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Governor Jan Brewer (R/Teahadi-AZ) is getting a lot of really good press right now for having pushed Medicaid expansion through the more-or-less Tea Party controlled Arizona legislature. Admittedly, this is, in and of itself, an unabashedly good thing. Hundreds of thousands of Arizonans, the poorest and most at-risk among us, will no longer be without care. The safety net Arizona voted to give ourselves, AHCCCS, has been restored in a way that will improve our economy and shore up our state's still shaky finances. Regardless the motive, the outcome is a great thing.

That said, you can take this media redemption of Jan Brewer and stuff it. Chris Hayes, I'm looking at you.


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Let's be clear, Jan Brewer is not an idiot. She may have been the rising star and darling of the far right of the Arizona Republican Party, but she's not a Black Helicopter Republican. Consider the gold coin bill. This pile of arble-garble had two reasons behind it. There was the reason that the national press got - the need to give opportunities to gold savers to spend their gold (which defeats the purposes of gold saving). Then there was the actual reason that circulated on the ground. OBAMA was going to spend so much money that the dollar was just going to continue inflating so much it would be useless, and Arizona needed to be prepared! Prepared, I say!!

Nevermind that the facts dictate that neither inflation nor federal spending have exactly been rocketing into the sun, they know.

The Black Helicopter Caucus has given us the Agenda 21 ban, forced oaths of loyalty, a pee bill (not joking, and neither were they), and defended your right to hate. Granted, this has provided Arizona with some excellent political entertainment. But walk through the Governor's signatures of these bills. The Agenda 21 ban? Signed. Pee bill? Killed in the House (due to global outrage turning it completely toxic, thanks everybody). The gold coin bill? Vetoed for technical reasons. But what Jan Brewer cares about is Jan Brewer. That lovely religious anarchy bill? She wrote in a letter that she regretted vetoing it, but she shot that hostage (and four more) dead to get AHCCCS expansion.

Now, to someone who has lived here for years, I feel the need to inform all of you who have not of a simple truth. Arizona is not normal. I do not mean "weird" the way most out of state folk mean it. I do not mean crazy. I mean there's the way the rest of the South runs, then there's how the South runs, and then there's Arizona. Arizonans like the political theater. We're the state that produced both Sinema and McCain, both Brewer and Grijalva. We expect them to be colorful, energetic, full of ideas and brilliant speeches, and if they are anything less, we tend to just stay home and let the other guy win.

Now, in terms of colorful, Jan Brewer is a damn rainbow. The electoral issue for her is to whom her colors appeal. Arizona's demographics are shifting at a breathtaking pace. The state is rapidly turning younger and browner, the electorate is moving steadily leftward on high-visibility issues. Now, were Jan Brewer running for governor again, she'd've taken the Medicaid money and not moved on immigratiion. But Brewer can't run for Governor, she's term limited. She can, however, run for McCain's seat in 2016.

Consider McCain's behavior. He's back to work on his legacy issue - immigration. On immigration, he reality checked his own party. On drones he all but body checked Rand Paul. He's monkeying in Syria, rumored to be scuttling Russian-American talks on the subject. McCain is spending political capital like a sailor spends cash, which only makes sense for one reason: he's getting done. McCain will be 80 when his term ends. Generic old at this age usually raises the r-word, but lest we forget, the man valiantly served his country under what can only be described as the most harrowing of circumstances, and carries the physical scars that go with it. I may not always agree with his politics, but he's generally proved himself to be an upright man whose convictions are real. He's earned the right to shore up his reputation, settle some old scores, and live out his days in well-earned peace on his Cornville ranch. That said, in my opinion, all signs point to Brewer burnishing her legacy in the hopes that in 2016 she'll be remembered more for Medicaid expansion than for SB1070, for denying DREAMers their licenses, for selling the Capitol, and on and on the list goes. The reason is simple - she is gambling that by the 2016 Senate race, if she can run as the Governor that worked across the aisle, she can force the Democrat to run negative against her, and Democrats do not win when we run negative.

There's only one catch. This strategy relies on collective amnesia. We would do well to let that stop being a feature of the American electorate. She's no less extreme and calculating a politician after Medicaid than before it, and the media, especially the liberal media, should remember all of her tenure, from 2009 to 2014, not from January til now. So America, do Arizona a favor - stop white-washing Jan Brewer. She doesn't deserve it.

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Originally posted to Jo Hafford on Sat Jun 15, 2013 at 11:58 PM PDT.

Also republished by LatinoKos, Phoenix Kossacks, Baja Arizona Kossacks, and Community Spotlight.

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