Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Mr. Smith Doesn't Go To Washington.

      Mike Rounds does.  The status quo is jubilant, as it should be, considering that Rounds goes with the blessings of a smidge over 50% of us.  Though far short of the convincing margins won by Daugaard and Noem, Rounds's showing in what was effectively a 3-way race can reasonably be called a mandate.  It looks to me like a combo of a national GOP surge, a relentless anti-Obama attack by his campaign and an inherently weak pair of opponents--Pressler weakened by no money, Weiland weakened by a campaign theme ("Take It Back") that I've previously described as "vapid," "banal," and "overly thematic"--came together for Rounds.  On that last element, my sense is that a lot of Rounds voters were seriously considering looking elsewhere (he was in a nearly three-way dead heat in polls just a few weeks ago), but found Pressler and Weiland unsuitable, so they migrated back to the known quantity, the lesser of three evils.
     Now for the pre-mortem.  First off, the FBI's "active" investigation of EB-5 goes on.  With it comes even more scrutiny from the media, now to include the national outlets whose interest will be piqued by Rounds' Senator-elect status.  At some point this will probably encumber Rounds as he settles in to D.C., either via heightened scrutiny by the Senate Ethics Committee, which by rule has an equal number of members from each party, or simply by the overall negative impact of all the media noise surrounding him.  Yes, much of it is politically driven, but the distractions will be real enough, especially as everybody awaits and observes during the course of the federal investigation.
     Meantime, local interest in this thing won't vanish just because Rounds got elected.  His character has been revealed, enough so to be called into question by editorialists at the state's largest papers.  Though half the voters in the state didn't deem it enough of an issue to withhold their votes, a good share of us, maybe half, would beg to differ.  We're still waiting on an accounting of how as much as $140 million dollars that was channeled through the EB-5 program in South Dakota was disposed.
     On a more practical political front, Rounds' promise to reject and repeal President Obama's agenda bears scrutiny, issue by issue.  His U.S. House counterpart Kristi Noem blew it big time a year ago when she put party over her constituents by voting to shut down the U.S. Government, including all of South Dakota's National Parks at the height of the Autumn tourist season.  If Rounds' professed hatred for all things Obama leads him to follow the GOP agenda without consideration of his constituents' interests, he'll get as blasted as Noem did after her ill-conceived rapture with national ideology last year.
     An all-GOP delegation to Congress should warm the hearts of all South Dakota Republicans, but it does have a downside.  Nobody from here will caucus with Democrats when it comes to representing South Dakota on their side of the aisle.  I'm sure the macho-Pubs in our party are saying "so what?", but the fact is we'll be voiceless on some issues that Dems are likely to prevail on.  To that extent, Rounds and the rest of SD's GOP trio in Congress will be challenged to make sure that South Dakota's interests get some bi-partisan attention. I'm dubious that the built-in Obama-hatred that Rounds takes with him to D.C. will help him out much as he masters the art of legislating, which calls for compromise, not confrontation--but he is the new Senator.  My doubts notwithstanding, I wish him well.


  1. "as he masters the art of legislating"
    John, you have to be kidding, you know as well as I do he will do just as Noem and Thune do, fall in line and do what they are told. SD now has zero representation in Washington, and the state legislature is still the laughing stock they have always been. This is a sad time for South Dakota.

  2. I agree with Tim. Rounds is going to be just another waste of space like Thune and Noem. As a fourth generation, female, liberal South Dakotan, it makes me physically ill to realize not only do I not have any representation at the state level, I now also have zero representation in Washington. I still cannot wrap my brain around how a man under federal investigation can get elected to the United States Senate. I cannot comprehend it. It is just so absurd.