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Most Important Subject of Budget Address: Kristi, Kristi, Kristi.

Image over substance—Governor Kristi Noem does it, so I think I’m allowed the same privilege in reporting on her budget address.

Governor Noem presented 22 images—slides—to legislators and the public this afternoon in Pierre to support her annual budget address. 11 of those slides featured images of the Governor herself:

Gov. Kristi Noem, slides 1–5 for FY2025 budget address, as posted by Bureau of Finance and Management, 2023.12.05.
Gov. Kristi Noem, slides 1–5 for FY2025 budget address, as posted by Bureau of Finance and Management, 2023.12.05.
Noem, slides 6–10, 2023.12.05.
Noem, slides 6–10, 2023.12.05.
Noem, slides 10–15, 2023.12.05.
Noem, slides 10–15, 2023.12.05.
Noem, slides 16–20, 2023.12.05.
Noem, slides 16–20, 2023.12.05.
Noem, slides 21–22, 2023.12.05.
Noem, slides 21–22, 2023.12.05.

As a speech coach, I can make a couple general observations:

First, if you are adding visual aids to your speech, you usually don’t need to include photos of yourself, since you will be there, at the podium, in sight of everyone, making the speech. You are your own visual aid; photos of yourself in your slides are mostly redundant.

Second, visual aids should provide visuals that aid the speech. More specifically, if you feel compelled to show people things like pictures while you are speaking, the things your audience sees should reinforce the words your audience hears. Many of the images featuring Noem do not really reflect what she is saying.

  • The (strangely repeated) “Keeping South Dakota Healthy” slide does not show doctors and nurses at work; it shows people apparently dressed in white medical coats who may assume are health care workers smiling for a photo with the Governor at the Capitol. The photo also places all of those apparent health care workers except for one behind the Governor and a row of people in regular business clothes.
  • The “Building a Stronger Workforce” slide commits a similar visual error: instead of showing people working, it shows a group of people standing around while the Governor gives a speech behind a slogan.
  • The “Educating our Kids” slides (which according every stylebook I’ve ever perused should capitalize the pronoun) show the Governor in a classroom last month promoting pheasant hunting. The Governor is not doing anything the slides reference—not using the science of reading, not training teachers and administrators in the phonics-based approach she mentions in her speech, not presenting vo-tech material to high-risk high-school students in the Jobs for America’s Graduates program, not using TANF funds.
  • The “Revenues Are Steady” slide is simply ridiculous. Dressing up as a blue-satin cowgirl and carrying a giant flag doesn’t say anything about the state’s fiscal condition. Riding a horse doesn’t say anything about the steadiness of revenues… unless the intended message is that South Dakota’s revenues are plodding along like a 19th-century mode of transportation.

Visual aids help listeners understand what the speech is about. When a speaker shows pictures of herself as half of her visual aids, listeners may understandably conclude that the speech is about the speaker herself and not… gee, whiz, what was the title of that speech again?


  1. grudznick 2023-12-05 19:33

    They were very pretty pictures. grudznick could not attend the speechifying but assumes the words were the most important part, and maybe the numbers. And body language.

  2. Arlo Blundt 2023-12-05 20:31

    The Governor will assure that the GOED office is funded (probably with a hefty increase) as it has become the fiscal source of her active campaign to achieve appointment in the next Republican Presidential Administration through national appearances, national fund raising and national name recognition. Everything else she will turn over to the Legislative leaders to thrash out. She’s focused like a laser on 2024.

  3. SuperSweet 2023-12-05 21:15

    As per slides showing her reading to kids, I would have required her to take off her cap when inside the school building as per policy not allowing caps/hats.

  4. John 2023-12-05 21:27

    What a flaming narcissist. A leader would elevate ones lieutenants, ones supporting members of the public.
    “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental health condition in which people have an unreasonably high sense of their own importance. They need and seek too much attention and want people to admire them. People with this disorder may lack the ability to understand or care about the feelings of others. But behind this mask of extreme confidence, they are not sure of their self-worth and are easily upset by the slightest criticism.”

  5. SuperSweet 2023-12-05 21:35

    Noem, Trump, et al, a case study in abnormal psychology.

  6. BobJ 2023-12-05 21:48

    Well, it’s nice she took time off from her busy travel schedule to visit South Dakota. NPD at it’s finest!

  7. Lee Schoenbeck 2023-12-05 21:55

    As a former debate coach , if you stepped back and evaluated your critique of the speech, you’d give your self an F. No points for misogyny and negative score for the ad hominem shots.
    Most importantly, swimming in the shallow intellectual end by failing to talk about the speech’’s performance in light of its Constitutionally assigned purpose.
    This was a solid B+. Meat and potatoes kind of plate addressing the basics with no strange side dishes.
    You can’t say it, being kind to a Republican hurts too much, but this was a good, solid budget address

  8. grudznick 2023-12-05 22:36

    grudznick read the blogging by Mr. Schoenbeck, regarded as a swell fellow and more knowledgeable than nearly all in the legislatures, to say, and I paraphrase here:

    You got a bad case of the NDS, Mr. H.

