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Jonathan Ellis: South Dakota Doesn’t Elect Jerks… No Mention of Rounds

In a toothless column whose only apparent purposes are to (1) fill a slow news weekend with useless chatter, (2) maintain access, and (3) get a last squeeze or two from all those folks Googling "South Dakota" and "jerk", Jonathan Ellis pats South Dakotans on the back for not electing arrogant jerks to Congress.

Ellis wraps his non-headline around how rarely South Dakota's congressional staffers bad-mouth their bosses:

Staffers of South Dakota’s current and former congressional members don’t tell those kinds of stories. Sure, their bosses might be demanding. That is, after all, how you get elected to Congress: Setting and then achieving goals and demanding success. Politics can be tense, and maybe tempers can flare. But at the end of the day, South Dakota’s congressional members have gotten high ratings from their staffers [Jonathan Ellis, "S.D. Doesn't Send Jerks to Congress," that Sioux Falls paper, 2014.12.27].

Yeah, Congress stinks, but not my Congresspeople! That fantasy is how we re-elect 96% of incumbents.

Ellis's claim is as valid as saying that since GOAC didn't say much bad about Joop Bollen or Mike Rounds, South Dakota's EB-5 program must not have had any arrogant jerks other than Richard Benda doing monkey business. It could be that we don't hear "horror stories" about our Congressional delegation because our Midwestern-German-Norwegian-Lutheran reticence keeps staffers from blabbing about their bosses more than their New York and California counterparts (though Ellis gives us no out-state examples; he just asserts that monsters abound elsewhere and tucks us into our safe little beds of self-satisfaction). It could well be that former South Dakota Congressional staffers still have bread to butter and speaking ill within the small, close-knit South Dakota political network would bring out something other than butter knives. It could be that reporters embedded in that same network can't afford to go digging for, much less publish, dirt on our two Senators or our sole Representative.

But hey fine great—take Ellis at his word. Johnson, Thune, Noem, Daschle, Herseth Sandlin—all nice people, and we're all darned nice for electing them. Ellis even mentions Pressler, whose fond former staffers launched perhaps the sweetest ad of South Dakota's 2014 Senate campaign.

Wait a minute: speaking of Rounds, where is he? Ellis makes no mention of the newest member of South Dakota's "Not a Jerk" Club.

Well, when you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Maybe Ellis is just embodying one more example of what wonderful people we are. Or maybe it's just passive aggression.


  1. Owen 2014.12.28

    Rounds is a jerk

  2. Disgusted Dakotan 2014.12.28

    Ellis was pretty critical of the whole Eb5 thing. Putting all the blame on his former right hand man and cabinet secretary, lying to the public, selling SD out to outside interests? To Ellis, that might be politics as usual. To me, that's a pedigreed jerk.

  3. 96Tears 2014.12.28

    “Jonathan Ellis is simply put the best investigative journalist in South Dakota,” thus sayeth Patrick Lalley, Ellis’ boss at Argus Sanford, during his goofy rant last month. Yep, today’s column says he’s the best at the top of his game.

    There must have been a $5 bet to see if he could write the Sunday column within five minutes about an event that is old news. No wonder this rag is losing subscribers and money.

    If you want to see a professional write a political news story, check out Bob Mercer’s offerings today in the Rapid City Journal:

  4. Lynn 2014.12.28

    I'm curious if Rounds ever returned Rick Weiland's phone call to congratulate him for winning the Senate race.

  5. Roger Cornelius 2014.12.28

    Republicans need to say as little as possible about Mike Rounds even though he is a "winner" and "not a jerk".

    Any intense discussion by anybody about Rounds will inevitably end up with a discussion about EB-5, Republicans in Washington and South Dakota do not want to have that scrutiny of the newly elected felon.

  6. JeniW 2014.12.28

    Jonathan has to wait to see if Rounds is going to prove to be a jerk or not.

    We already know, but Jonathan has to wait until Rounds becomes an "official" Senator before he can sing praises to hypo-mikite. LOL

  7. Vickie 2014.12.28

    Late breaking news: Ellis is clueless. I would not be the least bit surprised if South Dakota starts it's own version of Fox News. Oh wait...looks like they already have. *facepalm*

  8. Joan Brown 2014.12.28

    Actually, when you consider what is in the Argus on a daily basis lately, every day must be a slow news day. I see items on the front page that aren't important enough, anyway according to what I was taught many years ago when I was in high school.

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.28

    96, did you notice what the URL generator did to that second link by dropping the digits "2014"? I hope Mercer doesn't get too riled up about that. ;-)

  10. WayneF 2014.12.28

    Apparently the standards for jerkdom have been lowered. In spite of what their staffers say about them, South Dakota will have three jerks representing our state in Washington this coming term.

    Jonathan Ellis makes a non-elected fourth, speaking as he does for South Dakotans in a newspaper that has long since lost almost all of its credibility.

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