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OUR VIEW: Sorry, Kristi: On this one, you’re wrong

By The Daily Republic Editorial Board

Mount Rushmore is reopening to visitors, but Kristi Noem wants it closed.

Farm Service Agency staffers are getting back to assisting farmers and ranchers, but Kristi Noem wants them to stop.

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National Guard employees are back on the job, but Kristi Noem wants them on unpaid furloughs.

The U.S. Treasury can pay the government’s bills for another few months, but Kristi Noem wants the nation to default on its obligations.

How else can we interpret the vote that Noem, a Republican, cast Wednesday night against a deal to end the federal government’s shutdown and avert a default on the government’s debt?

South Dakota senators Tim Johnson, a Democrat, and John Thune, a Republican, voted with the majority to end the shutdown and should be commended for it. We believe most South Dakotans wanted the government shutdown to end, and we believe that’s why Johnson and even Thune — despite Thune’s membership in the same party as Noem — voted as they did.

Yet Noem voted to keep the government shut down, and again, we believe that’s contrary to how regular South Dakotans feel.

We’ve hosted Kristi Noem in our conference room for lengthy discussions here at The Daily Republic. We think she’s a smart, capable person. We believe she wants what’s best for South Dakota.

Unfortunately, throughout the shutdown crisis, she staked herself to a misguided position.

Noem is right that many people dislike the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which she and other critics deride as “Obamacare.” She’s wrong, though, in her belief that all — or even very many — of the law’s detractors are so committed in their opposition that they’re willing to suffer a government shutdown and default just to protest the three-year-old law. Instead, what most critics of the law want is to elect more Republicans who will work to repeal, amend or replace the law; in other words, they want democracy, not anarchy.

During Noem’s first run for Congress in 2010, the dominant sound bite of her campaign was “Sorry, Nancy.” She said it flippantly at the end of her television commercials to indicate she would not be a slave to the liberal agenda of then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, as Noem alleged her Democratic opponent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin was.

Noem has now come full circle. She is more of a slave to the radical tea-party agenda than Herseth Sandlin ever was to the Pelosi liberals (Herseth Sandlin, after all, voted against the House version of the Affordable Care Act and was viewed by many in her party as not liberal enough).

The next general election is more than a year away, and the shutdown could be a distant memory by then. And since we do not advocate one-issue voting, our own assessment of Noem’s service to South Dakota and the nation (we endorsed her 2012 re-election after opposing her in 2010) will not be based on the shutdown alone.

But on this one issue today, we have to say “Sorry, Kristi,” because she’s just flat-out wrong.