Calmes: Kristi Noem executed her dog. That's not the main reason she'd be a lousy vice president

People think I’m a cat lady, but that’s only because dogs are high-maintenance and for years I traveled often. I’m that person dog walkers dread: the dog lover who stops them so that I, a stranger, can give their hound some love.

Naturally, I was among the millions of people sickened on learning that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem once executed her puppy, Cricket, in a gravel pit, apparently for being puppy-like. And save some tears for the pet goat she next dragged to the killing field and shot, simply for being rambunctious and “rancid.”

Noem’s account in a coming memoir, apparently intended to show her guts, grit and gunplay as she auditions to be Donald Trump’s running mate, instead had the rare effect of bringing Americans of all political persuasions together — in revulsion at her.

“Kristi Noem manages to unify the left and right, the woke and Q-anon, the trans and homophobes unanimously around the proposition that she is a monster,” right-wing pundit Ann Coulter posted on X.

Trump hasn’t weighed in on Puppygate. (He did, however, provide a blurb for Noem’s book: “You’ve got to read it!” Did he?) Perhaps he’s been distracted because he’s penned up in a Manhattan criminal court. Or maybe because he’s that rare breed that doesn’t seem to like dogs; Trump is the only president in a century who hasn’t owned one. He does have dogs on his mind a lot, but always when he’s barking pejoratively about women, terrorists and political enemies (“choked like a dog,” “dumped liked a dog,” looks like “a dog,” “died like a dog”).

Yet Trump aides, hiding behind a cloak of anonymity, have been quick to confirm the conventional wisdom: Noem is almost certainly disqualified as Trump’s choice for vice president. As the pun-intended headline in the Murdochs’ New York Post put it this week, “Kristi Noem has ‘no shot’ as Trump’s VP pick after puppy-killing controversy: sources.”

And that’s what sickens me now: There is so much that should disqualify Noem from being first in line for the presidency — starting with the fact that she questions Joe Biden’s election and supported Trump’s efforts to overturn the result and resist the peaceful transfer of power — yet it took a puppy’s killing to actually disqualify her.

What a testament to our warped politics.

Every other Republican said to be on Trump’s shortlist similarly seconds his false, antidemocratic grievances about 2020. And yes, I understand that when the man at the top of the ticket is the election-denier and insurrection-inciter in chief, it follows that he’ll want as his No. 2 a candidate who echoes his utterances and snaps to his commands — like a dog, right?

Or, like Sens. Tim Scott of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and J.D. Vance of Ohio; Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York and Byron Donalds of Florida; North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and Trump rival-cum-sycophant Vivek Ramaswamy, among other would-be lapdogs eager for his nod.

During the 2016 campaign, then-rival Rubio snarled about Trump: “For years to come, there are many people on the right, in the media and voters at large that are going to be having to explain and justify how they fell into this trap of supporting Donald Trump.” Now — after Trump’s impeachments, an insurrection and four indictments — it’s Rubio who’s fully entrapped. This week he was tweeting against the “Biden supporter democrat ‘judge’” in Trump’s New York hush-money trial. Just like his master.

Vance is another aspirant who has rolled over for Trump. “I’m a Never Trump guy,” he said in 2016, and he suggested to a friend that Trump might be “America’s Hitler.” But on ABC’s “This Week” in February, Vance lashed out at host George Stephanopoulos for even asking about the events surrounding Jan. 6, and then admitted he’d have refused to certify Biden’s election had he been vice president.

As Vance and the rest of the veep wannabes know, Trump demands complete loyalty. (So why doesn’t he have a dog?)

Noem was relatively early to endorse Trump for reelection, at a September rally in South Dakota. Back then she said she’d be his veep nominee “in a heartbeat,” adding, “Trump needs a strong partner if he’s going to take back the White House.”

And just how does a woman demonstrate she’s got such strength, at least to Trump and MAGA world? Noem decided one way was to write her self-promoting book, “No Going Back,” and include anecdotes like the multipage account of shooting Cricket, a 14-month-old wirehaired pointer, and a family goat.

In her telling, first disclosed by the Guardian, the puppy had an “aggressive personality” and, “out of her mind with excitement,” disrupted a pheasant hunt — and attacked a neighbor’s chickens like “a trained assassin.” Noem grabbed a gun and took Cricket to the pit: “It was not a pleasant job, but it had to be done.” Then she figured she might as well dispatch the “nasty and mean” goat, too. It required two shots.

What strength. Amid days of denunciations, the supposedly strong Noem stuck to her guns, posting online about how the episode underscored her ability to make “tough decisions” and her knack for “real, honest, and politically INcorrect stories.”

As fed up as Secret Service agents must be with Biden’s bite-happy German shepherd, Commander, it’s hard to believe any of them want to draw their guns on him like Noem did with poor Cricket.

I hope she did kill her veep prospects. I’m just sorry it’s not for the right reasons.


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