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Why in the world would Kristi Noem admit to shooting her dog? – MSNBC

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Gov. Kristi Noem has been at the center of some unfortunate controversies of late, but by any fair measure, last week’s revelations were orders of magnitude worse for the ambitious South Dakota Republican.
At first blush, the accusations sounded like scurrilous accusations floated by a former aide who was determined to destroy her political career. But that’s not what happened: Rather, it was Noem herself who wrote a memoir in which she described, among other things, killing her 14-month-old dog named Cricket.
The Guardian obtained a copy of the upcoming book, “No Going Back,” in which Noem wrote about shooting her dog after deciding it was “less than worthless” and “untrainable.” NBC News reported:
In her account, Noem grabbed her gun and led the dog, named Cricket, to a gravel pit. “It was not a pleasant job, but it had to be done. And after it was over, I realized another unpleasant job needed to be done,” Noem wrote. She then went on to kill a family goat, which she called “nasty and mean.” Noem also led the goat to a gravel pit, where she said her first shot wounded but did not kill the animal. She got another shell for her gun and killed the goat, according to the book.

Noem’s book, according to her publisher, will “packed with surprising stories.” My MSNBC colleague Clarissa-Jan Lim added over the weekend, “The publisher isn’t wrong.”
To put it mildly, Noem’s anecdote has not been well received. A Politico report, for example, said Noem’s self-described actions sound like “animal cruelty,” adding, “Cricket sounds like, well, a puppy: rambunctious, wild and in serious need of training or possibly a new home. Rather than express sadness or regret about the situation, Noem goes on to write that she ‘hated that dog.’”
As the news circulated, the GOP governor made no effort to deny her own story. On Friday morning, for example, Noem responded to the original reporting in the Guardian by writing on social media, “We love animals, but tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm.”
When that failed to have much of an impact, the South Dakotan issued a second statement, in which she said, among other things, “The fact is, South Dakota law states that dogs who attack and kill livestock can be put down. Given that Cricket had shown aggressive behavior toward people by biting them, I decided what I did. Whether running the ranch or in politics, I have never passed on my responsibilities to anyone else to handle. Even if it’s hard and painful. I followed the law and was being a responsible parent, dog owner, and neighbor.”
All of this came against a backdrop in which Noem has spent months positioning herself as a possible running mate for Donald Trump, though her odds were already fading before Friday. Between the weird dentist video, her ethics messes, and her apparent opposition to rape exceptions on abortion rights, it was increasingly difficult to imagine the governor actually getting the nod from the former president.
It’s probably fair to say her odds are considerably worse now. Anything’s possible, but even Trump would prefer to avoid questions such as, “Why did your running mate shoot an overly enthusiastic puppy?”
What’s more, plenty of other Republicans are still traumatized over Mitt Romney and the dog-on-the-car-roof story, and this one’s vastly worse.
All of which leaves us with a question that has no obvious answer: Why in the world would Noem admit to something like this? I won’t pretend to know what the governor was thinking, but there are plenty of possibilities:
Maybe she doesn’t want to be Trump’s running mate. If Noem were determined to self-sabotage her chances of making her party’s ticket, this would make sense.
Maybe she’s trying to appeal to Trump by focusing on one of his phobias. It’s not a secret that the former president and dogs don’t get along.
Maybe she’s trying to convey something resembling “toughness.” Can J.D. Vance, Tim Scott, and Elise Stefanik also say that they also shot family pets?
Maybe this is some weird Second Amendment thing. If Noem wanted to remind Republicans that she has and uses guns, I suppose this is one way to go about doing so.
Maybe she was trying to get ahead of the story. A Politico report added, “Noem writes that some construction workers saw her shoot Cricket. … Could it be she was trying to tell a bad story on her own terms before someone else did?”
Maybe she’s just bad at this. “I guess if I were a better politician I wouldn’t tell the story here,” Noem wrote. Yes. Exactly.
As New York magazine’s Margaret Hartmann added, “Indeed, you don’t have to be a keen political analyst to predict that a story about hurting dogs wouldn’t go over well with Americans. You just have to be a person who was alive in 2012 and remembers Mitt Romney being roasted for making his diarrhea-ridden dog ride on the roof of the family car. Or even someone who knows the plot of 101 Dalmatians.”
Whatever the explanation, Democrats are having a field day with the story, making it that much less likely that Noem’s vice presidential ambitions will be fulfilled.
Steve Benen is a producer for “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the editor of MaddowBlog and an MSNBC political contributor. He’s also the bestselling author of “The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics.”


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