Noem has no time to debate primary rival, but hurries to NRA Convention despite mass slaughter of children — The South Dakota Standard


The National Rifle Association (NRA) had scheduled this year’s national convention just a couple of days after the worst school shooting since the Sandy Hook massacre 10 years ago.

Both the school shooting and the convention happened to be in Texas; the convention was in Houston and the wanton slaughter of 19 children and two teachers was in Uvalde, which is between San Antonio and the Mexican border.

Little thought was given to canceling or rescheduling the NRA convention. Ironically, no firearms or other weapons were allowed within the convention hall, since Donald Trump was scheduled to speak and the Secret Service was responsible for keeping him safe. Despite familiar rhetoric about a “good guy with a gun” being the best protection against an armed madman, and despite the suggestion that more elementary school teachers should be armed so they can properly protect their students, thousands of good guys with guns would not be sufficient to ensure Trump’s safety.

The NRA in recent decades has become an intensely political organization, essentially an arm of the Republican Party. Less than 10 percent of its annual budget is devoted to its original core purpose of gun education, safety and training. A substantial share of the dues of rank and file NRA members is diverted to fund the lavish lifestyle of its CEO, Wayne LaPierre.

The primary mission of the organization is to elect politicians who will resist any meaningful restrictions on firearms, even assault weapons which would only make sense on the battlefield. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott realized that it would be in poor taste to attend the NRA conclave. He needed to be in Uvalde, a community of 15,000 people that will never really recover from this week’s violence. He sent his greetings via a recorded message.

Gov. Kristi Noem had no hesitation about her plans to speak to the NRA (pictured above in a still from the Right Side Broadcasting Network), and certainly there was nothing she needed to be doing in Pierre. She arrived in Texas with bells on. 

Noem spent part of her bizarre speech disparaging the French Revolution, which occurred from 1789-99. According to her, the French Republican “mobs tore down statues and crosses,” which she compared to the “woke mobs” that dismantled Confederate statues in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd. It is unclear whether Noem would prefer that France had remained a monarchy, and she may be unaware of the assistance that the French provided to America in our revolution, and in the War of 1812. 

She made clear her contempt for Everytown for Gun Safety, and other organizations that seek to ban assault weapons, close the gun show loophole, or seek to prevent mentally unstable people from obtaining firearms.

“Let me tell you the truth about the enemies of the Second Amendment,” Noem intoned. “They are schooled in the ways of Marx and Lenin.”

Actually, this is not the first time our governor has suggested that people who disagree with her are communists. She spent time in the fall of 2020 campaigning for Georgia’s two Republican U.S. senators, and after they were defeated by Democrats (Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff) she wasted no time in asserting that both new senators were actually communists

Kristi Noem constructed a special TV studio, to facilitate her appearances on FOX News, soon after she became South Dakota’s governor. She has traveled all over the country, with a security detail to protect her, campaigning for right-wing candidates and causes, all of it at taxpayers’ expense.

She has raised millions of dollars all over the country for her re-election campaign, and welcomes speculation that she would like to run for president, or perhaps serve as Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate.

All of this self-promotion, at a time when South Dakota does have problems that need attention, might be a legitimate campaign issue. Noem has an opponent in the Republican primary, state Rep. Steve Haugaard, and a Democratic challenger, state Rep. Jamie Smith. Haugaard would like to debate Noem, but the governor has begged off, since she simply doesn’t have the time. Haugaard is not buying that explanation.

“I can understand why the governor would not want to debate me,” he said recently, “because she cannot defend her record.”

Jay Davis is a retired Rapid City attorney and frequent contributor to The South Dakota Standard.

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