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Woster: Pesky Liberals Burden Herseth Sandlin with Unreasonable Expectations

Kevin Woster says we liberals are a nuisance for Stephanie Herseth Sandlin:

Herseth Sandlin often comes off as guarded and self protective, in part because you get that way trying to survive as a statewide-elected Democratic in a Republican-leaning state. She's been there, done that, and knows how dicey it is.

She is, however, very bright, and she also has an astute sense of politics, even though she lost touch with a liberal wing that had grown unreasonable in its expectations.

SHS also has a history of winning. And her general political philosophy - close on most issues to most South Dakotans - makes her a candidate with a strong reach across independents and into moderate Republicans.

If she can hold on to those pesky liberals in her own party [Kevin Woster, "Is it a Johnson-Herseth war or a figment of Republican imagination?" Mount Blogmore, 2013.03.06].

Unreasonable... because we expected her to live up to signals she'd sent in past years, stand up to the GOP lie machine, and vote for the best health care reform package President Obama and the Democratic Congress could muster? Pesky... because some of us thought a primary conversation would be a fine opportunity to hold Herseth Sandlin accountable for her rightward tilt?

I'd love to see Herseth Sandlin run for one of the top-ticket offices available next year (my preference at the moment: governor... and bring Max's lobbying skills to Pierre). But I'd also like to see her throw a little of her well-known caution and calculation to the wind and find her voice as a fighter for the Democratic brand.


  1. mike 2013.03.15

    If she doesn't run for Senate the Democrats will have no chance of winning anything in '14.

    Democrats need to live in reality that Mike Rounds is going to destroy Brendan Johnson by 8-12% and label him (a 36 year old rising star) with the nepotism tag for the next 10 years.

    Brendan can win a congressional seat against Noem.

  2. mike 2013.03.15

    If Herseth wants to be Governor her best bet is 2018.

  3. larry kurtz 2013.03.15

    mike: are you the two for the road idiot and the ambiguous idiot?

  4. Donald Pay 2013.03.15

    It's not so much the SHS was opposed to Obama's health care proposals, it's which side she was on. While people with a progressive or liberal leaning were battling against Obama's health care proposals because they were based on conservative Republican ideas and were entirely too deferential to the insurance industry, SHS joined the Tea Party crowd to oppose the proposals for whackadoodle, crackpot reasons. She showed absolutely zero leadership skills, and she just blew with whatever wind the Republican Party happened to flatulate. I guess I expect a Democrat to actually be a Democrat.

  5. Rorschach 2013.03.15

    I think Stephanie did a pretty good job navigating the conservative political waters of South Dakota. The one thing she did that most offended me was her vote for government to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case. For those liberal Democrats who abandoned Stephanie, they got what they deserved - Kristi Noem. Hopefully Stephanie's own party will be out in force next time she runs.

  6. owen reitzel 2013.03.15

    I think what this shows is that the Democratic Party is a more diverse party then the Republicans. Lke Cory I have problems with SHS. I think there is no problem calling her out when we disagree with her, but we still respect her.
    I wish Woster would do a piece on the Republican Party. There is no diversity there. The far right have called moderate Republicans RINOs and have tried to put them in the same catagory as Democrats, which is far from the truth and I hope the majority of South Dakotans realize this. This part of the Republican Party offer no compromise or any really solutions-

  7. Douglas Wiken 2013.03.15

    Herseth gave a bit of unfortunate credibility to the wingnut right mythology and in the process destroyed her credibility with Democrats. She rattles like an empty wagon.

    Democrats like Herseth-Sandlin and Tim Johnson make it ever harder for real Democrats because they never present anything out of the ordinary Republican stream of crap.

  8. David Newquist 2013.03.15

    There is no doubt at this point that SHS miscalculated. So has Woster. He is reflecting a Limbaughesque view of who liberals are and what they actually stand for. But in all the speculations about who is calculating what, there is an avoidance of facing the fact of a significant demographic shift in South Dakota's political makeup. Some of the most astute, powerful, and successfully experienced people in the state have removed themselves from the political scene. Those who gave SHS powerful, effective support in her past elections felt betrayed. And to the point that they have written off South Dakota and concentrated their political efforts elsewhere. A few days after the 2010 election, Sam Hurst said: "Congresswoman Herseth-Sandlin did not seek to build on the great legacy of South Dakota Democrats. She did not even seek to re-invent the Democratic brand for a new politically difficult age. She campaigned to destroy it so she could get re-elected. That will be her legacy." And then Sam went silent. So did many others.

    They turned off the lights and left, leaving political discourse to be carried on by the likes of the mean little girls at the SDWC camp of retards about rifts and rivalries between SHS and Brendan Johnson. Meanwhile, two of the most feckless people inhabit the Capital and read the trite and inane scripts provided them by their partyline hacks. No one examines their actual legislative records and pronouncements. The ones who could have gone silent. And no one seems to have noticed and asked the question why.

  9. Dougal 2013.03.15

    Apparently there are too many Democrats serving in Congress from South Dakota, so let's weed out those who don't pass the purity test. It's working so well for the Republicans, right?

    I personally like Stephanie having known her and her family for many years. On a scale of 10, she's a 9 or 10 in political and policy skills except when it comes to statements, votes and actions intended to protect herself from GOP attacks. They come off as synthetic and as pandering. They make her look weak not only to her supporters, but also to the Republicans who want to defeat her. The examples are many, starting with her climb to co-chairing the Blue Dog Democrats coalition who got flushed down the toilet in 2010 because they proved Harry Truman's maxim correct about giving people a choice between a real Republican and a fake Republican.

