The GOP’s Doggone Cruelty Isn’t Just Policy, It’s Principle

In a recent unsettling reveal, Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota boasted about offing her family’s misbehaving dog, an act she proudly defended as necessary and decisive. Yep, you heard it right—why bother with trifles like behavioral training or rehoming when you can just execute any bothersome beast on a whim? Her personal actions are horrific in their own right, but they serve as a stark, four-legged metaphor for the broader, often merciless strategies embraced by her party.

For the GOP, cruelty isn’t just an occasional side effect—it’s the very blueprint of their policymaking. You know it, I know it, and the GOP knows it—they keep blurting out the once-quiet part with their sorry-not-sorry defense. After all, why bother with mercy when mercilessness is infinitely sexier?

Let’s dive into the applied wisdom of Kristi Noem, shall we? The governor, apparently auditioning for a blockbuster role as America’s next top action hero, used her chilling, one-sided showdown with the family dog as her big leadership flex. Yes, in a move that surely had Shakespeare tossing in his grave, she turned poor Cricket’s tragic exit into a misguided lesson on tough decision-making. It’s not just a tail-waggingly terrible story; like I said, it’s a metaphor, folks! It’s how the GOP tackles all those pesky, nuanced societal issues: they channel the warmth and finesse of creating a chainsaw ice sculpture.

The forced-birth policies championed by the GOP are a ghastly echo of Cricket the Dog’s untimely demise. As U.S. birth rates plunge faster than my hopes for headlining a Netflix comedy special, companies are wailing over a shortage of workers to underpay and micro-manage (aka exploit). The GOP’s clueless fix? Clamp down on abortion rights, pump up the birth rates—wanted or not, supported or definitely not. It’s a macabre recipe: compel someone to squeeze out a tyke then snip social lifelines. As child welfare programs and public schools take a hatchet to their budgets, parents are left to scrounge for scraps of affordable healthcare and childcare. This isn’t just bad policy—it’s a masterclass in life-after-birth disregard. But, hey, it’s just what the doctor (or should I say, dictator-in-waiting) ordered to keep the power-hungry in power: obliterate any trace of a safety net, make the populace too worn out to protest, and then discard them like last season’s political promises.

But what if the pregnant person can’t make it to the finish line, through no fault of their own? I mean, that unforgiving, one-size-fits-all abortion ban is a very assembly-line way to produce future workers of America. And the GOP’s obsession with the sacrosanct rule of law means reproductive justice be damned. Basically, if a patient with pregnancy complications bleeds out after being turned away from the ER, it is what it is. It’s cruel, sure, but apparently, dead mommies-to-be are mere collateral damage when you have a non-negotiable political goal.

Then there’s the handling of other types of healthcare, particularly poignant in the midst of ongoing debates around Medicaid and Medicare. GOP proposals favor cuts that would leave millions without adequate care, a life-threatening prospect for many. Like Noem’s quick fix for her behaviorally-challenged furbaby, there’s a brutal dismissal of the complexities of human (and animal) needs. Because bah, ain’t nobody got time for that (in-depth, thoughtful analysis).

Take immigration, another battlefield marred by GOP-led initiatives. The scenes at the border during 45’s term, with traumatized, sobbing children separated from their parents, perhaps permanently, are not unintended consequences but features of a harsh approach meant to deter by despair. Kristi Noem’s tale echoes here, too. It’s easier for Republicans to shoot a poor dog than to fix what’s ailing it, just as it is easier for Republicans to violate the human rights of desperate migrants than fix the gaps in our immigration policy.

And so, we spiral back to poverty—America’s most potent symbol of systemic failure. The Republican strategy? Trim the so-called fat from assistance programs, all the while arguing that poverty is due to a lack of character, not a lack of opportunity. Kill any intelligent debate about how to help people by labeling them as either lazy or drug addicts. It’s a narrative as convenient as it is cruel, aiming not to uplift the impoverished but to moralize their supposed failures or motivations. Noem’s dismissal of her dog as “less than worthless” because it couldn’t meet her hunting expectations is cut from the same cloth as viewing low-income families as less worthy of support if they can’t climb out of poverty on their own. In these scenarios, both the dog and the poverty-stricken soul had it coming, according to GOP wisdom.

