Press "Enter" to skip to content

SDGOP/Noem Get Nat’l Press with “Sneering Contempt” for Education & Experience

Last updated on 2012.11.20

The South Dakota Republican Party and Rep. Kristi Noem are receiving some national attention. Alas, it's national attention that makes them and, if we're not careful at the voting booth, South Dakota look stupid. Here's a sampling of the national press the SDGOP and Team Noem are receiving for their absurd anti-intellectual and anti-corndog attack ad against Matt Varilek:

International correspondent Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor says the ad makes him laugh and cry... and is so absurd he had to call the SDGOP office to verify its authenticity:

...there is a certain sneering contempt for international experience and high levels of education in corners of America that this campaign ad seems to typify. Environmental issues? One can argue about whether economic interests should be sacrificed for environmental ones, but efforts to create a market in carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions is, well, a market-oriented approach.

When did education and international experience become black marks for legislators? [Dan Murphy, "In US Politics, Foreign Things Are Very Suspicious..." Christian Science Monitor: Back Channels, October 25, 2012].

Glenn Church responds sardonically:

If you listen to the ad, it sounds as if Varilek never set foot in South Dakota until he was finished traveling the world getting a higher education, working for the UN and pushing cap and trade proposals. He's actually a fourth generation South Dakotan. But that's nothing. The real attack comes with news of Varilek' corn dog parties. No, really. He held a party with 1,000 corn dogs. There was no mention that he provided any mustard though. That should settle it. Without a doubt this man is not qualified to serve in Congress [Glenn Church, "Corn Dog Parties Become Issue in Race for South Dakota's House Seat," Foolocracy, October 25, 2012].

The South Dakota GOP thinks all this attention is great. Caity Weaver of Gawker thinks the GOP's excitement may be as misguided as its "anti-relevant qualifications stance."

Fox News asks, "Best Attack Ad of the Year?" But Sarah Cobarrubias of In These Times hears the laughable backfire:

In the end, the ad leaves us asking: Is this satire? It seems more like an SNL short than a serious campaign for Congress. Rather than paint a world in which Varilek is a dangerous radical and Noem is a moral and upstanding South Dakotan, it unwittingly portrays Varilek as educated and motivated and Noem as a bumpkin who never left her home state [Sarah Cobarrubias, "Today in Laughable Campaign Ads: Congressional Candidate Portrayed as 'Corn-Dogging' Radical," In These Times, October 26, 2012].

Jess Zimmerman at Grist is appalled that voters might fall for such seething blinderism:

Seriously, you have to watch this ad to believe the depth of anti-intellectualism and anti-environmentalism at work here. The voiceover literally just reads off Varilek's impressive resume — got two postgraduate degrees, studied at Cambridge, spoke at a U.N. global warming summit — but in a tone of voice that suggests Varilek achieved all this while smearing his face with the blood of aborted puppies.

Meanwhile, Noem's achievements include receiving an award from the South Dakota Soybean Association, but at least she doesn't know anything about how soybeans work! I'm actually surprised the ad missed an opportunity to claim that while Noem did attend college, she only went because it was a requirement of her title as South Dakota Snow Queen. Surely, with a constituency that thinks attending U.N. summits and leaving the state occasionally are liabilities in a politician, that tidbit ought to make her a shoo-in [Jess Zimmerman, "GOP candidate: 'My Opponent Believes in Global Warming and Has Been to Other Countries, He Is Basically a Monster'," Grist, October 26, 2012].

I don't expect this ad to have much more impact on the Noem–Varilek race than Jeff Barth's stroke of viral video genius did on the outcome of the Democratic primary. But maybe this unforced error by Tim Rave, Tony Post, and Kristi Noem will inspire some contributions to Team Varilek and inspire some voters who believe education and experience matter to get to the polls and pick a Congressman who's qualified to do the job.


  1. David Newquist 2012.10.27

    Or it might move young people with a few brains and some education to simply leave the state for more compatible mental environments.

  2. Testor15 2012.10.27

    The ad just makes a true mockery of the Sioux City Journal claim of "potential" all the more ludicrous. Reading this the day after McGovern's funeral, being inspired once again by the ideals of a leader makes be laugh at the failure of today's politics.

