JOYEUX NOEM: A Trumpist governor was under fire!

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2020

She responded as shown: South Dakota is a small-population state. 

(Estimated population last year, 885,000. Only four states were smaller.)

Within that small-population state, Governor Kristi Noem—she's just turned 49—has had a very successful political career.

She doesn't hail from a political family. Inherited connections and other family advantages don't seem to have fueled her career. 

Her father was killed in a farming accident when she was 22. As a result, she was forced to take over the family business, a "medium-sized farm and ranch operation."

(“I had hoped that I would be able to farm with him,” Noem is quoted saying in this fascinating profile.  “But when my dad passed away, it kind of changed everything.”)

Her political career proceeded from there. She was elected to the South Dakota legislature in 2006, at the age of 34. In 2010, she won South Dakota's lone statewide congressional seat. Along with South Carolina freshman  member Tim Scott, she was instantly named to a spot within the House Republican leadership.

After serving four terms in the House, she was elected governor of South Dakota in 2018. According to the leading authority on the topic, "she is the first woman in South Dakota history to hold that office."

Governor Noem is true political talent. That said, she's also been one of the Trumpiest governors in the nation during the current alleged pandemic.

She has refused to impose a mask mandate. More strikingly, she let this summer's Sturgis Motorcycle Rally proceed apace. Eventually, headlines like this pair began to appear in major news orgs, in this case in the October 18 Washington Post:

How the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may have spread coronavirus across the Upper Midwest 
Within weeks of the gathering that drew nearly half a million bikers, the Dakotas, along with Wyoming, Minnesota and Montana, were leading the nation in new coronavirus infections per capita

The governor had been one of the Trumpiest. Now she was being slammed. 

As of November 18, Governor Noem had finally heard just about enough of this guff. She held a press event in which she pushed back against her critics and their criticisms. 

In our view, her obvious political talent was on full display this day. On the other hand, here's the nugget of what she said in self-defense:

NOEM (11/18/20): Across the country and around the globe, cases [of Covid-19] are increasing. Over the past week, cases are on the rise in 48 states.

Some have said that my refusal to mandate masks is a reason why our cases are rising here in the state of South Dakota, and that is not true.

Others have said that my refusal to advance harsh restrictions like lockdowns is another one of the reasons why our cases are rising, and that is also not true.

There are 41 states that have some kind of a mask mandate. Cases are on the rise in 39 of those 41 states.

Now, some in the media have said that South Dakota is the worst in the world right now, and that is absolutely false. I'd encourage you to look at the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. There you'll see that there are other states with far higher new confirmed cases per one hundred—one thousand people, compared to South Dakota.

To watch the entire presser, click here. The passage we've posted starts at roughly 11:15.

Our view? If you watch that chunk of that tape, you'll be looking at Governor Noem's pure political talent. But what about the claims she makes in the passage we've posted?

On our scorecard, some of the claims in that passage were misleading, perhaps clownishly so. On our scorecard, the final somewhat fuzzy claim—the one about the other states with "far higher new confirmed cases"— was hard to square with  existing data.

That statement sounded reassuring. We're not sure we know what it meant.

The claim we've posted in bold strikes us as basically false. That really wasn't what "some in the media" had been saying about South Dakota in the previous days and weeks. Knowingly or otherwise, the governor seemed to have erected a straw man, then seemed to have knocked it down.

In a slightly more rational world, obvious questions would arise in the wake of a presser like that. For today, we'll focus on two questions: 

Did Governor Noem believe the things she said that day? Also, in what ways did mainstream news orgs respond to the claims she'd advanced?

One also might wonder about this: 

To what extent did the people of South Dakota believe Noem's claims were accurate? 

We ask that because, even as Noem was making those statements, her state had the nation's second highest weekly death rate from Covid-19. Indeed, South Dakota's weekly death rate was apparently exceeded by only one developed nation around the entire world.

Do politicians like Governor Noem believe the things they say about such life-and-death concerns? Also, how well are their statements fact-checked?

Beyond that, what do citizens end up believing about such vital matters? What do they end up doing, or perhaps failing to do? With a special focus on Noem's press conference, we'll be examining these topics for the rest of the week.

With the Christmas season approaching, should South Dakotans be saying Joyeux Noem? Or should this possibly be a case of Caveat Rancher and Farmer? 

How well had major news orgs performed? And also this:

With tribal true belief widespread and engrained, does that final part of the puzzle even matter any more?

