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Noem Praises Hard Work While Making Speeches in DC and Losing Policy Priorities Back in Pierre

During Kristi Noem’s three-day speechmaking vacation in Washington, D.C., last week, the part-time Governor delivered remarks at the Coolidge Foundation highlighting the American work ethic:

“Throughout our history, America has been great because we have the Freedom to work both hard and smart. That’s the American work ethic. And we must advance both Freedom and that work ethic if we hope to continue to be the greatest nation in history.”

“[President Coolidge] knew that working American men and women were the ones who drove our nation’s destiny. I couldn’t agree more. But today, our nation is beginning to lose sight of that. The current administration here in Washington is pursuing welfare policies that could be accurately described as European-style socialism.”

“[President Coolidge] would be the last President to actually shrink the size of the federal government – let me tell you, that takes hard work. In fact, during Coolidge’s presidency, he actually cut the overall debt by about 40%, all while cutting taxes for the American people. As Congress and the President debate what to do about the federal debt, they should look to that example.”

“President Coolidge visited South Dakota in the summer of 1927. He was supposed to stay or three weeks but ended up spending three months. At the time, there was a man hard at work carving faces into a mountain… [President Coolidge] saw what [Mount Rushmore] could become, stating that ‘This memorial will be another national shrine to which future generations will repair to declare their continuing allegiance to independence, to self-government, to freedom, and to economic justice.’ Later in the same speech, he talked about South Dakotans: ‘The people of South Dakota are taking the lead in the preparation of this memorial out of their meager resources, because the American spirit is strong among them.’”

“I feel very tied to this man who died about 40 years before I was born. I feel most closely tied to him because of his admiration for the United States of America, for our founding principles, and for our nation’s work ethic. He knew that there was something fundamentally different that sets our country apart from every other” [Gov. Kristi Noem, remarks to Coolidge Foundation in Washington, D.C., excerpts chosen by Governor’s Office for official press release, 2023.02.17].

Ridiculousness abounds in the Governor’s vacation lines.

Telling us to celebrate our “freedom to work hard” sounds uncomfortably similar to what the Nazis told the Jews at the camp gates.

Criticizing the current administration “here in Washington” for pursuing “European-style socialism” rings hollow when South Dakota’s state budget and economic development, including Noem’s own allegedly hard-working farm familylimps along on federal handouts.

Mentioning that Coolidge’s feat of shrinking government “takes hard work” rings true, especially since Noem, far from doing such hard work in Pierre, is expanding the budget, workforce, and regulatory reach of her state government.

Highlighting quotes Coolidge made during his own Black Hills vacation doesn’t reinforce the theme of “hard work ethic”.

Picking a quote in which Coolidge notes South Dakota’s “meager resources” doesn’t really sound like advertising South Dakota’s greatness, the lip gloss Noem puts on her piggy vacations.

And seriously, no one in America “feels very tied” to Calvin Coolidge. Noem feels more tied to Corey Lewandowski than to Silent Cal.

But the primary proof of the ridiculousness of Coolidge-cloaked praise of hard work rests in the fact that while she was off jetsetting again, her own Republican Legislature killed another of her vaunted policy priorities, expanded family leave. Hard-working Pierre reporter Bob Mercer guarantees he won’t get a gubernatorial interview until Marty Jackley’s inauguration by keenly capturing the irony:

Governor Kristi Noem’s attempt to substantially expand family-leave benefits for state government employees has died.

So has her proposal to use state funds to subsidize family-leave insurance for private employers.

Those defeats came a day apart this week while the Republican governor was out of state on a three-day swing in Washington, D.C., where in speeches and public appearances she spoke about how well she has been leading South Dakota.

On Wednesday, Republican members on a Senate panel blocked her proposal to use up to $5 million annually from state government’s general fund for the private subsidies. The program would have ended after four years.

On Thursday, a bipartisan group of nine House members unanimously set aside her plan to upgrade family leave for state employees. She had wanted them to be able to use it longer and in more situations than just birth or adoption of a child, and be paid 100% of their salaries while they were out [links added; Bob Mercer, “Legislators Block Both Parts of Noem’s Family-Leave Plans,” KELO-TV, 2023.02.17].

Family leave dead, just like Noem’s vouchers for church schools and past years’ speechmaking priorities—that’s what happens when a Governor is away from the Capitol during Session making speeches and attending campaign fundraisers instead of doing the hard work (which should be that hard for a Republican Governor with a Republican supermajority Legislature) of pushing her legislation to passage.

A Kristi Noem speech promoting hard work is like a Donald Trump speech promoting marital fidelity. If Noem really feels very tied to Silent Cal, maybe she should emulate the 30th President of the United States and be quiet before she says anything else ridiculous.

We need more of the Office Desk and less of the Show Window in politics. Let men in office substitute the midnight oil for the limelight.

—Calvin Coolidge, quoted by The Coolidge Foundation in the press release announcing Kristi Noem’s February 17, 2023, speech to the foundation, 2023.02.10


  1. Nick Nemec 2023-02-20 07:13

    Kristi Noem should be at the highth of her power, she was just elected with a huge majority of the vote, she has the biggest legislative majorities in decades, but she is unwilling to use her power to get any of her program passed. Bill Janklow is shaking his head in disgust. If he was in her position there would be bloody foot prints leading back to the third floor and the plans would pass.

  2. Richard Schriever 2023-02-20 07:46

    Coolidge’s policies ushered in and even exacerbated the great depression. What a policy agenda to choose to emulate!! Or, at least say (disingenuously) one does.

