Noem, and their weak excuse to back their endorsement. For someone who has been in the position for two years, there should be a better reason to re-elect her other then potential to do better in the next term. If Stephanie Herseth Sandlin was this bad, these papers would be screaming to get rid of her instead of giving her another two years.

    The Argus comment that Matt has not given course he would if elected, and that is why they wanted to endorse Noem. My question to the Argus is what has Noem done in Washington to deserve to go back?

    My argument would she has done nothing and the endorsement is the Argus and the Sioux City Journal betting that even with her horrible record that the people of South Dakota will vote her back in for another term. That is what those two endorsements tell me.

  2. Rorschach 2012.10.29

    The ironic thing is that Rep. Noem wanted on all those committees to project an image of a freshman Rep. who was in the thick of things in DC. In reality she just wanted the image of being on those committees and not the work of it. If she's re-elected to a second term, time will tell if serving on fewer committees prompts her to show up and participate more often. My guess is she'll only show up if she thinks someone's watching - or taking roll.

  3. Steve O'Brien 2012.10.29

    The ad Noem has touting her near 100% voting record is another element that troubles me. If she is missing all the committee meetings where the testimony and facts are laid out - yet she still votes, what is she using to shape those votes?

    To me this is the worst form of partisan induced ignorance. In DC, Noem doesn't have to get the facts, her party has already told her how to vote on issues.

    It is shocking how SD seems to be embracing ignorance and shunning intelligence. (Well, everywhere except this blog of course.)

  4. mike 2012.10.29

    Don't despair. Let's hope Varilek doesn't get blown out by huge margins and that will give Brendan Johnson the chance to defeat her in '14.

    maybe Noem winning will cause more problems for Republicans. She may take Rounds on for US senate.

  5. David Newquist 2012.10.29

    Those endorsements are incomprehensible. They lay out Noem's feckless performance in some detail, but dismiss Matt Varilek's education, experience, and the substance of what he is running on. When one compares Noem's freshman performance with any previous federal legislators, with the exception of Thune, her fecklessness is astounding. But the people chose her over the energetic and responsible Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, and the two newspapers are in effect endorsing that failure in performance. The values she most emphatically represents are those in that dreadful ad, small-mindedness and a pettily malicious resentment of actual accomplishment.

    She appears to be getting the same pass from the press that she received in obtaining her degree. The last years I was teaching, the state higher education system imposed strict limits on how many courses could be taken off campus and by independent study. When a student of a colleague of mine had classes canceled because they did not reach the enrollment requirements, he gave her an independent study course so she could graduate. This went against the direct policies of the university, and my colleague was disciplined with a year's suspension without pay. Noem finished the requirements for her degree while sitting as a U.S. house member. I seriously wonder how she met her course requirements. I am very curious about what her transcript looks like. I suspect she was given a mail-order diploma while other students have to meet residency and course requirements.

  6. JoeBoo 2012.10.29

    I have a big problem with these type of endorsements. If you support Noem just come out and say we like Noem and then say why. Don't say we like her because of "potential" its not a 19 year old middle infielder with a good glove and little power. Its a 40 year old congresswomen with a pretty face and not much else. She is an incumbent so you don't say give her 2 more years to figure things out. That is like a parent saying 1 more time we will let you get away with it, and then repeat it again. If she is not going to continue being on the biggest (best) committees then what benefit does she have as an incumbent?

    I guess my point is if you are going to do a half-@$$ endorsement, then just don't give one. Don't go and report on her problems then say they don't matter.

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.29

    David: I would love to see that transcript, too. Maybe we could get some South Dakota Trump to offer Noem a million bucks to release her transcript.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.29

    Mike, I don't despair: given that conservatives view that Sioux Falls paper as a liberal rag, they will surely view this endorsement as a sign that Noem is too liberal and that they need to vote for the other guy!

    While not despairing, I also will not settle for anything other than total victory. If Varilek loses, the margin won't matter. Noem will retain access to the machinery of power and the opportunity to network and get free press for two more years. The local GOPers who don't like Noem now won't like her any more in 2014. We need to remove her now, for the good of the state!

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.29

    By the way, I really like the word feckless.

  10. Michael Black 2012.10.29

    How many here will support the winning candidate no matter who it is?

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.29

    I will support the winning candidate with honest blogging. When the candidate makes South Dakota better, I'll say so. When the candidate screws up and hurts South Dakota by neglecting the job we pay the candidate to do, I'll say so.

  12. Les 2012.10.29

    Huh? Support good legislation, or just support the person?

  13. Michael Black 2012.10.29

    Let me clarify: will you show your support of the winning candidate by sending letters or making phone calls to their office so that they can be better aware of South Dakotan views on important issues.

    Blogging is not direct contact.

  14. Les 2012.10.29

    Phone calls and written requests that go unanswered don't give you much to work with Michael.

  15. JoeBoo 2012.10.29

    I think he is saying he will treat them the same on the same issues.

    I made a comment about Noem's college transcripts when she graduated and I got attacked for them (not on here).

    The issues I had was the credits at SDSU. It was noted that she had taken quite a few credits at USD and had attended Mount Marty College. State BOR's say you have to achieve a certain % of your credits from the school you get your degree at. The other issues I had was the amount of credits she was getting as an intern. I didn't think she should qualify and it seemed like she was getting too many. Another was the amount of time (years) she achieved the credits over. I had a few friends who had came back after 10 years and many didn't qualify, I believe state law/rules says anything after 6 years can be denied. And like you said David the last was the amount of independent classes she was allowed to carry. In my experience you had to have good reason and could only take so many.

    But I really don't care too much about that because no one will release it and if they do it will just be unfair attacks. If attacking someones attendance record is unfair I don't know what would work.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.29

    Michael, I send e-mails, too. But I see just enough hits from and to get the impression that I'm achieving contact.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.29

    Joe, I agree that Noem's degree smells of special treatment. How many other undergrads get to walk away from campus, then come back two decades later, pick up right where they left off, and graduate? Now she wants us to think that she deserves special immunity from criticism and hard work. That Sioux Falls paper appears to agree.

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