By Gary Dickson, State Government Reporter
PIERRE, SD – In what came as a surprise to many journalists assembled for what has become nearly a daily press conference and update on the battle against the scourge of coronavirus in the state, Governor Kristi Noem strode up to the podium wearing a large hat made of raw hamburger. Even the Department of Health Secretary Kim Malsam-Rysdon appeared taken aback at the state’s chief executive’s choice of headwear for the event.
“Nice lid, boss,” Malsam-Rysdon tried to whisper to Noem. Unfortunately for the DOH secretary the intended covert aside was picked up by a “hot” microphone. Upon realizing this, or maybe it was just her reaction to the raw meat on the governor’s noggin, she responded with a look the same as if someone had let loose with a malodorous air biscuit.
The governor, ever the professional public servant, just looked at her cabinet member and smiled, while saying, “Golly, thanks Kim!”
Noem looked out into the assembled reporters sitting at an appropriate socially distant six feet apart and said, “Well, I suppose you’d like to know what I’m doing with this ground chuck on my head, huh? Can’t say that I blame you. I mean, it’s Friday and I usually wear blue jeans, a flannel shirt and some kind of cap with the bill fashionably worn. But today I’m here to announce in this prim and proper blue suit that this governor is all in for the meat processors in South Dakota. And I’m showing it today and every day next week and maybe the week after next, by wearing a hat made of different cuts of beef, pork and poultry. Today’s meat of the day is hamburger. Tomorrow I’ve got a stack of pork chops waiting to go. And on Sunday – it’s Mother’s Day, you know – I’ve got a big ol’ choice beef whole tenderloin rump roast just rarin’ to go. My new public relations guy tells me there’s sausage, T-bone steak, pork ribs, a broiler chicken, and, get this . . . a really nice piece of beef tongue!”
The governor talked about how important it was to get the meat packing plants running and to stay running, “No matter what the human cost is,” she stated emphatically. “I mean, we’ve got to get South Dakotans back to work, to get our businesses open! South Dakotans need to put food on their heads and a roof on their table, dontcha think?
”A lot has said recently about the governor’s appearances on FOX News shows and interviews with other conservative media. Noem was questioned about the TV studio with live hookup capability that she recently had installed in her office. She didn’t try to minimize the broadcast addition’s usefulness to her job communicating with the state and, more importantly she said, with the world outside of South Dakota.
“Look, I’m 48 years old,” Noem said. “I have plans for me and my husband, what’s his name, especially after the kids get out of high school. Do you think I want to stay in Pierre or someplace else in this wretched stretch of dirt, cow dung, and drunk Republican legislators?”
The governor related that she has been receiving career advice from Eric Trump and Jarod Kushner. She said it was Eric Trump who advised her to start wearing the meat products as much as possible in order to send a message to the state’s corporate ag producers and the president himself that she is not just your run-of-the-mill state leader.
By now, the heat from the room lighting and extra lighting for the cameras of South Dakota Public Broadcasting were starting to have an effect on the ground beef on and around the governor’s head. Juices were starting to pool and run and drip on Noem’s blue suit. A bloody red trail of hamburger juice ran down her forehead. She automatically wiped it away two fingers from her left hand, then unconsciously licked the juice off her digits and licked her lips.
Malsam-Rysdon, who had been watching the governor’s presentation with intense interest, recoiled in horror when Noem dispatched the meat juices. She leaned over and pulled a small box of Kleenex from a shelf inside the podium and held it out to the governor, smiling weakly. Noem glanced down at the offered tissue, pulled one out, blew her nose and then wiped her forehead again with it. The DOH secretary looked like she was maybe getting the coronavirus.
Noem went on. “As many of you in the media know, I’ve received a lot of criticism from you and others about not doing enough when it came to addressing this Covid-19 pandemic. Well, I’m not going to be like any of those limousine liberals from New York or California. No, I’m not. We’re individuals. We’re rugged individuals. We wear slabs of meat and drape ourselves with sausage that’s probably made out of somebody’s neighbors the butcher didn’t care for. And we LIKE IT!”
As Noem talked she got more animated. Not only were the hamburger juices running off of her, but small chunks of ground chuck were flying off when she gestured. Malsam-Rysdon was frantically looking around for one of Noem’s aides to try to get them to come over and perhaps catch some of the gobs of burger before it hit the ground or anywhere else.
“Like I said last month,” the governor continued, “these calls to apply a one-size-fits-all approach is herd mentality. Herd mentality? Ha-Ha! Get it? We’ll show them herd mentality, one cut at a time! Hell, I think we’ll just open the entire state for whatever the people want! Gambling, rodeos, bike rallies, college football, flower shows, strip clubs, brothels, churches . . . anything and everything! That is, except the capitol building. Anyway, go out and buy something! Take a chance. Take grandma to the karaoke bar!”
Noem said she needed to end the press conference as she had to get back to her office studio as she was going to be a guest on Fox and Friends tonight and she wanted to put on another mound of fresh hamburger. As she walked out of the room, the governor was grabbing handfuls of warm, soggy ground round, forming it into balls and throwing it at the reporters.
“Here, you bastards,” she bellowed, “have some herd mentality! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-hah.”