    Bah. It is your Christmas season.

  9. chris 2023-12-05 22:51

    Some of the trouble with Ms. Noem’s photos of herself at verious places doing stuff, is that the viewer gets distracted from the subject matter of the slide, while constantly searching for Mr. Lewandowski in the background.

  10. scott 2023-12-05 23:00

    I’m no mental health expert, but I suspect Noem has a form of mental illness. I believe she is fearful that she will become irrelevant, and thus feels the need for constantly getting attention any way she can.

  11. grudznick 2023-12-05 23:00

    As Mr. Chris says, “verious [sic] pictures of Ms. Noem doing stuff” do indeed distract the viewer, and you fellows get all fixated in that.

    It’s like back in the day when Ms. Hubbel and Dr. Boz would get the fellows all lathered up.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-12-06 04:43

    Lee, there is no misogyny or ad hominem in pointing out that a speaker misused visual aids. The Constitutionally assigned purpose of the budget address is to address the budget, not promote the Governor’s image.

  13. larry kurtz 2023-12-06 05:43

    When Earth haters like Lee Schoenbeck accuse Democrats of misogyny after electing Donald Trump POTUS angel gets its wings.

  14. larry kurtz 2023-12-06 05:43

    When Earth haters like Lee Schoenbeck accuse Democrats of misogyny after electing Donald Trump POTUS an angel gets its wings.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2023-12-06 06:30

    Lee, I’d have offered the same critique of Governor Daugaard if he had littered an address to the Legislature with pictures of himself… but he never did that, did he?

  16. Donald Pay 2023-12-06 08:44

    I prefer “dollars and sense” budget addresses to “show and tell” productions. Things started going downhill with budget addresses when Janklow made his staff drag those big poster boards into the address. Lee gets it wrong with the “meat and potatoes” entree. It’s now reached the point where the Governor’s menu reads “pictorials and potatoes” The heavy federal gravy is not mentioned and the meat is down to the minimum. It’s almost a vegetarian meal.

  17. Loren 2023-12-06 10:19

    For anyone considering Kristi for a job at the federal level, I have just one thought… Betsy DeVos.

  18. Bob Newland 2023-12-06 10:51

    Lee Schoenbeck accusing someone other than himself of misogyny. That’s rich.

  19. DaveFN 2023-12-06 10:52

    “Meat and potatoes” seem to be on the minds of several in the SD legislature for some reason.

    “Republican House Majority Leader Will Mortenson said Noem “really put out a meat and potatoes budget proposal,” focused on core items of schools, nursing homes and state employees.

    “I appreciated that she focused on those obligations as opposed to creating new obligations or new government programs, but the devil is in the details,” Mortenson said.”

  20. All Mammal 2023-12-06 11:00

    It is bad taste and atrocious manners to flout spending as if it is from the kindness of the governor’s heart. No! It is either from the kindness of the Democratic party’s hearts or from the sweat from the Blue States’ brow! Tell it like it is, bro.

    She needs to show some gratitude for where funds come from. To behave like the fairy godmother with other peoples’ money is so tacky.

  21. O 2023-12-06 12:19

    So indigent legal defendants aren’t photogenic?

  22. All Mammal 2023-12-06 13:24

    O- they might fall within the same category as wounded veterans and people with disabilities:( I can’t be sure, but it seems that is likely to be the belief amongst the crowds Governor Noem runs with. A derelict trumps the indigent?

  23. David Law 2023-12-06 17:08

    Kristi is all about herself and what she can do to stay on the national stage! No thoughts or empathy for real SD families! That shows up in her lack of funding in her budget for school lunch programs, day care funding, not freezing college tuition, etc, etc, etc!!

  24. M 2023-12-06 17:28

    Kristi got a few captions wrong and none of the graphics right. Pictures should include more South Dakotans toiling with 2 to 3 jobs while the upper crust observe. It’s not Kristi’s budget, it’s our budget. Get rid of her plastic face and adopt the following captions.
    Conservative Fiscal Mismanagement
    Per Capita Personal Income Growth from Bidenomics
    South Dakota’s Revenues Steady but Shaky
    Weakening Public Education
    Indoctrination of Kids
    Building a Workforce After Intense Brain Drain
    Keeping South Dakotans Healthy Without Providing Healthcare
    Federal Infrastructure Investments
    Avoiding Debt While Incarcerating More Natives
    Go Fund Me for Indigent Legal Defense

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