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Wherein I Express My First Post-Election Disagreement With Senator-Elect Heitkamp PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   
Saturday, 17 November 2012 06:34

HeidiHeitkampNorth Dakotans participated in what ABC News has described as America's "biggest upset" election last week when we smartly elected former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp to the United States Senate.  While the election of Heitkamp saved North Dakotans (and America) from one of the two teabaggers on North Dakota's federal ticket this year, it has not -- apparently -- saved us from some of the right wing talking points we expect to hear from right wing crackpots.  Witness:

HEITKAMP HITS GOP, DEMS ON ENERGY TALK: North Dakota Sen.-elect Heidi Heitkamp touted herself as between the political parties on energy issues last night on Current TV’s “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.” “The problem is you’ve got people on the right who say it’s all about fossil fuels, whether it’s coal, oil or gas. You got people on the left who say tomorrow you can turn on the windmills and that will get us the electricity we need,” Heitkamp said. “They’re both wrong. We need to have a balanced approach. We also need to think sensibly about how we move this energy in the future.”

Politico.com

Okay, so what is wrong with this picture?  Heitkamp suggests she wants a balanced approach, and that's great. We can agree on that. But then she says there are people on the right who are wrong and people on the left who are wrong.  First she describes the people on the right who are wrong:  "[Y]ou've got people on the right who say it's all about fossil fuels, whether it's coal, oil or gas."  This is an actual fact. It is not hyperbole.  There are ten thousand white pickups in Western North Dakota at this very moment being driven by people whom Heitkamp is accurately describing.  

But then you cut to the other side that Heitkamp says needs to be balanced against all the people in the white pick-ups:  "You got people on the left who say tomorrow you can turn on the windmills and that will get us the electricity we need."  This is simply not fact.  This is hyperbole.  But it's not just any hyperbole; it's right-wing, Fox News, Harold Hamm-ian hyperbole. It's the kind of stuff Republicans and the oil men who've bought them are using to try to make people scared of those radical -- though non-existent -- tree-hugging, Democratic bogeymen. Well, Senator Heitkamp, those radical Democrats are a figment of the right-wing's collective imagination. And they've apparently crawled under your bed, too.

Seriously... I've never met someone on the left who thinks you can power down coal plants tomorrow and run America's electrical grid on wind energy. Never. I've never heard of such a person. People "on the left" -- from my experience -- think we should be working on improving clean energy because (a) some day this planet is going to run out of fossil fuels (that's just a reality); (b) burning fossil fuels is hard on the planet, regardless of whether you believe in science; and (c) burning fossil fuels is hard on humans. Thinking about those facts might be a little hard on Kevin Cramer's brain, but that's just because it's about math and science. But Heitkamp gets this. She has to. She's pretty smart.

But, for discussion's sake, let's just pretend for a moment that Heitkamp has heard from some rogue nutbag on the left who thinks this. Is it fair to suggest that the balance we (or she) should try to strike is between the dense crowd of coal, oil and gas cheerleaders who exist in large numbers all over the country and some wayward, isolated, left-wing crackpot whose foil hat needs to be re-sized? Do you really think those two groups exist in fairly comparable depth and width?  I assure you they don't. 

No. It's not like that. This is not a fair characterization of the two sides in the real-world discussion. It would be far more realistic (and less hyperbolic) to say the balance needs to be between coal, oil and gas cheerleaders and people who think we should try to get more aggressive in working away from our addiction or dependence on fossil fuels. This "turn on the windmills" language is completely unhelpful.

I get frustrated when Democrats do this. This is basic "Don't Think of an Elephant" stuff. We can show how rational our positions are without inadvertently helping the anti-science Kevin Cramer's of the world. My suggestion to Heitkamp is that next time she talks about being reasonable or striking a balance, she should try to avoid adopting right-wing talking points when comparing people on the right to people on the left. She should be able to show how reasonable she is without perpetuating false Fox News/Republican messages.