    If you could inject a little of Bill Janklow's talents in Stephanie, you'd have someone with the best mind, appearance, gracefulness and acumin, which Stephanie possesses, but you'd also have someone who could chase away her detractors from either party with charm, or by dismissing them as idiots or by chasing them back over the fence like a junkyard dog. People might not agree with you half the time, but if you appear reticent often enough, you'll lose their faith in you.

    This is a lesson, too, for Tim's son. Before he gets too far out of the gate, someone had better train Brendan Johnson on how to effectively put on the war mask when it's needed. I'm just amazed that the Democrats have yet to let Marion M. Rounds get blasted for his cronyism and nepotism while wasting eight years in office as governor. Pierre is a deeply corrupt place, and Rounds is a big reason for it.

    C'mon, Dems. If you're not for success, you are for something less. Get big, shoot high, throw long and kick the bastards in the ass. Or stay home, just like you did when you gave John Thune a pass.

  10. Donald Pay 2013.03.15

    The only reason to have voted for SHS over Noem was to keep Nancy Pelosi as Speaker. As far as voting records, there would be have been a slight difference, but not one that matters. She'd be a shill for the Keystone XL pipeline, just like Noem. She might have been a bit better on ag and environmental matters, but she would have played it safe, not taking any leadership position on anything. I'm not sure the Democratic Party could survive a SHS governorship. It would be warmed over Republicanism, but maybe a bit more transparent.

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.03.15

    Donald, you are pesky. I have yet to find you unreasonable.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.03.15

    Dougal, can SHS make the change you ask of her? As I'd say in the HS debate world, can she shed the orator style and become a Janklowian extemper?

    As for hitting Rounds on nepotism, do we really need to do that right now? Isn't that a better issue to fire when we have a candidate and someone other than the blogosphere is paying attention?

  13. Phil Schreck 2013.03.15

    I didn't vote for SHS because she voted like a Republican. Might as well have a Republican in there so we don't get our "pesky" hopes up that a Democrat may actually be a Democrat.

  14. Brett 2013.03.15

    I think most Democrats and even liberal Democrats understand that a Democratic politician from South Dakota isn't going to be Dennis Kucinich. Dems will tolerate votes that we may not like on issues like flag burning amendments or amendments to bills to allow for guns in state parks. These are dumb ideas, but ones that most of the Democratic base can live with for the sake of electability.

    But, we do expect that if there should come an opportunity to vote for major pieces of the progressive agenda, that our Democratic representative will do the right thing, electoral consequences be damned. There are some things worth losing an election over and some that are not. I think most South Dakota Democrats would say that it would be worth losing the House seat to enact major healthcare reform (even healthcare reform that is far from perfect!). Instead, the seat was lost anyway, and SHS has to bear the humiliation of not voting for historic legislation.

    I hope she will run again for something, but I also hope that maybe she's drawn a lesson from her experience. It's impossible to completely protect yourself from the conservative electorate our state, and some things are worth fighting for, and worth losing for.

  15. Dougal 2013.03.15

    Dr. C - SHS's is a stylist while Janklow was a tactician. Both could master strategy but were not infallible. These are not qualities that entice me to vote for either one, but the analogy helps to understand their strengths and weaknesses better. My fear for Tim's son is whether he is a stylist or a tactician. Obama is a tactician who also masters style.

    You're right that only the blogosphere is paying any attention to the GOP nepotism b.s., but the GOP in South Dakota have always mastered the art of raising coffee shop rumors to perceptions of reality. Democrats lack this ability, so the challenge is killing a weapon before it gains momentum and turns into a mantra.

  16. Roger Elgersma 2013.03.16

    If the best the Republicans can do for gov is someone who was in Pierre twelve years and did not know there was a budget problem, then we need to take the opportunity. His two big programs a year ago got dumped by the general population. Incumbent usually do well but need a record of accomplishment to do so. No reason for a good person with experience and low negative rating to wait till 2018. Have to move when the opportunity is there.

  17. Rorschach 2013.03.17

    Stephanie not running for governor in 2014 would be a huge missed opportunity for both her and the SD Democratic Party. I speculate that she favors a senate race since her husband makes his living in DC. But she could accomplish far more in SD as Governor & run for senate down the road on that record of accomplishment.

  18. mike 2013.03.18

    Rorschach is right. Governor is the big prize that controls all of SD state government. If only SD media or a national organization would release a poll showing how candidates would do against each other. My suggestion still is that Stephanie run for senate or governor when there is another open seat. Stephanie is the best candidate on the bench right now.

    Larry maybe I'm an idiot for not following you but the only part of your sentence I understand is the word idiot.

  19. Kal Lis 2013.04.13

    He also called Cory "the dominus liberalis of the South Dakota blogosphere." Isn't applying faux Latin terminology when discussing a French teacher illegal in South Dakota and surrounding states? Besides, doesn't liberalis mean generous not liberal in Latin?

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.04.14

    Better hope the Legislature doesn't notice: they might ban use of foreign language in any public communication. They have a long-standing fear of requiring any South Dakotan to deal with a foreign language.

  21. larry kurtz 2013.04.14

    most wasicu seem to struggle with non-foreign languages.

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