Tomorrow: What "some in the media" had actually said


23 comments:

  1. Raw political talent is what Somerby sees in Noem? And then proceeds to describe her erecting of straw men, her false statements (arising from delusion? lies? stupidity? propaganda? Somerby will no doubt tell us which he leans toward), her slavish devotion to Trump’s Covid denialism. What exactly is her specific talent here, other than getting herself elected and lying? Her press conference that Somerby linked to hardly makes her seem politically talented; aside from the lies, it was boring.

    Besides, South Dakota is so massively Republican (8 out of 70 House members are Democrats, 3 out of 35 Senators are Democrats) that it isn’t clear that it takes much talent to get elected as a Republican there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For Somerby, young + attractive = talented.

      Her background as a rancher/farmer doesn't matter to Somerby, even though that gives her credibility in the minds of voters in her state and a broad constituency. With a middle-sized ranch, she would have been wealthy enough to be a local force, but not dominate others. That is the legacy her father gave her as a political leg up. Community connections.

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  2. The Sturgis rally generates around $800 million in revenue annually, in a state that is not particularly diversified in its economy. It doesn't matter what the Governor believed about covid -- it would have been very hard to inflict that kind of loss on the businesses that depend on the Sturgis rally in order to make a profit for the year, like other seasonal businesses.

    Governor Noem sacrificed the additional covid cases in the midwest, and the financial impact they created, in order to keep her own state financially solvent. That is a difficult decision, but it demeans both her and the state of South Dakota to suggest that she didn't make a calculated decision but believed the nonsense being spread by Trump and the right about covid.

    There has been too much overlooking of the part that economics has played in the refusal of the right to participate in covid control measures. Those measures hurt businesses and there is a calculus on the right that weighs the cost in human lives and wellness against the prosperity of local businesses. We might not make the Republican decision, but pretending that everyone is crazy and believes odd things is just plain wrong.

    Somerby needs to grow up and discuss the realities on the ground, not try to convince us that the entire Republican party is as crazy as Trump, to explain away their decision-making during this pandemic. They chose money over people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obviously, many small businesses have been deeply impacted by COVID-19 and the restrictions that many (mostly Democratic) governors put into place. Bars, restaurants and the tourist industry have severely impacted.
      However, had Trump and Republicans in the Senate actually cared about the lives and livelihood of those who run and are employed by those businesses, they could have passed a second major stimulus package that would have supported them when they were asked to shut down or strictly limit their operations.
      Instead, McConnell and Trump first thought the pandemic was only going to hit "Blue" states so therefore never offered any real support, and Trump pushed the "resist" movement in states with Democratic governors, in hopes of gaining political advantage.
      After COVID-19 began spreading to the so-called "red" states, the governors (like Kristi Noem) were too stubborn to admit that they had been wrong, so they took to lying about the severity of the situation after they had seen how well it worked for Trump.
      Now, with a Democrat coming into the White House, McConnell and bunch of Senate Republicans have decided that it's time to worry about the deficit and it will be almost impossible to pass the type of stimulus needed to support those small businesses. McConnell's goal will be to tank the economy as much as possible to ensure that Biden is a one-term president.

      Delete
    2. Somerby mostly infantilizes Republicans. When he isn’t treating them as misunderstood salt-of-the-earth types who must be delusional when they espouse beliefs he doesn’t understand, he is claiming that they are helplessly driven to vote for Republicans because liberals are mean to them.

      Of course, his view of liberals is no less cartoonish, claiming that they are all vapid elitists who are everything republicans say they are.

      Delete
  3. "With the Christmas season approaching, should South Dakotans be saying Joyeux Noem?"

    This is the only reason Somerby is talking about South Dakota. He likes the pun, even though it is pretty obvious and not particularly clever.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Another C-Span caller with wrong info (obtained from Newsmax):

    "A C-SPAN caller from North Carolina claimed on Tuesday that pharmaceutical companies are plotting to include a tracking device in COVID-19 vaccines.

    “I’m 71 years old, basically in pretty good health,” a caller named Mark told C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. “I don’t really have any problem taking the vaccine except that I’m hearing of the possibility of them including a barcoded tracking device that will be a part of the vaccination and they say the reason for that, if it’s true, would be to better get effective results with respect to the virus and the vaccination.”

    ReplyDelete
  5. Noem may have presidential aspirations, but Republicans are too addicted to Trump’s spittle-flecked ragefests to vote for some wonkish-seeming dullard like Noem or Tom Cotton.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't see Noem as a Presidential candidate. She's another Sarah Palin.

      OTOH Tom Cotton says the kind of things Trump does, but says them calmly. To a Trump supporter like me, that's appealing.

      Delete
    2. Playing to white grievance is the only GOTV strategy Republicans have remaining.

      Delete
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