For crying out loud, please stop damaging the Republican brand. (And maybe sleep on it before you say it. )

For the second time this legislative session, the headlines have blared nationally over stupid things that Republican legislators have come up with off of the top of their heads. First, we were treated to Representative Isaac Latterell bringing decapitations and terrorists into the pro-life/pro-choice debate: isaac And this week, we got to enjoy how Representative Elizabeth May brought terminal test anxiety as the last straw in tipping crime and poverty stricken teenagers on Pine Ridge to take their own lives: common_core Does anyone bounce these things off of anyone before they put them out there for public consumption, and ask “Does this make me look stupid” before they make these wild-eyed pronouncements? At this point, I’m kind of wondering if they do.

How does saying test anxiety is contributing to a disturbing suicide rate encourage a young professional businessperson to run as a Republican candidate for office when asked? When going door to door, how does saying “Planned Parenthood is beheading children people like ISIS terrorists” convince people that helping Republicans get elected is a worthwhile cause? The answer is that they don’t. They’re just incendiary bombs being lobbed for the sole purpose of getting personal attention.

And of course they’re going to get attention. They’re over the top, offensive and just plain stupid. And all that attention comes at the expense of all the other Republicans who are trying to do the difficult job of governing, and are now at risk of being painted with the same broad crazy brush by Democrats and the media who look for these opportunities. Every time I read that kind of thing, I find myself asking “For crying out loud, please stop damaging the Republican brand.”

If you feel the need to say something offensive and incendiary, sleep on it first. Bounce it off of a colleague for a read on how it sounds. Sometimes it’s inadvertent, accidental, or it can’t be helped. Ā But, when you look at the people who have been around for a while – those who have risen to the top, and have longevity – They’re are known for their thoughtfulness and intelligence.

Not for lobbing bombs.

52 thoughts on “For crying out loud, please stop damaging the Republican brand. (And maybe sleep on it before you say it. )”

  1. May’s comments were dumb.

    Latterell’s comments were probably deliberate and intended to be incendiary since he actually took the time to right them down and most likely edit them.

    His post reminds me of Steve Hickey’s gay column he tried to get published in the Argus.

    Some of these guys want to be sensational and provocative because that’s what gets them headlines and that is what they are after. Not necessarily for themselves but to bring attention to what is going on behind the scenes.

    They marginalize themselves by doing so but they get written about.

    1. They try to maximize exposure and increase fund raising at the expense of making the State of South Dakota look like a bunch of clowns for electing these people.

    1. he became a congressman because the kneejerk reaction at that press level is to sabotage and slander u-s congressmembers who are republican.

      1. i know it was the washington times, which is considered gop-friendly. but the beltway journalism knee-jerk slander reflex is what it is.

      2. Ha! Republicans do not need any help with that. They do quite well all by themselves.

        1. that’s because you see how the press spins it all. and enjoy it too obviously.

          1. The only spin I see is written by you. And I do not believe anything you write.

  2. Here is my offense to these comments:

    Abortion is its very own evil. Comparing it to anything else does neither justice (giving it its due).

    As I heard Schoenbeck say once, “the biggest issue in South Dakota is the tragedy of our young people on the reservations.” Just because one is against Common Core is no reason to even mention it in relation to the problem of young Indian suicide.

    That said, just because these linkages are unwise and improper, I think we should just attribute it to “exuberance” and hyperbole and not overstate its import with regard to either May, Lattrell or the GOP brand.

  3. Don’t forget Jackley (…. and this tangential thread is GONE for being off topic, and not just a little bit untrue. – Blog Overlord PP)

  4. it is painful to read these stories when they crop up due to someone’s thoughtless remarks. here in gop-dominant south dakota, it is so easy to forget that republicans are being targeted and hunted to extinction by the mainstream media, and have been since bush 41 and the onset of the clinton’s ‘politics of personal destruction.’ this is what is so so so so so frightening about the seemingly casual way in which a lot of hard right conservatives express themselves, their opinions about the president’s nation of birth, the unfairness of entitlement politics, etc. they never think about what ammunition they give their enemies by their own mouths. it’s painful.

  5. Both May and Latterell — and you can add Hickey to the list — have marginalized themselves with their fellow House Members. None of them can pass legislation. When they speak on the floor, eyeballs roll. I write this not to be hyper-critical, only truthful. Since none of these legislators have credibility with their fellow legislators, they use the only leverage they have left to try to make a difference – outrageous statements and media attention.

    1. What about Haager slaming County commisioners in relation to fudnding and the cookie jar. There are a number of county’s comiisioners that were not too happy with that given the challenges they face with roads, bridges and other challenges.

  6. Unfortunately, Rep. Latterell’s bill probably did more for Planned Parenthood than it did for the Pro Life movement. I still am puzzled that the committee sent it to the whole House…

  7. Since the big dummy’s not in Pierre anymore, they think this is their chance to get some of the attention he was receiving, that they were jealous of.

  8. No doubt there is truth to the criticism above about me wearing out my welcome in the party. Some cheer me on when I speak up, others roll their eyes. Not sure that’s anything new. It’s probable the comment above was even written by a colleague in the legislature. If I was singing the song they want sung it might not be so hard to listen to me.

    There are four groups of legislators in Pierre; Democrats and Wing Nuts, Power Players (party poster boys) and the Grovelers. I’m in the lower tier of the grovelers. Grovelers have to work twice as hard on bills and can only get something done if the Players smile on it too. Please relax and don’t be offended by what I’ve titled these four designations. I mean them to be hyperbole. Depending on the issue, on any given day, I’m standing right along side my friends in any one of these groups.

    Perhaps I should give more thought to the Republican Brand as I do align closest with it. Notably worse for the Republican Brand (than a often out-of-context comment that goes national) are missteps in how we steward our supermajority. Things like changing the rules so we win (Daschle Law, CAFO regs, Initiated Measure signature minimums). Also hurting the Republican Brand are things we do that give the public the perception we care more about money than we do about people, that we care more about business than we do the bottom feeders in our economy.

    Just a few of my thoughts. I mean them as constructive. Fire away…

    1. rep. hickey, i personally believe you were unfairly swept into the unflattering association with the two persons mentioned above. there’s being a pariah, and then there’s being a not-very-smart pariah. i think the latter is being described here. you seem very well spoken.

      1. I think Rep. Hickey is sometimes right, sometimes wrong – always principled. Most of the time when I disagree with him it is on the application of the principle, not the principle itself.

        Yes, some things seem to get his goat more easily than others, as they do with all of us, but those in the political arena need to be a bit more careful on that. The danger is that, when things get his goat and he responds somewhat rashly, walls are built. Effective legislators build more bridges than they do walls. Fairly or not, Rep. Hickey is developing a reputation as a wall-builder.

        As for the others, Rep. May’s comments were ignorant. Blaming Common Core and “test anxiety” for suicides is an attempt to harness these deaths to her pet cause which is insulting to the dead and their families. Rep. Latterell’s comments are intentionally incendiary. They will resonate with those who agree with him and alienate those who do not. As such, they are intended to strengthen the division – reinforce the wall – rather than persuade. I can conceive of situations where this tactic is useful. Democrats have used similar methods in the national media to marginalize and dismiss conservative positions on a regular basis. I fail to see how it is tactically useful at this point in time in this state.

        1. ” Rep. Latterellā€™s comments are intentionally incendiary”

          Agreed. So what?

          I’m glad some representatives get fired up and emotional on some issues.

          THE ISSUE of our times is not gay rights–it’s the rights of the unborn. Without adequate protection of he unborn, neither gays, nor blacks, nor NAs, not Dems, not republicans are safe.

          If that’s incendiary, so be it… let’s burn it down.

          If that tarnishes the “brand” , then the brand isn’t worth the label printed on it.

          Gays don’t care about being “incendiary”; Al Sharpton does not care, the folks in Ferguson don’t care about ACTUALLY burning it down, Nancy Pelosi doesn’t care and Obama sure as hell does not care about being “:incendiary”. While we bicker about “branding”, Rome burns and innocents die.

          I say we need to pick up the fire hose to put out the flames, and not be apologetic about it.

          1. I answered the “so what” – that is, I question the tactical usefulness of these incendiary comments in the present circumstances. I admit, there are times when comments of this nature MAY be tactically useful in achieving our cultural and political goals.

            In short, I do not thing Rep. Latterell’s comments achieve anything useful and may well be counter-productive in our current environment.

            1. “In short, I do not thing Rep. Latterellā€™s comments achieve anything useful and may well be counter-productive in our current environment.”

              I think you’re right on the first part, misguided on the second part.

              The “current environment” is as it is BECAUSE conservatives/Rep. allow others to create and define the “current environment for US. I refuse to concede the “current environment” to others.

    2. “No doubt there is truth to the criticism above about me wearing out my welcome in the party. ”

      It took you this long to figure this out?

  9. There are actually only two groups in Pierre. Those who are Power Players, which includes both parties, and those who care abut doing what is right, which include wingnuts and populous Democrats. This leaves out the fastest growing demographic…the Independent. How long will they remain non-players?

  10. Dictionary definition of grovel: humble oneself or act in an abject manner, as in great fear or utter servility. lie or crawl with the face downward and the body prostrate, especially in abject humility, fear, etc. take pleasure in mean or base things.

    1. Good grief. There are other definitions like to scrounge like a dog. Maybe there is a better word. The point: some have to try harder to get something done and get dirty.

  11. Steve,

    Clarity of message or communication requires clarity/precision of the words used. Until your last sentence, I had no idea your point was you believe you work harder than many of your colleagues and I have no idea what you mean by “get dirty” unless you are implying you have to resort to nefarious tactics to accomplish your goals. I suspect that is not what you mean so my confusion continues.

    By the way, scrounge means:

    1. to borrow (a small amount or item) with no intention of repaying or returning it.
    2. to gather together by foraging; seek out:
    3. to borrow, especially a small item one is not expected to return or replace.
    4. a habitual borrower; sponger.
    5. an act or instance of scrounging.
    6. a person who exists by foraging.
    7. scrounge around, to search or forage for something, especially in a haphazard or disorganized fashion; hunt for.

    1. This isn’t the first place I’ve spoken on my notion of the four classes of legislators in Pierre. So far the reactions have been affirmative from other legislators who say it’s pretty accurate. They seem to know exactly what I means. Troy is the first one to seem to get hung up on what I could possibly mean. Not sure how to help you Troy. I’m mean groveler in the sense that victories are harder to come by. The adminstration and big lobbies pave the way for the player class. It’s a rougher road for groveler class. I’d think the wing nuts and democrats might say it’s even doubly harder for them. Put your dictionary away. Do you parse your wife’s comments too? šŸ˜‰

      1. Rep Hickey,

        I’m sure you mean the best but you need to assume that so do the others who are serving with you. I haven’t seen any of them publicly criticize you but you often throw stones at them in the public spotlight. It’s not easy being a legislator at times and you should spend more time thinking about how your actions impact another.

        Just like Rep. Latterell should spend some time thinking how other members are going to feel if he brings a bill like he did and puts everyone in an awkward spot. All of us pro-lifers agree that planned parenthood is bad but maybe there is a better way of going about getting rid of them than bringing a bill that doesn’t do a thing.

  12. Latterell and May were as nutty as the proposal to free Leonard Peltier. Some ideas are just bad and should be kept in the closet if you disagree because they are offensive to many.

    No offence Reverend Hickey but you remind me of Ron Paul because you focus on the 5% that you disagree with Republicans on all the time instead of focusing on the common ground. (that said I would never say you and Ron Paul had a similar philosophy because he is a libertarian)

  13. This post sort of reminds me of the smart cowboy way of sorting cows and pushing calves. The cowboy who gets in the middle of a herd of corralled cows without hooping and hollering gains their trust. Then slowly moving into their comfort zone pushing just the ones out he wants. He can do that all day and they will keep circling and sorting. One loud holler though and it’s over. The other smart cowboy pushing yearlings through the chute knows the closer he can push on them the less likely they are to kick. And a kick from a yearling four feet away can crush bone. Again he never raises his voice all day and by working slow and quiet he gets done sooner. Politics Cowboy Style!

  14. You’re failing to mention so many more.

    How about those geniuses trying to overturn the will of the voters – only a few months after the voters gave an overwhelming mandate on minimum wage?

    How about the even stupider attempt to make it twice as difficult to exercise a long-standing tradition of South Dakota initiative and referendum law?


    Well, you get it. Lots and lots of stupid things said and attempted by our great Republican leaders once again.

    1. the right of lawmakers to alter a recently passed referendum item is supported in court and in code. you make a strawman argument.
      the other items you mention come more quietly into the system but are taken care of by the system nonetheless. again, much noise about very little. wow.

      1. They do have the right – I don’t dispute that. But far too many of them don’t have the gray matter to use the right properly. Regardless of what right they have, a stupid idea is just that – a stupid idea, piled onto the overflowing bushel basket full of more stupid ideas.