All these threads weave into a grand tapestry of GOP governance where cruelty isn’t just a byproduct—it’s the point. It’s about setting examples, about showing toughness, about telling a dubiously-heroic story of hard lines and harder hearts. It sells well to a base that craves the myth of the rugged individual, the self-reliant lone wolf who asks for nothing because he needs nothing. Americans adore those self-made man stories, even if they’re the sketchy imaginings of a trust fund baby’s PR team. But I’m getting a bit off track here. 

Anyway, here’s where Noem’s parable breaks down: social capitol isn’t built by scrappy lone wolves devoid of empathy. It’s built by communities, families, and yes, even the vulnerable, the poor, the tired masses yearning to breathe free. The greatness of a nation isn’t measured by how quickly it shoots its strays but by how well it tends to its flock.

As Noem gears up for the national spotlight, her past actions and her party’s policies offer a preview of what’s to come if their approach goes unchecked. If cruelty is the point, then compassion is the counterpoint. Contrary to well-worn MAGA talking points, it is not soft to demand humane treatment of animals, just as it is not weak to insist on nuanced, supportive policies for human beings.

So as we debate, deliberate, and decide on the leaders who will shape our future, let’s remember the poor pup in the gravel pit. Let’s ask ourselves whether we want leaders who pull the trigger on the vulnerable, or who nurture, support, and protect. Let’s choose compassion over cruelty, understanding over ultimatums. Because in the end, a society is judged not just by who it includes, but by who it refuses to abandon.

7 thoughts on “The GOP’s Doggone Cruelty Isn’t Just Policy, It’s Principle”

  1. Being the only Arizona legislator to be awarded the Humane Society of the United States’s Legislator of the Year award three times, I find your characterization of Republicans being animal abusers nonsensical and an opportunistic stretch.

    The level of intelligent commentary in this blog is dismal. It seems that anything that attacks Trump or Republicans is acceptable and goes unquestioned. While I should be pleased that my political opponents are being fed BS, it is still pretty pathetic.

    • Well, congratulations on tooting your own horn (a.k.a. auto fellatio) Johnny. Does Mitt Romney’s Irish Setter ring a bell?

    • How’s your record on human rights, John Kavanagh who lives on the taxpayer dime?

      Because that’s the actual point, which you clearly missed.

      I guess reading comprehension wasn’t really stressed in the New Jersey school system way, way, way back in the day.

      You post here a lot, you must not have much going on.

    • I don’t know Fred, an unmentioned contender for that VP slot may be Sarah Huckabee Sanders. A lying cheating light fingered bully, just like him!

    • The Puppy Slayer may still be in the VP Sweepstakes as The Vulgar Talking Yam (h/t Charles Pierce) is now defending her, laying the blame on the ghost writer:

      Via Talking Points Memo:

      “Donald Trump has weighed in on the Kristi Noem dog-shooting drama, offering the South Dakota governor, who was long considered on the short list to be Trump’s running mate until the past few weeks, plenty of bizarre cover for revealing she killed a dog and may have lied about a meeting with Kim Jong Un.”


      “Up until this week, the former president and 2024 candidate — who has not yet announced his VP pick — has stayed far away from Noem’s dog killing drama. But during an interview on the Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show this week, Trump addressed the scandal and placed the blame for the toxic anecdote and the Kim Jong Un errors on a ghostwriter. He then suggested that she didn’t read the final manuscript “carefully” enough.

      “Sometimes you do books and you have some guy writing a book, and you maybe don’t read it as carefully. You know, you have ghostwriters too. They help you. And they, in this case, didn’t help too much,” Trump said.

      He continued, praising her. “Now, she’s terrific. Look, she’s been a supporter of mine from day one. She did a great job as governor … I think she’s terrific. Couple of rough stories, there’s no question about it, and when explained, the dog story—you know, people hear that and people from different parts of the country probably feel a little bit differently, but that’s a tough story. But she’s a terrific person. She had a bad week. We all have bad weeks.””


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