  3. JoeBoo 2012.10.27

    I'm shocked at the attention nationally this is getting. I thought it might help with some of their money people get a few donations. But I'm betting its helped quite a bit with donations. He is getting a bunch of attention by some pretty big people.

  4. Ken Santema 2012.10.27

    I waited until yesterday to actually watch the ad. A friend of mine in North Carolina heard about the ad on a local radio talk show. He emailed me asking if this was real or satire?

    Upon viewing the ad I would have thought it was a very clever bit of satire attacking the SD GOP. Sadly this is an actual attack ad. All I can say is I hope SD has a Libertarian candidate running next time. We can then have the SD Republican Party to do an attack ad on that candidate. That might actually create a Libertarian Party win!

    As it stands now I think this Republican ad may actually sway enough undecided voters away from Noem. (assuming people inside SD actually watch it).

  5. JoeBoo 2012.10.27

    the pre-election FEC filing were announced today, that means as of Wednesday and though Noem has much more money, she has unloaded $300,000 on her campaign in October (plus $100K donation to the SDGOP)-must be for that ad! I don't know who will win, but I'd like to find a GOPer who won't admit she has spent way more then she thought she would.

  6. LK 2012.10.27

    The ad apparently is part of a long term strategy to turn out the Republican vote.

    In August Lindsey Graham pointed out “The demographics race we’re losing badly,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.). “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

    A couple of weeks later Rick Santorum attacked intellectuals, claiming that they would never side with conservatives.

    An voter who is proud of a lack of intellect is a more than likely a Noem voter. Noem and SDGOP probably put this ad together as a calculated effort to get these folks angry enough to go vote by reminding them that Varilek has intellectual prowess.

  7. JoeBoo 2012.10.27

    That might be their reasoning but they made a calculated mistake. Its a center election not a base election. Its a presidential year, where many more voters show up. Most of them will vote Republican on the top, and all what you want to do it put your name out their with your R behind your name so they mark your name when they go down the ballot. This ad doesn't work for that, because it makes him look qualified to independent voters, and cool to independent voters and young voters who may or may not vote. It also gives him again more name recognition.

    I can understand this ad if it was 2010, and its a base election against an well known candidate. But its not. Its just a dumb ad for the GOP.

  8. LK 2012.10.27


    I admire your optimism. One of the most embarrassing things SD could do is re-elect Noem.

    On the other hand, I see no evidence that a center exists in SD. Over half of the state's voters are so red state that they make a raw steak look well done. There's a small band of liberals who seem to be holding out in a few strongholds. The center, if one exists, isn't organized enough to make an impact in any SD election

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.27

    LK: if this video is an attempt to get uneducated voters angry enough to vote, it misses one crucial point: as other commenters have noted, it runs 2:40. I've had it come up as an ad on YouTube playing before I get to watch the video I clicked to watch. Neither I nor likely Kristi voters will wait that long to see their Star Trek clips and dancing cats.

    LK, I believe Dr. Newquist would contend that the sensible center has moved away along with the passionate Left.

    Ken, again, I would welcome a serious third-party challenge in South Dakota. But no libertarian I've heard has shown the skill to organize such a challenge. I hear a lot of armchair philosophy and patriot games, but no serious politicking. Gordon Howie, Stace Nelson, Dan Willard, Aaron Heidelberger, and those anonymous robocallers think they can remake the GOP, but they lack cash, candidates, and straightforward organization. This election doesn't seem any more likely to create a third-party opening than the last one did.

  10. JoeBoo 2012.10.27

    I'm not disagreeing that in South Dakota that ad can work. The point I'm getting at is a more moderate electorate turns out in Presidential years, and as a youtube ad its not going to get to the cranky old racist like it will the younger more liberal base.

  11. mike 2012.10.27

    Plain and simple. This video has backfired on the SD GOP. It's just one more mistake by the new SD GOP administration. Who did they pay to make this? Stay away from that guy.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.10.28

    Whoever the producers were, you Republicans paid Tony Post to approve it.

  13. Donald Pay 2012.10.28

    I think Noem and her ad encapsulates every reason my daughter left South Dakota as soon as she graduated from high school.

Comments are closed.