Just my $.02.


Comments (12)add comment

Marty again (same guy as the other two) said:

...
Amen, Chet. I commented earlier about how Heidi negotiated the boogeymen issue by having Clinton talk about how she sued his Forest Service - as a way of assuring people that she'll fight against the EPA and environmentalist boogeymen - rather than addressing the fact that they aren't really boogeymen. That was okay.

This is not.
 
November 17, 2012
Votes: +1

nimrod's password said:

...
It feeds into Christmann's characterization of Brad Crabtree as a radical environmentalist. But, in NDGOP's banana oil republic of Hammistan, any mention of conservation values automatically classifies you as a radical. And a boogeyman. Personally, I don't have any experience with jackbooted EPA thugs going through my garbage, taking away my paper towels, plugging my car's tailpipe with a potato, or forcing me to eat organic beef. Hmmm, Gov. Art Link = Radical Environmentalist?
 
November 17, 2012
Votes: +0

What the Heck said:

...
Perhaps she is expressing her true beliefs. She is, afterall, good friends with Hoeven. She recently stated 'Hoeven gets it'.

I voted for her, but only because the alternative was unthinkable.

My prediction is she will vote on issues in lockstep with Hoeven. Time will tell if that is good or bad.
 
November 17, 2012
Votes: +0

big jake said:

...
We had no choice in this election. Heidi now has to demonstrate that election year politics is trumped by knowledge, beliefs and facts and not pandering to the right just to get elected.

She did win and maybe she did need those few votes that made her appear to be "one of them", although I doubt it. It was the women's vote plus the Native American vote coupled a personal dislike for Berg that won the election. It is now time to step up.
I have never heard any of my liberal friends or any left wingers anywhere even suggest that we can shut down coal burning. One would have to be either stupid or nuts or both the buy into that nonsense. It is just more right wing spin.

I have some question as to where her loyalties lie. Can she think for herself? She is certainly smart enough. But that is not enough. She needs to seek more information and not rely on those "experts" if we can find our way out of the dilemma that both parties have put us in. Thus far, I have seen nothing that would indicate that she is willing to do that. If we have just another modern democrat, nothwithstanding the really bad potential of more "Berg's", we may slow down the rate of decline but not the economic decline. She does represent that last of the Guy faction of democrats. She could do better and I hope she does.
 
November 17, 2012
Votes: +1

Chet's dopelgangbanger said:

One more thing...
Imagine you're a union member who lives in Beulah or Hazen and who works in a power plant in North Dakota's coal country and you are constantly bombarded with this kind of absurd message. And then it's even reinforced by a leading Democrat. Two years from now you're standing in your polling place deciding whether to vote for the DemNPL candidate you haven't had a chance to meet or a Republican you've never met. All you (think you) know is that people "on the left" want to shut down your employer tomorrow. Who are you going to vote for?

Democrats' message should not be formulated using misleading/false messaging designed to hurt Democrats.

Frustrating.
 
November 17, 2012
Votes: +5

big jake said:

...
It is our own fault if we do not control the message. It is reflective of our party's timidity----so afraid to offend the presumed conservative North Dakota voters. The voters are a reflection of decades of our failure to stand for something. We are---the people of North Dakota are paying the price for this failure. NOBODY IS TRYING TO SHUT THE COAL INDUSTRY DOWN!!!!!!! It is pure Rush B.S.
Nobody is attempting to turn the country over to the EPA. Nobody is attempting to confiscate the wealth, no matter how it was gained, of the rich. Nobody is creating death panels for Granny although Berg, Hoeven, Cramer, Gov. Jack and the big time Republicans are trying seriously to throw Granny under the bus and they brag about it if you listen closely. It is damn sure time to stand up for what we believe and return to America as Intended.
 
November 17, 2012
Votes: +2

j5mc said:

...
I don't think Heidi will be circumspect about energy. Her background on the issue is pretty clear, and it's probably easier politically to tout the cheap solution, rather than the deep tinkering with taxes and subsidies needed to make diversified energy resources economically competitive with fossil fuels.

