Kristi Noem’s Book Tour From Hell

Calling the rollout and abruptly cancelled tour for South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem’s recent book No Going Back an unmitigated disaster would be a charitable act. How she thought bragging about questionable decisions involving puppies and goats and making up things about her career that seem not to have happened in a book, then going on the road and fighting with interviewers about it would lock down the Vice-Presidential nod she so covets is an mystery of the universe. Everything about Governor Noem lately is a great lesson on how to blow up a once-promising career. It’s a shame, but better for all of us—especially President Trump–to figure out she’s a mess sooner than later.

In what’s turned out to be a foreshadowing of sorts, Noem recently released a series of self-promotional ads—one in which she’s on a construction site touting her blueprint for South Dakota’s economic boom. The ad ends with what was meant to be a funny scene of her leaning on a 2” by 4” causing the under-construction house to partially collapse–much like the Governor’s chances as I write to be nominated to anything, much less Vice-President.

Governor Noem has always presented herself as a staunch supporter of limited government and pro-freedom, aligning herself closely with former President Trump and the MAGA movement, and in the eyes of many has walked the walk. However, the release of excerpts from her book, showed a completely different side of her, apparently well known in the Mount Rushmore State, but not so much outside of it.

In these excerpts, Governor Noem revealed that she had to shoot her 14-month-old puppy, Cricket, because it was deemed untrainable. This revelation was a blow to her credibility and support among animal lovers and dog owners, a demographic that is influential in politics. It is important to note that dogs have often been a key component of successful political campaigns—such as Vice President Nixon’s “Checkers” moment, which helped soften his image and win over the American people.

I’ll say something no one has said in decades: the Governor could have learned something from Nixon, as her “Cricket” moment has turned out very differently for her career.

Sadly, Noem failed to learn from successful campaigns of the past. Or failed to realize how much Americans of all political stripes love dogs (even the ones who eat chickens, apparently). Instead of addressing the issue head-on and acknowledging that, she avoided the backlash and criticism and in fact, got her back up about it, embarrassing herself on several national broadcasts whilst obviously thinking she was being a fighter. The lack of transparency and total tone-deafness on the issue only fueled the fire, forcing her to cancel the book tour, transforming her almost overnight from a seriously viable Vice-Presidential pick to the butt of many a late-night talk show.

Beyond the dog (and the goat, by the way. She whacked a goat around the same time as the hit on Cricket because she didn’t like the way it looked at her or something like that), Noem’s book contained other controversial anecdotes. For instance, she claimed to have met and “stared down” the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un. A wildly unusual meeting of this sort would be very easily confirmable yet so far no one’s been able to confirm it and she ain’t talkin’. So this too raised eyebrows and led to even more questions about the authenticity and credibility of her book and her desire and fitness to serve in higher office—or any office, for that matter.

In the realm of politics, it is crucial to address bad news and controversies directly. Taking responsibility for mistakes or misunderstandings and offering genuine explanations and / or apologies when you’ve made a mistake is essential, and now more than ever when technology has actually made it increasingly hard to lie and get away with it.

During TV interviews, she refused to acknowledge that many people took the story to show her as heartless. It is true that life on a farm is very different from that in a city. The rescue dog people take in is not the same as a dog or cat on a farm. Barn cats are almost feral in nature, and they serve a purpose on a farm, as do work dogs. But the governor’s reasons for shooting the puppy have been refuted by trained experts who work with hunting dogs like Noem’s. They said she should have trained, not killed, the pup, or found other options if she didn’t have the patience to train it. As for the goat…I don’t have words, sorry. Don’t shoot goats who look at you funny.

The Noem saga reminds us that ignoring or dismissing bad news only leads to greater disaster, especially in politics. Moving forward, candidates should heed Governor Noem’s mistakes and prioritize honesty, accountability, and transparency. Our modern-day system allows for nothing less.