  3. grudznick 2023-02-20 08:01

    Just like the good teachers do better than the average or poor teachers, Mr. Calvin Coolidge urged people to work harder. There are times Ms. Noem could take that advice, too.

  4. e platypus onion 2023-02-20 08:09

    When I eliminate work, I’m efficient. When magats do it they are lazy.
    People need to catch on to Noem and her state are major beneficiaries of European style socialism.

  5. Nick Nemec 2023-02-20 08:23

    Calvin Coolidge left the presidency on March 4, 1929. The stock market crash less than eight months later marks the start of the Great Depression. Silent Cal and Republican laissez faire policies share the blame.

  6. Jenny 2023-02-20 08:53

    Silent Cal was his nickname….that rings true with Noem’s absences from SD.

  7. Loren 2023-02-20 09:19

    Saw a few clips of Kristi in D.C. reading off her talking points card. It was typical Republican claptrap, all criticism of Democrats and no solutions. It was all bumper sticker bull roar. Secure our borders. How? Ease inflation. How? Reduce the deficit. How? How is that ObamaCare, repeal/replace coming? Republicans used to have ideas, some I agreed with and some I did not. Now, their only policy is being against any proposal by a Democrat. I wish she would stop embarrassing SD. Just STOP!

  8. John 2023-02-20 09:53

    Noem is a worthless political hack. She passed 1 bill in her years in the US congress, the Black Hills Cemetery Act. That Act is so poorly worded and conceived that it has yet to be fully implemented. Noem is talented at carnival barking but little else. Your neighbors are fools for consistently re-electing her to accomplish nothing with her lack of vision and absence of leadership skills or presence.

  9. Jake 2023-02-20 09:59

    Loren, (and all others!)-isn’t what you said SO TRUE?! The (seemingly) ONLY policy current Republicans have (in their usual “lockstep fashion) is that anything the Democrats advocate-we’re totally against! They decry socialism all the time, but she (Noem) gave 4.7 million$$ to a corporate CAFO dairy so they could expand to 22,000 head of dairy cows! But no, that’s not “socialism”-but “economic development”!

  10. larry kurtz 2023-02-20 10:31

    Hey, Mrs. Noem is from the government and she’s here to help!

  11. O 2023-02-20 11:30

    What is the adage about not learning the lessons of history . .. ? (and forcing a state to not learn them either?)

  12. DaveFN 2023-02-20 11:52

    “…something fundamentally different that sets our country apart from every other”

    And that be?

  13. Mark Anderson 2023-02-20 12:55

    Maybe Kristi will put up a mountain statue to the truly great colleague of the founding fathers who showed them how freedom works, Robert Carter III.

  14. 96Tears 2023-02-20 13:10

    Four years in the S.D. House of Representatives. Eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives. Four years as S.D. Governor.

    Accomplishments: Zero. She got more done as state snow queen. One year.

    Frankly, folks, you’ve got this all wrong. Her accomplishments make her the most qualified Republican running for President since Donald Trump. Apparently, this is what Republicans demand from their nominees.

    Elect Noem. She gets nothing done, and you can bet on it!

  15. Tom 2023-02-20 13:42

    her next step should be Playboy centerfold…assuming it’s still be published…that would drive the GQP wild…

  16. David Newquist 2023-02-20 15:56

    I wonder why, at the point, that folks find it noteworthy that nothing coherent comes out of the mouth of Gov. Ditz.

  17. larry kurtz 2023-02-20 17:57

    Mrs. Noem has built a career on the public dole while damning Big Government? Say it isn’t so!

  18. larry kurtz 2023-02-20 17:59

    Morning Consult has her moving from 0% where she and I were tied to 1%.

  19. Bob Newland 2023-02-20 19:16

    David, the notewothiness arises from her ability to rise to new levels of incoherence.

  20. All Mammal 2023-02-20 21:21

    O- is this the one you were referring to? “Experience keeps a dear school, yet fools will learn in no other.”

  21. Edwin Arndt 2023-02-20 21:41

    The only lesson history teaches is that no one learns the lessons
    of history. Pretty much true.

  22. David Newquist 2023-02-20 21:56

    You’re right, Bob, and in that regard, she’s an overachiever.

  23. Lucy M 2023-02-20 22:06

    My mother met Coolidge when he visited the Custer game lodge, and that was the most important thing she could remember about Silent Cal. Kristi got Trump to Mt. Rushmore for fireworks, and that was a BIG thing in her career. How many of us would care to return to the days when a Coolidge got elected and the policies for which Kristi honors him were enacted? How many want to live in the world created by those policies, including the depression, that it took Roosevelt to begin the recovery from them.? Would it not be better to learn from those mistakes and take the kinds of actions that our current situation demands so as to avoid disaster for as many of the people as possible? Many questions!

  24. Curt 2023-02-20 23:39

    I believe Silent Cal was an honorable man. He wanted free and unfettered commerce to rule the land. Ask East Palestine how that has worked out.

  25. P. Aitch 2023-02-21 00:17

    @ BSCURT – Though the derailment occurred on Feb. 3 and the chemical release began on Feb. 6, it wasn’t until Feb. 12 that the event drew the interest of right-wing pundits. Their interest appears to have followed a video initially produced by a political group named American Virtue, which claimed “there is currently an ecological disaster in Ohio, and no one in the media is speaking about it.”

    American Virtue is a project of the far-right American Bull Moose Foundation, and, according to the nonprofit group Political Research Associates, appears “to be a venue for young White nationalists to curry favor with a new crop of MAGA-aligned political figures.” It is meant to be, that organization reported, at least superficially, a more mainstream version of Nick Fuentes’ far-right white nationalist group, America First.

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