Although Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer is on a tour this week promoting her new book, she still managed to unleash chaos in the Grand Canyon State. In a characteristic political move some say was intended to secure the seats of Arizona Republicans in Congress, Brewer and the Republican-dominated state Senate all but derailed a voter-approved state redistricting commission by removing its chairwoman, Colleen Mathis, an independent.
Brewer claimed she ousted Mathis for ethical breaches. But in Arizona, her explanation isn’t washing. Republicans reportedly have been unhappy with the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission’s draft maps for new congressional districts, which could threaten the seats of several sitting Republican congressmen, including Ben Quayle, the son of the former U.S. vice president, Dan Quayle.
The governor-author has been roundly criticized by the state’s largest daily, the Phoenix-based Arizona Republic, which on its conservative-leaning editorial page warned Brewer to “put down the ax” and chastised her for continuing the book tour after “taking a historic blow against a voter-approved institution.”
Anyone who reads Brewer’s self-serving book, Scorpions for Breakfast—My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media and Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Border may figure that Governor Jan is taking detailed notice from afar of the criticism in Arizona.
In her book, out by HarperCollins this week, Brewer details the flack stemming from her 2010 signing of S.B. 1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration law, and likens it to “waterboarding.”
She took heart, she writes, when her adviser, Chuck Coughlin, characterized her critics this way: “They’re losers. They don’t have a life! They’re sitting there with no shoes on, bare-chested, drinking beer and smoking a cigarette. They hate the world.”
In Arizona, Brewer is not noted for speaking the Queen’s English, and speculation abounds as to who actually wrote large parts of Scorpions for Breakfast. There’s a stunning resemblance between the crisp slightly-outraged-at-what’s-happening-to-this-great-nation writing style of Brewer’s book, and the writing style of Sarah Palin’s little volume, America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag, reportedly ghostwritten by conservative Alaskan writer Jessica Gavora. (Palin—or Gavora?—also penned the introduction to Brewer’s book, which characterizes Brewer as a “down-to-earth mom committed to public service and principled leadership.”)
Neither Brewer’s spokesman nor the publicist for HarperCollins responded to requests for comment for this story, and Gavora couldn’t be contacted, so we’re left guessing on the ghostwriter matter.
I’m pretty sure, judging from the writing style, that Brewer actually wrote the acknowledgements section. Brewer thanks Gavora for “the excellent job she did in helping me share the truth about S.B. 1070, the immigration crisis, the liberal media, and union influences that Arizona and our country face.”
And that just about sums up the book’s content— the greatest portion of the 223 pages is devoted to changing the image of a grizzled, self-serving veteran politico into a self-sacrificing, courageous border-protecting patriotic gal with French-tipped nails and blonde hair coiffed into a Palin-like updo.
Still, it’s a mistake to dismiss Brewer as just another brainless Arizona crackpot. She’s held a political office for nearly three decades, in part because she does her party’s bidding (like blowing up the voter-approved redistricting process), but also because she is very smart about picking shrewd advisers. (Including Chuck Coughlin, a former lobbyist for private prison companies that seek to expand their holdings in Arizona.)
In the book, Brewer paints herself as a soldier fighting an “arrogant and overbearing government.” She denies widespread speculation that she signed the controversial immigration law because she was trailing in the polls behind her rival, Democrat Terry Goddard, and needed a high-octane boost to get elected. (As secretary of state, she’d been appointed governor when Janet Napolitano resigned to head up the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.)
Brewer became a Fox News celebrity after signing the immigration law, which makes it a state crime for unauthorized immigrants (read, Mexicans) to set foot in Arizona. Parts of the law were stayed by a federal judge before it took effect. In the book, Brewer hints ever so carefully that the judge, Susan Bolton, is something of an airhead. Bolton recently threw out Brewer’s countersuit in the S.B. 1070 fracas. (The countersuit contended that the federal government failed to enforce immigration policy.)
To her credit, Brewer briefly acknowledges that illegal immigration through Arizona’s deserts has decreased significantly. But much of her book warns about the dangers of hordes (of Mexicans) crossing the Arizona border.
She explains her well-publicized erroneous assertion that beheaded bodies had been found in the Arizona desert this way: “I was, of course, trying to make the larger point about the uncontrolled, drug-fueled violence on the border region … we didn’t want that sort of depraved violence to spill over into our towns and cities.”
Brewer asserts she’s not a racist, but some passages in the book seemed directly aimed at the white-nationalist fringe. She writes about the dangers of ethnic studies in public schools: “ ‘Multiculturalism’ sounds like a nice, friendly word that means respect for others. In practice, however, it’s worked out very differently. Multiculturalism encourages its followers to put racial and ethnic identity above all … multiculturalism and open borders philosophy go hand in hand.”
When Brewer returns to Arizona from her book tour, she’ll be entering a firestorm of her own making. Colleen Mathis, the ousted redistricting commission chairwoman, denies she made any ethical breaches, as Brewer and her cronies in the Arizona Senate allege. Mathis is gearing up for a court battle to keep her seat. And who knows, if a new person is appointed to the commission, the maps might tilt even further into the Democrats favor.
In the meantime, The Arizona Republic shows no sign of letting up on the embattled governor in its editorial pages.
The heating-up battle just might give Jan Brewer new material for her second book. So stay on standby, Jessica Gavora.