    2. AO,

      How about reducing the minimum wage for minors going against the will of the voters? This bill is self serving and has nothing to do with reducing job opportunities for your youth.

      1. The voters overwhelmingly approved it. I can appreciate where the people who opposed the minimum wage increase are coming from.

        I wonder all the time how stupid the voters are to send so many Republicans to Congress, the Governor’s mansion and the Legislature. I think they’re stupid to do it.

        But I regard their decision as a sacred component of a healthy Democracy. Those who wanted to go against the will of the voters don’t respect that component. And they’re wrong.

  15. The message some of these legislators seem to be getting is lets see who can one up an important issue. Abortion and guns have been the go to issues lately and it’s a race to the extreme. These issues have always been coming up but the difference is they usually get whacked in committee and barely make a sound. Getting on the floor is a big deal and while they are still a small percentage of the debate, the media is more than happy to sensationalize it as pressing matters of the session. Then of course the public sees this and thinks the legislature has nothing better to do. Latterell is a goner next election after this session without a doubt and Stalzer most likely as well.

    1. You sound like getting a bill on the floor somehow legitimizes it. A stupid idea is a stupid idea, no matter if it dies in committee or makes it to the floor – or even to the Governor’s desk. Plenty of stupid ideas to go around at every legislative session.

      I remember many times sitting in the gallery during the state of the state address, looking down at the joint session and thinking, “Heaven Help Us.”

      1. is the grist mill empty today? what next, scathing critique of the dome stained glass windows?

  16. “ā€œFor crying out loud, please stop damaging the Republican brand.ā€

    I appreciate what is trying to be conveyed, but just how concerned should we be about the “damage” when the “damage” is defined and fired by those whose sole intent is to inflict the damage? In other words, is the so-called damage self-inflicted or is it an overblown reaction by Dems/Libs/Progs INTENDED to create a perception of damage?

    Too often for too long, conservatives have been on the defensive on “issues” and “damage” and “controversies” simply created by the Left. When you allow the Left to claim that Latterell’s statements “damage” the Rep. brand, you’ve lost the fight over the ISSUE without ever making the case for it (or against it for that matter)..

    The Left is very good at asserting there’s a “controversy”, or a “battle”, when in reality, only THEY are whipping up the controversy. Consider Guilani’s recent comments for example–the Left defines his comments as “outrageous” or “racist” and thus every Rep. is asked about it & expected to kowtow with apologies and statements of separation. When VP Biden says something stupid, why aren’t the Rep. demanding that Dems. apologize for the “outrage” or the “damage” or the “controversy”? Evolution as science? Where are the questions for Pelosi & Dems about Obamacare funds for crystal therapy, or yoga, or healing copper bracelets?

    Why is PP so willing to believe there’s “damage”, when it’s more likely just another “controversy” whipped up by shamans whose INTEND to create controversy to benefit their own views without having to defend them? Really, how often do the nutjobs at Madville EVER wonder if their comments “damage” the Democrat brand? NEVER!

    Is the Rep. “brand” being damaged by Reps., or simply mislabeled by those whose life’s work is to CREATE damage by labeling it as damaged…

    and thereby never having to explain their UNABASHED SUPPORT of the sheer BRUTALITY of the routine dismemberment of “fetuses” AND….

    the gov’t paying for it?

    Yep, it’s just easier for Dems to claim that the Reps, are damaging their brand.

    I, for one, won’t fall for it.

  17. Wow – Steve, you’re going to keep most of us in Pierre up nights trying to figure out which group you put us in? Are there any subcategories for those of us that just go to work, read the bills, and try to figure out what’s the best thing to do with what’s there to be voted on?

    1. Lee, if’s that’s something that will keep you up at night, you need to look for some new and better problems.

  18. Unfortunately we have a number of loons, religious extremists and morons representing the SDGOP in the legislature. How the hell they ever got elected amazes me. Many longtime Republicans such as myself are embarrassed and really turned off when these idiots make statements and introduce bills. Our voter turnouts have been decreasing abnd somehow these people get in as a result of this. We need to recruit good reasonable candidates and have real competition in our primaries in as many districts as we can.

    1. i don’t think the problem is widespread, the loons are few but still too many.

  19. The SDGOP needs more EB5 and corruption, more tax and fee increases, more spending, more gun control from the establishment “Republicans” to undue the brand damage these people have done.

  20. We need more loons in the state Legislature. So, you’ll be on the ballot next year?

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