Jan Brewer Endorses Mitt Romney, Then Disrespects President Obama

In an interview today, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer endorsed Mitt Romney for President. And for the second time in a month, she publicly disrespected the President.

On NBC’s Meet the Press, Brewer said of Romney, “He handles himself very very well,” she said. “But more than that he has that pro-business background.”

For Brewer, an endorsement of Romney is hardly going out on a political limb. The state’s primary is in just two days and Romney is basically a shoo-in.

Romney, on the other hand, is probably shrugging his shoulders at Brewer’s endorsement. Brewer is a polarizing figure. Arizona is an extremely conservative state, yet she enjoys just a 46% job approval rating. 84% of Democrats disapprove of Brewer and 54% of independents see the Governor in an unfavorable light. It’s doubtful that her endorsement will change the votes of many Arizonans, but if Romney becomes the eventual nominee, he might find himself having to distance himself from the woman whose number one political strength is pure, unadulterated meanness.

On the same day she endorsed Romney, Brewer turned down an invitation to a dinner at the White House. The Speaker of the House, John Boehner has also turned down state dinners.

Meanness is nothing new in today’s conservative politics. In 2008, Sarah Palin graduated the term “mean girl” from the halls of high schools everywhere to the halls of a political convention. Even before that, conservative talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh made cruel sport of everyone who isn’t white, male and conservative.

However, something has happened since 2008. The flood gates have opened. Meanness, once a political liability, has become a viable political strategy. In 2010, the State of the Union Address, once a symbol of political decorum, was interrupted by a Congressman calling the President a liar. New Jersey’s Governor, Chris Christie, is famous for his abrasive, “in your face” style of politicking. Republican debate audiences boo healthcare and cheer for death.

A certain segment of the voting public, mostly those on the far right, eat it up. It doesn’t take a psychologist to see why. Voter anger has been fueled and misdirected by FOX News, right-wing talk radio and by politicians. Rather than focus their anger at those at the top of the economic food chain, they see enemies of those who have the fewest advantages. Rather than blaming employers that strangle wages by hiring undocumented workers, they blame the workers as being competition in a tight job market. Rather than blaming the banks, they blame their neighbors. Rather than blame themselves for their crumbling families, they blame gay people, abortion and Planned Parenthood.

There’s nothing new about this sort of politics. Divide and conquer as a political strategy is as old as mankind. There’s nothing novel about mudslinging either, but historically, American politicians have given voters the illusion as being above it all by letting their surrogates sling the actual mud. What is relatively new is jumping down from their pedestal and demeaning themselves and the office of the Presidency by wagging a bony finger at a sitting President of the United States or for that matter, any political dignitary.

There is a damn good reason for respect for a political office, if not for the politician holding the office. It’s for our own national security. When the world sees a Governor wagging her finger in the face of the President, they see fragility in the American political system. They see American weakness. Right or wrong, they might see a country, with just a little prodding, who is ripe for a coup. Respectful disagreement is the backbone of a democracy. Grumbling, and even behind the scenes name-calling is normal. But to diminish the image of the office that the world looks to for its political cues is downright dangerous. Few Democrats respected George W. Bush, the man, but we left the shoe-slinging to Iraqis. Instead, Democrats shook the President’s hand in reverence to the office. No Democrat, that I’m aware of, would turn down an invitation to the White House, no matter who occupies the Oval Office.

Apparently even Brewer knows she went a little too far. She defended her actions by saying the following on Meet the Press:

“I hope that it isn’t disrespect,” she said. “I would not disrespect the president of the United States. I have other commitments, and I’m going to be at the White House on Monday morning. I saw this event was a social thing. And I’m going to be at the White House Monday when we all meet and discuss policy.”


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