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South Dakota governor and rising conservative star Kristi Noem was a big hit at CPAC on Saturday, where she bragged about her state’s response to the coronavirus during a headlining speech.
In reality, South Dakota’s laissez faire approach the pandemic — including Noem’s refusal to enforce a mask mandate — has amounted to “a failed experiment in herd immunity,” as Bloomberg recently put it.
And, as Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan noted during the CBS interview, South Dakota’s mortality rate has been the highest in the country since last July.
Noting that the governor is a staunch conservative, Brennan pressed Noem to explain how someone who claims to care about the sanctity of life can “justify making decisions that put the health of your constituents at risk.
“Those are questions that you should be asking every other governor in this country as well,” she said, even though the whole point of the question is that South Dakota’s Covid-19 response has been a failure — and far more limited — when compared to the vast majority of other states.
NOEM: Those are questions that you should be asking every other governor as well pic.
Public health experts said holding the rally, which ultimately drew nearly 500,000 people, was a very bad idea.
Asked about the San Diego study by Brennan, Noem indicated she values allowing “people to make decisions for themselves” above all else.
“Listen, what we did was allow people to make decisions for themselves,” she said.
Asked if she takes personal responsibility for the 2020 Sturgis motorcycle rally being a superspreader event, Noem says ‘what we did was allow people to make decisions for themselves’ pic.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2021 As Brennan pointed out, however, Noem’s position is not backed up by facts.
Noem’s coronavirus response has even been panned by Republicans like West Virginia Gov.
Jim Justice, who responded to critics of his mask mandate last November by saying, “I don’t want to be South Dakota.
” Brennan asked Noem about Justice’s remark, but instead of engaging with it, Noem immediately pivoted to bashing blue states governors like Andrew Cuomo and Gavin Newsom, both of whom have faced questions over their Covid-19 response.
Pressed on Face the Nation about a Republican governor citing South Dakota as an example of how not to respond to Covid, Gov.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 28, 2021 In short, Noem’s CBS interview did no go well for her.
But Margaret Brennan is not the GOP base, and if Noem’s CPAC reception is any indication, Republican primary voters actually view Noem’s coronavirus response as a success.
Noem’s CPAC speech illustrated how little conservatives have learned about the coronavirus “Let me be clear — Covid didn’t crush the economy, government crushed the economy,” Noem claimed at CPAC on Saturday, before taking a direct shot at trusted public health experts.
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 26, 2021 Noem isn’t big on masks herself.