Congresswoman Kristi Noem dropped in on Mitchell diners yesterday over the noon hour. Her semi-announced visit to Mitchell was somewhat like her controlled town halls by telephone: she doesn't feel she has to let you know she's coming; Princess Kristi will deign to visit when she feels like it, and you, dear subjects, will drop what you're doing and smile and bow on her arrival.
Rep. Noem was relatively hospitable to her guests, taking time even to talk to some guy from Wisconsin who boils his politics down to the simplistic bromide of "Reduce the debt. Nothing else matters." (Sorry, Chuck Dove of Star Prairie, Wisconsin, but many other things matter.)
Rep. Noem also spoke with Mitchell resident Owen Reitzel, who managed to track her down by piecing together the time announced on the radio and the place announced in the paper. (Seriously, Noem staff? You can't do better than that?) Reitzel told his Congresswoman about his wife's struggle with breast cancer. Mrs. Reitzel was diagnosed with cancer last June. Reitzel said they were lucky to have decent insurance and that without it, their choice would have been bankruptcy or death. Reitzel said a good universal health care system would prevent any Americans from facing such a choice.
In response to this call for the moral use of our national wealth, Noem didn't have much to say, other than to turn to the press and recite the talking points about competition and malpractice reform. Funny: Noem hasn't done anything about either issue during her first year in Congress. The private insurers want consolidation, not competition. The best competition would come from a robust public option. And malpractice claims make up less than one percent of total health care costs.
So what were you saying about health care reform, Kristi?
Rep. Noem then rode out to Boyds' Gunstock plant, where "Plant officials declined to allow the media on the tour." Again, what?!? Why if I'm a Congresswoman running for re-election do I go on a tour of a great local manufacturer if I can't get pictures and soundbites for the local press? If I'm a Congresswoman, I say to the boss, "Hey, let's tour the plant. We'll bring Tom Lawrence and J.P. Skelly along. Your plant gets press, I get press, we both look good."
But no. Princess Kristi just can't risk too many unguarded interactions with the public or the media and their darned questions.