I'd very much like to be surprised, though.
 
November 18, 2012 | url
Votes: +0

B & C said:

...
Heidi will be infuriating many times in coming years because she will continue to run way right even against what she believes if she thinks there are votes to be found. She obviously ran a phony well right of center campaign, but if she hadn't we would all have to deal with Senator Berg. Frightening....Since the ND media was all in the tank for Berg and other wing nuts she did what she had to do...I get that.....In many ways she is like Romney in that she says what she needs to to get elected and has no core principals that can be discerned or relied upon. It worked for her, for Romney not so much...If you're a ND DEM plan on being pissed off at her public BS about the democratic positions and the President. Hopefully, there will be a couple votes she will make in the next 6 years, say for a progressive justice, that will make dems happy they held their nose and voted for her. But nobody should have any illusions that she believes (rightly) that she has the dems vote no matter what she does and therefore she will stomp on the dems and publicly trash progressive issues to try and keep her slim electoral majority in tact..... The right will be pissed forever because they think they had that seat in the bag before the election and won't get over that. The left will be pissed because she will rhetorically play the right wing rhetoric game so she can pretend that she is an "independent" thinker. I am glad she got elected considering the alternatives. And she did what she had to do....But let's be honest....She will never be a Burdick, Guy, Link, Sinner, Dorgan, or Conrad in terms of being a solid lawmaker with a backbone....Except that and maybe you can stomach all her phoniness and calculated maneuvers now and in the coming years.....
 
November 19, 2012
Votes: +1

nimrod's password said:

...
I don't think you can call HH a right-winger for being "for" the Keystone XL Pipeline. It's easy to be "for" the Keystone XL Pipeline. (1) The Obama Administration never said "No," it said it would not act on Keystone's application for approval until the application was complete; and (2) Federal authority over the Keystone XL Pipeline is limited to State Dept review -- and the Senate is not a player.
 
November 19, 2012
Votes: +0

big jake said:

...
B & C, your take on this is pretty accurate, at least from my perspective and experience. My concern is what she knows about the real issues of the day. Of the latter players you mentioned, Dorgan had the most insight but even that was stilted by electioneering or pandering to the right. Conrad never hid where is convictions or lack thereof lied. Don't get me wrong here, they all had some basic understanding of the need for our government to perform certain tasks---social security being one.

As to the ag issues and they are critical, none had any more understanding then was fed to them by experts. In that light, they presided over the greatest exodus of farmers and the communities that we supported by them, since the great Depression. None had any understanding nor did they want it, of the relationship that the physical economy has with the success of our entire economic system. Heidi has even less. She is a bureaucratic lawyer. Underneath that, I beleive that she has a good heart that is lacking in the knowledge that could make her effective.

I will support her in spite of knowing what she is likely to do. Sad but little alterative exists. Hoeven will always be weak but Cramer is a fool that needs careful watching. Bad for North Dakota and worse for the nation.
 
November 19, 2012
Votes: +0

Jim said:

...
This is a very good analysis by Chet. I agree with it totally. I also know that Heidi's reservoir of good will among Democrats was very very deep.It allowed those of us who have always struggled with her energy positions to not just vote for her, but even work for her. But she's running it down near the bottom now and she needs to refill it. I think she will. She will make many good votes and do many good things for North Dakota. Those of us who disagree with her on energy/environmental issues need to be talking to her constantly about those issues. She's a listener and a learner. She just needs to hear from us.
 
November 20, 2012
Votes: +0

left coast watching said:

Chief of Perspective
Nice call Chet. Her choice of language is, of course, already about softening and diminishing the volume of campaign contributions that she must raise and wager war with, against the contributions contributed to her political opponents---in her next election cycle. We need to get money out of politics so that our representatives can speak in truths... vs. election strategies.
 
November 20, 2012
Votes: +1

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