Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

This Week in Schadenfreude: Banned

Just between us, Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD) is a reprehensible human being. There's the dog shooting, of course. Reasonable people can disagree as to whether "that's how things are done on the farm" or not, but what is much less open to debate is the apparent fact that she acted in a fit of anger, without exploring all possible options. And what is not open to debate at all is that she had more than a decade to reflect on what she'd done, and decided... that the story was something to brag about in order to burnish her brand and score political points. We cannot help but notice that, in most contexts, bragging about the killing of animals is a sign that a person is a psychopath.

Of course, it's not just the dog incident. Noem is also an enthusiastic practitioner of the old political trick of scapegoating one group or another, so as to increase her own power. For anyone studying for the SAT at home, that's called demagoguery. And one of her favorite targets is Native Americans. After all, they are not white, and they are much more visible in South Dakota than any other non-white group. Her recent favorite line of attack has been to assert, without evidence, that the nine tribal groups of South Dakota are in cahoots with Mexican cartels, so as to smuggle drugs and guns from Mexico to South Dakota. Exactly how they are doing this without, say, transporting the illegal stuff across state roads that are under Noem's control, and that are her responsibility to secure, is never explained. In any event, this is out-and-out racist. The message is clear as day: "These darker-skinned groups are all working together against you, white-skinned South Dakotans!"

That's not her only well-worn bit, either. Another favorite, when it comes to slurring the Natives, is her claim that test scores on reservations lag those of non-reservation students because Native American parents don't care about education and "aren't there" for their kids. That expert assessment comes, incidentally, from someone who struggled to finish her poli sci (not education) degree at South Dakota State University (which, by the way, has an acceptance rate of 86.1%). We don't begrudge people who get the best education they can get, depending on their personal circumstances. But people who attend glass universities should not be throwing stones, is what we're saying.

It is not going to shut Noem up, of course, but the nine tribal groups have banded together to take symbolic action against the Governor. As of yesterday, every single one of them has exercised their right, as semi-autonomous nations, to ban Noem from tribal lands. That means that South Dakota's own governor is no longer legally allowed to visit roughly one-fifth of the acreage in the state. Good enough for her.

Perhaps the more fitting punishment, however, is that Noem has done and said all these reprehensible things, and her reward is... she's governor of the 47th most populous state, and one that has virtually no impact on anything outside the state. And once her second, and current, term is up, she won't even be that. She's completely blown her chance to be a national figure, and so she will get to spend the rest of her days (after Jan. 2027) appearing on second-tier right-wing networks like OAN and The Blaze, and wondering where it all went wrong—basically the 2020s' answer to Sarah Palin. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates