Why Almost Nobody Likes a Politician Shooting Her Dog

The widespread outrage over Kristi Noem’s book should awaken moral responsibility—not just toward pets but for one another.

This piece was adapted from Russell Moore’s newsletter. Subscribe here.

Decades ago, before he was a nationally recognized face, Stephen Colbert featured a “Better Know a District” segment on his show The Colbert Report in which he would parody a far-right cable news host as he interviewed members of Congress, trying to get them in awkward situations for comedic effect.

In his interview with John Yarmuth, then a congressman from Louisville, Kentucky, Colbert referenced Yarmuth’s past life as a debater on local television. He challenged Yarmuth to show his debating chops by instantly debating the opposite side of a question of Colbert’s choosing. The stance Colbert chose to take was that throwing kittens into a wood chipper was a bad thing to do—and he then pointed to Yarmuth to argue the other side—that sometimes, throwing kittens in a wood chipper is the right thing to do.

The joke, of course, was that no decent human being, much less a politician seeking votes from a majority of the population, would ever want to be seen making the case for throwing kittens in a wood chipper. This past week, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem proved that, as much as the American public has shifted on all kinds of issues, there still isn’t much of a constituency in this country for “Throw Kittens in the Wood Chipper”—or, more accurately in this case, “Shoot Puppies in the Head.”

In fact, many people have noted that this might be the most united that Americans of both parties and all tribes have been of late—all in expressing revulsion at Noem’s self-disclosure in her memoir that she “hated” her 14-month-old dog Cricket. When Cricket wasn’t …

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