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In US politics, foreign things are very suspicious ...

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(Read caption) Congressional campaign ad from South Dakota
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Via Andrew Sullivan comes a congressional campaign ad from South Dakota that has me laughing. And crying.

There, Republican Rep. Kristi Noem seems to hold a comfortable lead against Democrat challenger Matt Varilek, though her polling lead has shrunk of late.

Well, the South Dakota GOP has decided not to take any chances, and has rolled out a campaign ad attacking Mr. Varilek for his globe-trotting, carbon-trading, and corndog-eating ways (yes, corndogs). The video was uploaded to Youtube on October 17, and veered so close to parody in its depiction of Varilek's educational background and international travel that I called the South Dakota GOP to check if the video is legitimate (it is.)

Will the video have an impact on the race? I don't know. But there is a kernel of serious concern for me in the fact that international experience and a concern for the environment are being painted as suspicious and perhaps dangerous in a campaign for national office.

Varilek apparently worked at the Biosphere II, "known as an incubator of radical environmental ideas," the ad warns, (a Monitor article in 1987 called it "a sophisticated laboratory to study Earth ecology, perhaps yielding clues on such phenomena as the 'greenhouse effect'  and the impact of creeping deserts in Africa"; in 2009, staff writer Pete Spotts wrote about how scientists there were studying how rising temperatures could kill trees.)


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