John Thune is running for President. How else can we explain our soon-to-be-senior Senator's seemingly sensible statement on climate change on Fox News Sunday?
Asked about the overwhelming agreement among experts on the cause and trajectory of global warming, Thune began with a familiar GOP climate-change dodge: “Climate change is occurring, it’s always occurring.” But then he said this: “There are a number of factors that contribute to that, including human activity. The question is, what are we going to do about it and at what cost?” [Stephen Stromberg, "Top Republican Bows to Scientists on Climate Change," Washington Post, 2014.11.17]
Amidst a science- and fact-averse Republican Party, Stromberg takes Thune's seemingly innocuous and wide-wiggly phrase as a "glimmer of hope." We should take it as a sign that he's thinking about how he sounds to people outside South Dakota. Democrats should take it as a sign that there's going to be another open Senate seat for which to contend in 2016.
And who better to contend for it than Rick Weiland? Weiland's latest public statement shows him swinging at the powers that be, including the Senate Democrats he wanted to join this year:
The only crock bigger than the Keystone Pipeline is Senate Democrats dumping on our environment to try to save one of their own.
Talk about business as usual, talk about midterm lessons unlearned, talk about just plain stupid!
You've already lost the Senate. Polls show that Mary Landrieu, whose runoff election you hope to influence, has absolutely no chance of winning. So what do you do, backstab your president, our Native Nations and the entire environmental community on behalf of a pipeline that will not only not create jobs or any energy security, but will pour additional billions in profits into the hands of the big money special interests who just spent a fortune to crush your party at the polls.
That's genius, DC Democrat style. And it is the reason my campaign is not over. In fact, it has just begun [Rick Weiland, campaign e-mail, 2014.11.17].
What what? Campaign not over?
For 18 months we ran for Senate with little more than my videographer son Nick, myself, a lot of shoe leather, and the help of a handful of friends with more passion and skill than common sense.
I want to keep that team together, retire our small debt, and get back into the fight, right now. If the DC Democrats selling us out on Keystone XL doesn't show why we can't wait, what will?
Please, send just a few bucks and stay tuned. We may have gotten washed over by the same wave that drowned so many Democrats. But unlike them, we're not rolling over, belly up and bloated, we're fighting on.
We are going to make South Dakota a demonstration project, and a nationwide beacon for the fight against big money.
And if you don't think that matters to you, think about this. Does Elizabeth Warren's voice matter beyond the boundaries of Massachusetts, or Bernie Sanders beyond Vermont, or did Paul Wellstone make any difference outside of Minnesota? [Weiland, 2014.11.17]
Demonstration project? Warren, Sanders, Wellstone? I said Sunday South Dakota Democrats should elect a liberal leader like Warren to chair the party back to victory, and here's my fellow Bulldog Debate alum Rick sounding very much as if he's answering that call.
Or does Weiland just sound like the Tea Party? WaPo's Dana Milbank finds a herd of liberal protestors on Senator Landrieu's front step talking a lot like Weiland and sees a no-compromise parallel:
One of the speakers, a young woman named Maria Langholz, argued that liberals must stop Democrats from “compromising on the promises they have made.” I pointed out that her message sounded like the tea party.
“I know,” Langholz said with a laugh. But she had just returned from working on the Senate race in Iowa, where Democrat Bruce Braley, “kind of middle-of-the-road,” lost to conservative Republican Joni Ernst.
“Ernst was sticking to her guns, saying, ‘This is what I stand for,’ ” Langholz concluded, “and that really inspires people” [Dana Milbank, "Purity Politics, Democrat-Style," Washington Post, 2014.11.17].
Senator Thune says today's Senate vote on Keystone XL is just a "cynical" political ploy to throw Senator Landrieu a lifeline in her December run-off election. It won't rescue Landrieu or build the pipeline. Senator Thune will still vote for the pipeline, on false pretenses, and in contradiction to his hint of concern about climate change.
And Rick Weiland says he will keep fighting Keystone XL, Big Money, and even Senate Democrats. But Milbank's column makes me wonder: are Rick and I looking for the South Dakota Democratic Party's Elizabeth Warren, or are we really looking for an SDDP Joni Ernst... or Sarah Palin?