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Kristi Noem doubles down on killing her dog

It is not kicking South Dakota governor Kristi Noem when she’s down to point out how she insists upon going on the Sunday shows and arguing that not only was she right to shoot and kill a 14-month-old dog, but that she’s willing and eager to do the same to Joe Biden’s dogs. 

To hear Noem tell it, she’s the only one with the guts to do what needs to be done — unlike, say, Mike Pence on January 6, to use a completely random example — and all the recent criticism of her is just “twisted spin” from the fake-news media who attacked the governor by . . . quoting Noem’s own autobiography. 

Liberal media bias is real, but it isn’t the bogeyman that causes all problems for all elected Republicans.

To Salvage Her Reputation, Kristi Noem Floats Killing Joe Biden’s Dog

Last week, I pointed out that our politics is dominated by two extremes. Noem shot and killed the family’s 14-month-old dog, a wirehaired pointer named “Cricket,” because it had tried to bite her — a fairly common situation that many dog owners experience — and on the other hand, we had Biden oblivious to Cujo, er, Commander in the White House, attempting to eat Secret Service agents.

Mitt Romney doesn’t look so bad now, does he, Gail Collins?

Noem, oblivious to the concept of stopping digging when you’re already in a hole, chose to appear on CBS News’ Face the Nation Sunday and seemed to think she could salvage her reputation by arguing that America’s politicians just haven’t killed enough dogs:

MARGARET BRENNAN: You have been rumored to be a potential vice presidential candidate, as you know. And former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said: “Killing the dog and then writing about it ended any possibility of her being picked as V.P.”

You talk multiple times about it. In fact, at the end of the book, you say the very first thing you would do if you got to the White House that was different from Joe Biden, is you’d make sure Joe Biden’s dog was nowhere on the grounds. ‘Commander, say hello to Cricket.’

Are you doing this to try to look tough? Do you still think that you have a shot at being a V.P.?

GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: Well, number one, Joe Biden’s dog has attacked 24 Secret Service people. So, how many people is enough people to be attacked and dangerously hurt before you make a decision on a dog and what to do with it?

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, he’s not living at the White House anymore.

GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: That’s — that’s a question that the president should be held accountable to.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You’re saying he should be shot?

GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: That what’s the president should be accountable to, is, what is — what is the number?

And I would say, about Republicans criticizing me, these are the same Republicans have criticized me during COVID. They’ve criticized me when I have made other decisions in South Dakota to protect my state. And my state today is extremely happy and thriving. We’re doing well.

Look, just because ever since the State of the Union Address, people have been calling Biden “Old Yeller,” doesn’t mean he should be sho—oh, wait, Noem is saying that Commander the dog should be shot. Okay, that makes more sense. Secret Service, you can stand down for a moment.

But “Biden’s dog ought to be shot, too,” is not the slam-dunk reputation-salvaging argument that Noem thinks it is.

You can argue that the Bidens deserved more scrutiny and criticism than they received for the overdue departures of Commander and Major to some farm where they can run around more freely.

Noem is correct that back in February, USA Today reported that unsealed Secret Service records “showed bites to agents’ arms, hands, thighs, back, wrists, elbows, waist, chest and an agent’s ammunition magazine pouch. At least 11 of the incidents required medical attention. . . . In one case last summer, surveillance footage . . . showed the dog racing at the agent and tackling him to the ground. He received a deep laceration that required stitches. East Wing tours were suspended that June day while maintenance crews mopped up the puddles of blood near the Booksellers Room.”

As I asked at the time, “If you worked in the White House, how many times would you need to see the president’s dog bite a Secret Service agent or other staffer before you concluded there was a major problem and that a large, aggressive dog shouldn’t be stuck in the White House? Because 25 times feels like a lot.”

But don’t take it from me. Jill Abramson, a former executive editor of the New York Times concluded, “As I waded through the gory details of all these biting incidents, my empathy for the Bidens faded. Put plainly, these documents are a harrowing narrative of pet ownership in high places run dangerously amok. Two dogs belonging to the same family were both serial biters and had to be exiled. At some point, the trouble is not the animals — it’s the owners.”

But Biden’s dogs are, as far as we know, happier out on some farm than living in the de facto museum that is the White House.

What we’ve seen from Noem over the past week is a lot of reflexive Republican defenses that simply don’t apply to this circumstance.

Within a day or two, Noem was urging anyone willing to listen, “Don’t believe the #fakenews media’s twisted spin.” Except this wasn’t anybody’s spin. These were all quotes from Noem’s own memoir!

In the book, Noem also wrote that she met North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un while serving in Congress on the House Armed Services Committee and canceled a meeting with French president Emmanuel Macron. To the best anyone can determine, neither claim is true, and Noem didn’t help herself during her interview with Brennan:

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, you write about lessons learned in leadership, and you bring up some specific incidents I want to ask you about.

You talk about meeting some world leaders and one specific one — quote — “I remember when I met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. I’m sure he underestimated me, having no clue about my experience staring down little tyrants. I have been a children’s pastor after all.”

Did you meet Kim Jong-un?

GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: Well, you know, as soon as this was brought to my attention, I certainly made some changes and looked at this — this passage.

And I have met with many, many world leaders. I have traveled around the world. As soon as it was brought to my attention, we went forward and have made some edits. So I’m glad that this book is being released in a couple of days, and that those edits will be in place, and that people will — will have the updated version.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So you did not meet with Kim Jong-un? That’s what you’re saying.

GOVERNOR KRISTI NOEM: No, I have met with many, many world leaders, many world leaders. I have traveled around the world, I think I have talked extensively in this book about my time serving in Congress, my time as governor, before governor, some of the travels that I have had.

I’m not going to talk about my specific meetings with world leaders, I’m just not going to do that. This anecdote shouldn’t have been in the book. And as soon as it was brought to my attention, I made sure that that was adjusted.

And yet, later in the interview, Noem insisted, “I’m not retracting anything.” If you’re taking sections out of your book in the next printing, you are indeed retracting things.

“Did you meet Kim Jong-un?” is a yes or no question. And the only reason Brennan is asking about it is because Noem wrote that she had done so in her own book.

“This anecdote shouldn’t have been in the book. And as soon as it was brought to my attention, I made sure that that was adjusted.” As soon as it was brought to her attention? She’s the narrator of the audiobook version! It’s not uncommon for celebrities, politicians, and elected officials to use ghostwriters in their books. It is uncommon for them to act like they didn’t read their own memoir until it was published.

The problem here is either A) Noem is not all that sharp or B) Noem thought that this anecdote would make her look tough and resolute to Trump as he contemplated his running-mate options, completely miscalculated, and is now desperately flailing for some sort of exculpatory counternarrative. There’s a laziness on display here, because, “It’s all the liberal media’s fault” just doesn’t fit when you’re the one who voluntarily told stories of puppy-killing and made false claims about meeting world leaders.

When somebody on the left gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar, he often tries to divert blame to someone on the right. Perhaps the most brazen example was Harvey Weinstein’s initial, “Okay, I was a sexually predatory monster for decades. Sorry. I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s. Remember, Wayne LaPierre is the real villain here” spin, but we more recently saw Khymani James — Mr. “Zionists don’t deserve to live” — complaining that his comments were taken out of context by “far-right agitators.” What’s the context in which “Zionists don’t deserve to live” doesn’t sound threatening?

Liberal media bias is a real phenomenon — pervasive, infuriating, a form of misleading the public that never seems to bug those who have turned “disinformation” into a professional crusade — but a lot of America’s most incompetent Republicans like to use it as a crutch. Kristi Noem’s got no one to blame but herself for the mess that she’s in.

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