Someone in the audience at today’s Senate forum here in Aberdeen tried to play gotcha with Senator-Elect Susan Wismer, and played it poorly.
After Wismer gave Brown County’s Republican delegation for not backing their words about education and health care with deeds, a question floated to the moderator asking Wismer why she “testified to the Legislature that you opposed Measure 15 in 2012 that would have funded education and Medicaid. Why did you oppose that?”
Wismer was puzzled:
Her puzzlement is justified. The question is bogus. Wismer advocated IM 15 in this October 29, 2012, letter to the editor in the Rapid City Journal (I copy in full, for absolute clarity):
We will be voting on Initiated Measure 15, a sales tax increase dedicated to K-12 education and Medicaid, in a few days. I support the proposal.
Living within our means is a virtue, as the Governor has reminded us many times. So is truth-telling. As a legislator and member of Appropriations Committee, I have a responsibility to tell the truth to the state’s citizens: We cannot sustain our lowest tax burden in the country and do for education and Medicaid what must be done without an additional revenue stream.
The anti IM15 group is using a bushel basket of code words that create distrust among voters. They direct attention to hospitals rather than the nursing homes and community support providers who depend on Medicaid and are struggling to keep their doors open.
They omit the fact that removing some of the pressure of underfunded education and Medicaid would allow the growth of normal sales taxes to be devoted to the serious concerns of infrastructure, public safety, and higher education.
They talk about “taking” money from taxpayers as if it would disappear, when we all know that every community in this state would benefit from investments in its schools and nursing homes.
If we allow ourselves to be brainwashed into masking our “F” in funding effort as “best business climate,” we are allowing those who benefit the most from this situation to hijack our votes to benefit themselves, and our state is the worse off for it [Rep. Susan Wismer, letter to the editor, Rapid City Journal, 2012.10.29].
On October 4, 2012, Rep. Wismer commented on Madville Times, the predecessor blog to Dakota Free Press, to register her support for IM 15.
Now the question referred to testimony to the Legislature. I invite the questioner or other intrepid readers to provide evidence from the Legislative Journals that Rep. Wismer may have at some point said something bad about IM 15. But my brief review of the record indicates that Wismer supported IM 15 and that today’s questioner was in error.
The questioner must be mistaken because initiatives do not go through a committee process, where testimony is taken. The problem with these moderator-mediated questions is there is no opportunity for clarification.
Ms. Wismer handled the erroneous gotcha question with poise and dignity. We’ll just say it was an error in the memory of whomever submitted the note.
Ms. Wismer is very pretty but she never, ever smiles. She is very down at the mouth at everything. A real glass-is-half empty kind of young woman. If she smiled and didn’t sound like Eeyore all the time she would probably be our first woman governor.
Indeed, Donald: the questioner should have provided more context: when did Wismer make the alleged statement?
The question perhaps shows the need for a moderator like me, who might know the answer or could pull up contextual and correcting information pretty quickly from the Internet.
Grudz, I noted Novstrup hardly ever smiled either. He should smile more and not be so down in the mouth. Maybe he could have been Noem’s running mate if he looked a little happier.
You are righter than right, Ms. Geelsdottir. Mr. Novstrup, the elder, would have made a fine choice indeed, his mumbling aside.
Novstrup looked nothing but dour during Saturday’s forum… as dour as I hear he looked last Wednesday in Pierre as he spent the entire day moaning about Democrats.
But Grudz, remember, your demand that Susan Wismer smile more conveys an unseemly sexism. Women do not exist to please your eye. Women have as much right to express their honest moods as you do, Grudz, and they don’t have to look any more fetching doing it than you do. Feel free to send a picture of yourself to make clear the unfair standard to which you hold women.
Mr. H, I believe Ms. Wismer is widely known in the legislatures for her dour countenance, as is Mr. Novstrup. I do not begrudge either of them that right. It is part of their being, as for some might be stumbling for words or mumbling. Nor have I made any demands on young Ms. Wismer, I only stated that she might be our Governor. I did not demand she do anything, in fact all of South Dakota could be considered to be fortunate that she did whatever it is that made her lose the Gubernatorial election by the biggest margin ever.
Yeah, but you know, Grudz, these days we have to be careful how we say things. Making observations on a young woman’s looks (and I know, for you, Grudz, pretty much every woman is a young woman) and suggesting the smiling more would be in her best interest sounds like the broader, “Come on, honey, smile for us” crassness that is symptomatic of the idea that women must always comport themselves in a way that pleases men. How much difference is there between saying, “If you’d have smiled more, you’d have won the election” and “If you’d have shown more leg and worn tighter blouses, you’d have won the election”? (Let’s avoid personal critiques and look just at the content of the langauge.)