Friday, May 16, 2014

Re: Last Night's GOP Senate Debate. It Was An Exercise In Redundancy, Rounds Wins By Default.

     It was pretty much a dispiriting performance all the way around.  I give Rounds the win just because the rest of the field came across as pretenders, not contenders.  Sharing a mutual contempt for Obamacare and a hackneyed determination to fix things in Washington failed to propel any of the candidates into "stand out" status, so there isn't much of a reason to expect a change in the polling dynamics that have Rounds far ahead.  I was hoping for more, especially as I believe Rounds' lead has more to do with name recognition and the natural political inertia that comes from his management, lackluster as it was, of South Dakota's affairs during his two-term tenure as Governor.  This is why I give him the win by default.
     There was one amusing aspect of Rounds' presentation.  I noted that a couple of times, maybe more, Rounds insisted that with respect to the federal government, it was time for South Dakotans to "take it back."  That stole a march from Democrat Rick Weiland's  campaign for the Senate seat with its "Take It Back" slogan, a ploy that, if it wasn't, should have been plotted by Rounds and his advisors, because it will have the effect of diluting the Weiland message.  If Rounds successfully co-opts it as a theme, it looks like we'll have a match-up in November between two campaigns vying for the same goal:  taking back Washington, D.C.  I gleefully envision a debate between Rounds and Weiland centered around who will do the better job of "taking back" D.C.
     As to any points of contention, there were a few clashes, mainly in the way of attacks on Rounds during his stint as Governor.  To the charge that Rounds was complicit in developing Obamacare because he had worked on a panel studying healthcare reform with then Democratic Senator Tom Daschle, Rounds claimed that he had "never worked with Daschle" on Obamacare.  I'm not sure this can be verified, but that's probably irrelevant as there was no follow-up in the debate, which effectively neutralized the the charge.  Rounds also successfully deflected  the claim, which he can't deny, that some of his "balanced" budgets"  as Governor occurred because he dipped into state reserves.  His retort? State law required a balanced budget.   Again, no follow-up, which put the subject to rest.  I get the sense that not many voters will care about this.  Some will see it differently, but my take is that it didn't really do Rounds any damage.
     Lackluster as the presentations were, the debate did clarify that the primary race is more about stylistic than substantive differences.  On the bigger federal issues like debt and Obamacare, the candidates were unified, condemning over-spending by the government and vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  The consensus on the recently passed Farm Bill was that our Republican delegation to Congress did a great job on it, even if it is still festooned with the SNAP (food stamp) component that takes up 80% of its cost, a singularly contemptible aspect of the bill to South Dakota's Republican reps.   Oh, well, nobody's perfect.  That none of the candidates could be singled out for bringing a unique perspective or set of principles into the race made this debate--the whole GOP primary season, actually--an exercise in redundancy.  This is why I think the most well-known candidate, Rounds, wins it by default.



  1. Hello John,

    This is Lynn from over at Madville.

    I lived out of state during the Rounds years as Governor and only briefly remember him when he was in the legislature. Was that a forced smile he was showing during the debates and that I've seen during his campaign ads or is it genuine? He really comes across to me as very polished being too polished with no originality, a lot of fluff and definitely distorting the facts. I see this man bending in too well into what is bad in Washington and when I say bad I mean beyond party lines.

    1. I see much the same thing, which is why I found last night's debate "dispiriting." Instead of some substantive policy differences we got 5 variations on the same themes. This is why I call Rounds the winner by default: he's the most well-known in a GOP field that won't offer us Republicans much choice in the primary. Those who believe there's some difference between Rounds and the "true conservatives" in the field will have to convince me that the "true conservatives" will differ from Rounds in their attitudes and votes involving policies affecting South Dakota.

  2. John, Ravensborg gets 20 points 10 each for being the first to invoke Reagan in the debate and 10 for being the only one to invoke Reagan in his closing statement. Rounds get 10 5 each for the two times that he did the same and Bosworth 5 for one.

    I was gone fishing when they did the debate, so I watched this afternoon on my computer. I see it will be rebroadcast on TV tomorrow afternoon. I heard Harry Reid's name more times than that of President Obama, other than the Obamacare reference to the the Affordable Care Act. I liked Stace Nelson's talking about cutting the foreign aid to Egypt, but I thought that was a little disingenuous, as he did not even mention Israel, who gets far and away the most foreign aid from the US of any country. It also has the largest lobbying effort in DC of any country, in the form of wealthy Jews who normally contribute to Democrats, but mainly are interested in getting folks in whom they can get to continue the gravy train to Israel, which now get 9 million dollars a day from the US taxpayers. I heard a lot of get rid of the EPA, and from Rounds, get rid of the Dept of Education, which is not too amazing from a State that pays its teachers 51st in the nation and 10k below the next lowest.

    I heard one statistic that I have to go back and research as I am almost positive that it is well over exaggerated. That is that the Pentagon budget is only 17% of the total budget and that it was cut 50%.

    Other than that, not sure if I am still tired from the fishing trip or if the debate caused it but, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    1. Felt the same way, Lanny, but now that Rounds got caught in a whopper it looks like the debate will have some lingering aftereffects.