More Ben

Dolor Sit Amet

Noem, or Dead Pets

For a moment, Kristi Noem almost had it all. The governor of my home state and pick-me prairie queen of the Rae Dunn MAGA movement had found a butthole-adjacent place on Donald Trump’s revolving-door list of most favored sycophants. Per report, she’s been hovering nearer and nearer to top of his campaign’s list of potential Vice Presidential nominees. And the closer she came to that somehow-coveted spot, the more I celebrated.

It’s not a surplus of state pride for the homeland I eagerly abandoned, and it’s not from a place of sympathy with her Facebook Nazi Mom political stances; Kristi Noem is a person almost wholly without redeeming quality, a true blight on a masochistic state thirsty for bro country hellfire. No, more than anything, I just wanted to be right.

I’ve been prognosticating a Trump-Noem ticket since at least 2021, and each episode of insistence that such a thing was possible has been routinely met with doubt by limelight-famished South Dakotans and those who somehow still underestimate the potential of a truly bold idiot. Time and time again, I was told it couldn’t happen. The doubt only solidified my belief.

Could it happen? Questions abound over whether the former president would or should pick a woman, a person of color, or a member of the my Republican old guard to balance out his schizoid cocaine grandpa vibe. We haven’t yet learned to throw out conventional logic when we take our seats at the gilded, cola-stained conference table to deal with our nation’s foremost unskilled narcissist. The last time the Trump campaign had to choose a Vice Presidential candidate, it was still the squirming, not-yet-molted nascent larva of the insectoid mega-horror it would become. Mike Pence was a conventional-logic sort of pick; if you’ve got an ostentatious and godless serial philanderer heading the ticket of what is ostensibly the party of the faithful, church-going common man, it stands to reason that you’d fare a better chance going in with puritanism’s last breath at your side.

But several years out from that hedonist human-Hutt hybrid peppering winks and asterisks on the implication that his evangelical human shield should be lynched for refusing to become the cornerstone of the American fascist movement, it doesn’t look like Trump has at all fallen in the estimations of the country’s most ardently-religious.

If anything, Trump the politician has built his platform out of contradictions. The ultra-wealthy, repeat immigrant-marrying New Yorker is the proud face of the country’s rural backwash hardcore nativist movement. For the length of his time in the big chair, Trump never seemed to even try to hide his incompetencies; he openly questioned the merits of attacking hurricanes with nuclear weapons, attempted to pursue the purchase of Greenland out of an apparent 19th-century view of foreign policy, clumsily tried to strongarm the Ukrainian government into interfering with the 2020 election when he had a perfectly good and ready Russia already at his disposal, and banned trans people from the military despite almost no calls for such a policy from even the most hardline conservative groups.

Trump’s inconsistency and apparent lack of ideology make it hard for non-believers to understand what about him it is that warrants the level of support he receives. And yet, his faithful have remained steadfast acolytes through four years of chaos, three and a half years of relative calm, and a primary cycle that afforded them a host of potential non-Trumps. Freely shown the full atlas of his festering open sores, the Trump wing of the Republican Party, that institution’s largest and most dominant body, has made clear that they’re with the host of The Apprentice until the end, reason be damned.

It’s revealing that by far the most unshakeable of Trump supporters, the Internet addict cultists who make up the Q-Anon movement, require an entire wide-reaching pedophile crusade mythos to be able to justify their attachment to the guy who spends his free time live tweeting Fox and Friends. Against all reason, against all evidence, they just like Trump.

And this is where Trump and Noem are simpatico. In her six years in office as Governor of South Dakota and eight years as singular United States Representative from the same mistake of a state, Noem’s accomplishments are limited and her controversies are many. She spent $462,000 in taxpayer money on a protective fence around the governor’s mansion in Pierre, an endeavor to shoo away interlopers in a city too small to support a Target. She thumbed the scales to land her daughter preferential treatment in her application for a real estate appraiser’s license, truly the West River equivalent of bargaining your kid into Harvard. She brought another daughter on as a policy analyst right out of college. Her vehicular manslaughter-addicted political allies keep going unpunished. She commissioned a weird scale model of Mount Rushmore with Trump’s face bolted onto it in an attempt to secure the right hand woman position through provision of masturbatory aids. She made national headlines by bravely deciding to do nothing about the coronavirus pandemic in an attempt to secure national clout. She then used her anti-mask mandate credentials to defend flouting the cancellation of a fireworks show at the real Mount Rushmore, despite the cancellation being related to drought and potential forest fire conditions and not pandemic-related precautions.

In a decade and a half of public service, Kristi Noem has routinely underperformed and given South Dakotans nothing to be proud of. With so little in the area of performance and so much baggage, it’s hard to understand why she’s worth keeping around. And yet, despite it all, South Dakotans truly love their cowboy mommy. In this way, she and Trump have been a match made in nightmare dystopian heaven.

And then she shot her fucking dog.

Not recently, but you know that. For all its attempts at making the national news, it’s true to South Dakota’s brand that this is Kristi Noem’s real moment in the spotlight, much like the local art, culture, and commerce that all pale beside ad campaigns like “Don’t Jerk and Drive” and the Noem administration’s “Meth: We’re on it”. The story made its rounds on the late night circuit and dominated news stories about the incumbent governor. Even Fox News’s stable of radioactive pundits is turning on the final boss of braindead Dakotan conservatism.

In the odd chance you haven’t heard the story, the gist is that a younger Kristi Noem took in a puppy who was too energetic and fun-loving to be good at hunting, so she took it out to a gravel pit and shot it in the head.

This information comes neither from the rumor mill nor from insider testimony but from advance copies of Noem’s own unpublished autobiography. In the home stretch of her life’s work and closer than she’s ever been to the dream of regularly standing within smelling distance of Donald Trump, she wholly and undeniably fucked it.

More than anything, this is an epitaph for my own narcissism, a chance to mourn the belief embedded deep in my South Dakotan heart that one of our own could truly fail upward forever.

I guess if you shoot enough animals in the head, you eventually shoot yourself in the foot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *