Al Novstrup is a remarkably clever individual. Recognizing his inability to win an honest policy debate, he knows how to deploy personal attacks to cloak his own dishonesty and meanness.
On the radio this week, Novstrup has mocked me in a variety of ways, claiming I talk more than I listen (um, Al, have you ever listened to my podcasts with Libby Skarin, Randy Seiler, Lance Russell, Ken Santema, Bob Mercer, and Drew Dennert?) and that I don’t love America, free enterprise, or freedom (see 1:50 in this audio).
But rather than go point-by-point on Novstrup’s every childish jibe, let’s go right to how Al Novstrup attacks my wife and family.
In his worst personal attack yet this year, in response to Adam St. Paul’s question on Dakota Broadcasting Thursday about differences between Novstrup and me, Novstrup claims (at 2:35 in the audio) that a relevant difference between himself and me is our employment history: “I’ve had the same job for 24 years; Cory’s had the same job for two months.”
First, Novstrup again gets his facts wrong: I’ve had my current full-time job for three months.
In addition, I’ve worked as an independent journalist for thirteen years. And I’ve worked in education in a variety of capacities, as a teacher, tutor, coach, speech judge, and now educational technologist and faculty trainer, for 29 years. Novstrup tried teaching, bailed after three years, fixed computers, and now runs go-kart tracks.
I don’t really want to have a pissing contest about whose job is better than whose (because, come on, work is work, right?). I don’t think Novstrup wants to have a serious, critical debate about which of our careers better prepares us for the hard work of researching, writing, critically discussing, and educating the public about policy.
I will point out the insult Novstrup throws here, not just at me (I expect insults when I challenge Republicans) but at my wife.
Ten years ago, my wife decided she wanted to become a pastor. She did seminary online, so she could also stay home and raise our young daughter. I helped by doing my mostly graduate assistantship at DSU, which paid the bills and allowed me to be home to help with our daughter as well, then teaching French in Spearfish. I loved that job in Spearfish, and the Spearfish School District seemed satisfied with me.
But in my second year there, the day that my principal gave me a positive evaluation and said he’d recommend the board hire me back for year three, I told him I’d have to leave.
Why would I leave a job and a town I loved? Because my wife had to go to Spokane for a year for a pastoral internship. Because after that, she would have to spend a semester in St. Paul on campus to get her Master of Divinity. (I’ve always thought my wife mastered divinity, but now she has a piece of paper to prove it.) Because after that and for the rest of our lives, she will get her call to preach God knows where (I use that phrase intentionally), and I will go where she goes.
Besides, we have a daughter. We sacrificed to make sure that one or both of us could be home to raise her as best we can. When she was younger, we didn’t really want both of us to be out at full-time jobs. We didn’t want her stuck in daycare or walking home alone from elementary school. We wanted to be there for her.
So when my wife got her job as a pastor, we said, “Preaching pays better than teaching!” and I stayed out of full-time employment. I supplemented our income with blogging (thank you, readers, for helping!), judging, subbing, and other flexible part-time gigs, but my main job was child patrol.
Our daughter is older now. She can handle more independence. We decided this year that we could afford to have both of us out of the house full-time. The right job came along at just the right time, and I’m now giving my educational and technological skills to Presentation College for a reasonable paycheck.
So yes, among the many things I do, I’ve held my current “regular” job for three months. That job status results from all the decisions my wife and I have made together about her career and her daughter.
So when Al Novstrup mocks the length of my current full-time job, he’s really mocking my wife and me and the decisions we’ve made for our family.
In his Thursday interview, Novstrup repeated his trope about how he’s always respectful and disagrees without being disagreeable. His persistent and specious personal attacks on my family show that he epitomizes the very behavior he says he disdains. Al Novstrup may be rhetorically clever, but he is also disagreeable and disrespectful.