That Kristi Noem, the Republican governor of South Dakota, is a fierce and loyal fan of Donald Trump is no mystery. That The Donald, in his immense ego, has dreamed that his face would be engraved in everlasting memory, he himself has made known. What was not known – and now reveals the New York Times – is that a zealous White House official last year picked up the phone and, quite seriously, inquired with Ms. Noem about the ‘practices’ to kick off an operation that the American president is very keen on . To see, while he is still alive, his big face carved into the rock of Mount Rushmore, the most popular mountain in America, alongside those of four presidents not just: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.
There is no chance of sculpting the face of a fifth president in the striking South Dakota National Memorial, on this the National Park Service, the federal agency that has control of Mount Rushmore, has always been clear-cut. On the mountain “there is no safe surface” and even that large expanse to the right of George Washington (on which for decades someone has occasionally thought about it) was actually rejected when the sculptor Gutzon Borglum wanted to engrave Jefferson’s face right there : “That area is not stable”.
Kristi Noem also knows, of course, that it’s not possible; so much so that after his White House meeting with The Donald in 2019, he told the Argus Leader (the South Dakota newspaper that is part of the group Usa Today) what he replied to the president: “He said to me, ‘Kristi, come here, shake my hand’, I shook it and said ‘Mr. President you should come to South Dakota sometime: we have Mount Rushmore’. And he: ‘Do you know it’s my dream to have my face on the Memorial? ‘I started laughing but he wasn’t laughing at all, he was absolutely serious ”.
After that meeting (and that phone call received from the White House) the governor of the state who saw the most famous deeds of the Sioux nation (there is also the Crazy Horse memorial) saw a double possibility. That of convincing Trump to visit Mount Rushmore on 4th July – Independence Day of the United States – and to strengthen its image (and its power) in the Republican party, now fully ‘Trumpist’ without exception. Having as its ultimate goal the dream (initially confessed only to close friends) of entering the race for the chair of vice-president if The Donald decides, as many ‘rumors’ claim, to get rid of the uncomfortable Mike Pence.
First goal achieved in full. Not only did Trump go to Mount Rushmore last July 4 for an opening speech on the actual electoral campaign and the ‘reopening’ of the States after the lockdown (which did not do too well, given today’s results) but he also traveled alongside the president on Air Force One, an honor reserved for very few and never before had a governor of the small state had.