Now that Noem knows what’s in her own book, she should tell us how it got there • South Dakota Searchlight

Now that Noem knows what’s in her own book, she should tell us how it got there • South Dakota Searchlight
Now that Noem knows what’s in her own book, she should tell us how it got there • South Dakota Searchlight

Kristi Noem owes South Dakotans an explanation for the embarrassment she’s caused herself and the state.

The Republican governor has not yet told us how or why she included a false story in her upcoming book about meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Margaret Brennan of “Face the Nation” pressed Noem for an answer Sunday on CBS.

Noem replied, “This anecdote shouldn’t have been in the book, and as soon as it was brought to my attention, I made sure that that was adjusted.”

So Noem would have us believe that she didn’t know until last week — when The Dakota Scout broke the story — that her own memoir falsely claimed she had met one of the world’s most notorious dictators.

The relevant portion of the book isn’t a passing mention of Kim’s name. It’s a full-on boast.

“I remember when I met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un,” Noem wrote. “I’m sure he underestimated me, having no clue about my experience staring down little tyrants (I’d been a children’s pastor, after all).”

How could such a passage be included without Noem’s knowledge, when she’s the only credited author? South Dakotans aren’t as dumb as she apparently thinks we look, so we can deduce three possibilities:

  • She fabricated the story and thought nobody would catch her in the lie.
  • She met some other official from an Asian country and mistook or misremembered that person as Kim Jong Un.
  • She relied on a ghostwriter so heavily that she didn’t read her own book before it went to the printer.

We can rule out the third possibility, because we know Noem read her own manuscript. Prior to anyone else reading it, she posted https://twitter.com/KristiNoem/status/1770186041518968978 of herself narrating the audiobook.

That leaves two explanations: She lied, or she’s incompetent. When those are the only answers, it’s no wonder she avoids the question.

Noem’s other starring television role this weekend was on “Saturday Night Live” — but not as the host. Instead, she was the butt of several jokes about another portion of her book, in which she revealed that she fatally shot a hunting dog and a billy goat.

The show’s focus on Noem made it abundantly clear that she’s the main object of ridicule in the country right now. That’s no small feat while a former president is on trial for allegedly falsifying business records to cover up hush-money payments to a porn star.

The governor’s shocking fall is an abrupt flip of the script for South Dakotans, after Noem and her enablers spent the past few years promoting her rising political fame as a boon to the state.

Now South Dakotans can only wait to see how far Noem might drag down the state’s reputation before she hits rock bottom. With the book not even scheduled to be released until Tuesday — all the damage so far has arisen from advance copies — who knows what further humiliation might be in store.

Noem intended the book’s title, “No Going Back,” as a rallying cry for her plans to move the country forward. Instead, it now stands as a sadly ironic reference to a turning point in her career.

But the title isn’t the only ironic part of the book. Its 200-plus pages include pronouncements by Noem that “excuses are not accepted” in her state, and that “we need truth from our leaders.”

Perhaps Noem should take her own advice by dropping the excuses, telling the truth about why the false Kim Jong Un anecdote is in her book, and saving what little dignity she and her state have left.

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