Thursday, June 7, 2018

Let's Curb Some Enthusiasm

Cory Heidelberger has several qualities I lack, chief among them unflagging optimism. He is also indefatigable. That said, his post analyzing Billie Sutton's ability to blunt Kristi Noem's advantages in the general election is more than a little too sunny. It is my duty, as a curmudgeon with years of training, to rain on the picnic.

Cory writes that he "underestimate[s] how much charisma Congresswoman Kristi Noem projects." As a quick aside, I can't underestimate Noem's charisma because I don't see it. I don't know if there's a noun that sufficiently names how vapid and vacuous I believe her speeches, interviews, and policy pronouncements are. Cory's and my lack of appreciation of Noem's charisma doesn't matter. The fact is Republicans have adopted her as a "favorite daughter." Combine that with the fact that Republicans have 93,632 more South Dakota registrants than Democrats, and Sutton's cowboy hat styling and profiling come up a bit short.

More importantly, Congresswoman Noem has the an intangible that I could never coach my female debaters to develop: mean girl immunity. A few possessed that intangible naturally, but before every tough round, I would tell all of female debaters, "It's not fair, but society at large and most judges are going to view the guy as tough and the woman as a witch, so be nice." The negative ads in the recent primary once again illustrate Noem won't have to "campaign nice" in the fall. When Sutton responds, Republican voters will reflexively defend their "favorite daughter."

Finally, there's logistics. Noem has run numerous statewide races. Republicans have a plethora staffers with statewide experience. Sutton and the Democrats have a thin blue line.

I know that every human has feet of clay; I hope Sutton finds a way to discover and exploit Noem's weaknesses, but Sutton's task takes Sisyphean to a new level.


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