Last updated on 2012.12.13
Apparently Tim Giago prefers empty incompetence to serious policy discussion. In a Huffington Post article eagerly touted by the Republican spin machine, Giago says that even though he's had more substantive policy conversations with Matt Varilek than with Kristi Noem, he thinks Noem will serve Indian County better.
Giago says that he and Varilek have an honest disagreement about economic development policy on the reservation. Varilek, who was Senator Tim Johnson's economic development policy chief, recognizes that investment in education, infrastructure, and a strong justice system lay the foundation for economic development. Giago contends that Varilek relies too much on non-profit organizations and should do more to make loans available to reservation entrepreneurs. Giago contends that he and Varilek engaged in a heated debate over these policies on the phone... from which Giago concludes that Varilek is "enveloped in an archaic mindset" that wastes taxpayers' money.
But what does Noem stand for that trips Giago's trigger? Well, nothing.
Giago thinks Noem did a really good job of dancing in a pow-wow in 2010:
...Ms. Noem, obviously a neophyte, gamely got out on the arena floor and participated in the round dance with her Lakota constituents. After her first hesitant steps she easily fell into the rhythm of the drums and seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself [Tim Giago, "The Failed Policies of the Democrats on Indian Reservations Will Continue Under Matt Varilek," Huffington Post, October 21, 2012].
Yes, because begin able to fall into the rhythm and enjoy herself make for a good Congresswoman.
Giago then points to a speech Noem made at a Sinte Gleska University graduation ceremony. He says she spoke about the importance of higher education and federal funding for Indian colleges... which distinguishes Noem about as much saying she also breathed and walked on two legs.
Giago can't point to any new policy initiatives or unique knowledge or experience that make Noem a good choice for Indian Country. He admits that she still doesn't know enough to help. Instead, he plays to the mere hope that she can learn:
Kristi Noem is new to Indian country and I hope that she will bring fresh ideas to pushing for economic development on the Indian reservations. At least she will listen to successful Indian business men and women and, I believe, learn enough to pass the legislation so badly needed to bring jobs and homegrown businesses to the reservations.
Matt Varilek still clings to the failed policies of his predecessors and when faced with new ideas to overcome these failures he disconnects and rebels.
I think we need to give Kristi Noem the opportunity to continue to learn and strive to reach out to the nine Indian reservations in her state. Her predecessor, Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-SD) was great, but it took her many years to connect to the people on the Indian reservations. Right now Noem is our representative and if she keeps that open mind and really wants to learn and to help the people on the Indian reservations, we should all assist in her education. For all of these reasons, my vote will be for Kristi Noem [Giago, 2012.10.21].
Dig through the contradictions if you can. Giago says Varilek "clings to the failed policies of his predecessors." Herseth Sandlin was his most immediate predecessor, and Giago says she was "great."
Giago admits Noem is still learning. Funny: I thought she finished her internship last year.
Giago's support for Noem is based on "hope" for "fresh ideas" that Noem has yet to formulate or articulate. Apparently given a choice between a candidate with real experience and policies that he firmly advocates and a do-nothing Congresswoman who submissively listens but has no position, Giago prefers to gamble on looks and pablum.
Related Reading: This Native Sun News report on the October 12 Varilek–Noem debate in Rapid City wishes both candidates would have said more about Native American issues. However, Brandon Ecoffey finds Varilek "better prepared" to respond to questions on economic development. Ecoffey also finds Noem prevaricating about the cuts to Indian programs included in the Ryan&ndashRomney budget that she supports.
Update 2012.10.24 05:43 MDT: Recall that in 2010, Giago endorsed Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. He called SHS and Tim Johnson (for whom Varilek worked at the time) the "two most knowledgeable members of Congress when it comes to Native American concerns and issues." He said replacing SHS with the vague Kristi Noem would be "a disaster of epic proportions for Native Americans."