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Calvin Freiburger

“Extreme” Jan Brewer Vetoes a Handful of “Right-Wing” Bills. What’s She Up To?

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Posted on April 20 2011 4:55 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

We’re all used to the zeal with which leftists conjure ugly smears of conservatives, but when conservatives prove the stereotype wrong, it takes serious chutzpa to then make a controversy out of that. Such is the spectacle on display in Terry Greene Sterling’s latest Daily Beast report, which tries to make sense out of recent decisions by Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer which don’t exactly fit the MO of a right-wing extremist:

A year ago, incumbent Republican Gov. Jan Brewer was trailing her Democratic rival Terry Goddard in the Arizona gubernatorial race. Then Brewer signed SB 1070, the state’s notorious immigration law, and further pandered to her Republican Tea Party base by touting her proud membership in the NRA, labeling unauthorized migrants drug mules, and scaring the daylights out of Arizonans with false tales of “beheadings” in the desert. Despite an agonizingly embarrassing senior moment in televised pre-election debates, Brewer rode a wave of conservative sentiment into the governor’s office, and achieved iconic status among her supporters.

(Since you bring it up, our friends at NewsBusters actually did find confirmation that at least one immigration-related beheading took place. But I digress)

A year later, incredibly, that iconic status hasn’t diminished, even though Brewer, 66, appears to be changing her political stripes. She reversed a cold-hearted decision to deprive poor people of state-funded transplants in Arizona (after three patients on the transplant list died) and stunned Arizonans on Monday when she vetoed two Tea Party pet measures that had sailed through the state house. Her apparent tick toward the right-of-center comes on the heels of a highly successful Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry campaign to kill five proposed state immigration laws that Brewer likely would have supported a year ago.

In her sudden about-face, Brewer axed a “birther” bill that required federal and state candidates to submit to the Arizona secretary of state a “circumcision certificate” or a “baptismal” certificate absent a “long form” birth certificate. In a letter to House Speaker Kirk Adams, Brewer implied that the circumcision language was tacky and claimed the bill went “too far” while doing nothing “constructive” for the state. And she told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News that the bill was a “distraction.”

She also vetoed a measure that would allow guns on vaguely defined “public pathways” close to state schools. In a letter to her political ally, Senate Majority Leader Russell Pearce, Brewer huffed that the gun measure was “poorly written” and could be construed to mean that people could pack guns on “public pathways” meandering through grammar schools and kindergartens.

“So what gives?” Sterling asks. Why the “shocking” transformation? Why, despite Brewer supposedly having re-invented herself as the second coming of Charlie Crist, aren’t “Tea Party Republicans furious at Brewer?”

It’s all part of a plan, insists State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat. Republican lawmakers who don’t support the bills vote for them anyway. They do this to appease extremist voters who will shape future primary elections, she says. Brewer, who is not facing re-election due to term limits, then vetoes the bills.

“The legislators knew she would veto the birther bill, and that’s why they passed it,” says Sinema. “Same with the gun bill. I actually had a Republican legislator give me a high-five when Brewer vetoed the birther bill.”

“I don’t think one should give Jan Brewer credit for stepping away from extremism,” adds Andrei Cherny, chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party.

Could be. Then again, it could be that Brewer simply disagreed with the bills, and that her supporters don’t think the occasional disagreement makes them enemies. Brewer regards the chase for Barack Obama’s “real” birthplace as a dead end and a distraction from the challenges facing Arizona as well as the rest of the country. As for the other measures, I’ll leave it for Arizonans to determine whether they’re just cases of “poorly written” bills, or if Brewer really has caved, but it’s worth noting that none of what Sterling references seems to violate the standard conservative litmus tests. It’s not as if Brewer suddenly announced she’s pro-choice, moved to appease unions, or came out in favor of cap-and-trade.

Fortunately, the Left has that base covered, too, as Sterling reminds us that impartially reports on someone else reminding us that Brewer’s still pretty darn extreme:

Brewer’s already done considerable damage, Cherny and other Democrats say. Brewer signed the embarrassing, costly, and ineffective SB 1070.

Embarrassing? To whom? Costly? Illegal immigration isn’t exactly cheap, either. And ineffective? Think that might have something to do with, in Sterling’s own words, the law being “partially stayed by federal courts”?

She signed a law that allowed Arizonans to pack concealed guns without permits.

Ah yes, because we all know that guns always lead to evil and never to good.

She approved draconian cuts to state education and health care.

I hope you’ll forgive me for somehow doubting that state education and healthcare bureaucrats have been spending the cut money wisely.

She signed a measure that would give priority in adoptions to heterosexual married parents over gay or single parents.

Translation: Brewer thinks the state should prefer that orphaned children have both a mother and a father when possible, while still allowing gays and singles to adopt when not. What a nut!

When someone acts contrary to a stereotype assigned to her, normal people usually react by questioning the stereotype and those pushing it. Leftists, however, react by salvaging the smear in any way they can, in this case twisting Jan Brewer’s prudence into evidence that she’s even more sinister than before. If only they could put that ingenuity to less malevolent uses.

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