Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 2, 2010

NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME.... We talked earlier Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer's (R) remarkable opening statement in a gubernatorial debate last night, in which the far-right incumbent appeared deeply confused about what she was trying to say. In the minute-long opening statement, there was a nine-second stretch in which a stumped Brewer said literally nothing.

Several alert readers emailed to let me know, however, that the debate actually got more entertaining from there -- with perhaps the most striking moment coming after the event.

During an exchange on the economy, state Attorney General Terry Goddard, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, noted that it doesn't help the state when its governor tells the nation that Arizona is a dangerous place, unsafe for tourists and investors. He was referencing an incident in which Brewer insisted that immigrants entering the U.S. illegally are responsible for "beheadings" in the Arizona desert. The governor appears to have just made the claim up out of whole cloth, as part of a larger attempt at shameless demagoguery.

During the debate, Brewer refused to comment on her own allegations, so after the event, reporters followed up. The frighteningly unprepared governor, unable to think of a response, froze, said nothing, and then literally fled.

I don't know what Arizona Democrats plan to do with this, or if Dems even have a credible chance in this race, but these videos have a "chicken for checkups" quality to them. Indeed, it's hard to imagine voters watching Brewer's performance and having confidence in her ability to be a capable chief executive.

In related news, a local CBS affiliate in Arizona aired an investigative report about Brewer possibly having a conflict of interest regarding private prison giant Corrections Corporation of America, and its connection to the state's anti-immigrant law. Brewer responded, not with a defense, but by punishing the affiliate by pulling her campaign ads from the network.

Recent polling shows Brewer cruising to a win in November. We'll see if the polls change in light of last night's fiasco.

Steve Benen 1:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

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Comments

So if I click on the BachmannForCongress.com ad, does it cost her money?

Posted by: treetop on September 2, 2010 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

What was really good was at the end of the tape where the Gov turned tail and ran into an empty room. She apparently was so desperate to get away that any door seemed like a good escape route.

Posted by: k l m on September 2, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Polls Change? Unlikely as the dumb asses that would vote for her would have no reason to watch the debate and even if they did , it wouldn't change their minds as they are voting along ideological lines not competency.

Posted by: john R on September 2, 2010 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

Rachel had a segment last night about Brewer's conflict of interest and pulling the ads from the CBS affiliate. She interviewed the reporter who's been doing the investigating at some length about it.

Posted by: msmolly on September 2, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, deer in the headlights.

Posted by: Breezeblock on September 2, 2010 at 1:22 PM | PERMALINK

With apologies to _Monty Python and The Holy Grail_:

Brave Govoernor Brewer ran away.
("No!")
Bravely ran away away.
("I didn't!")
When danger reared it's ugly head,
She bravely turned her tail and fled.
("I never!")
Yes, brave Governor Brewer turned about
And gallantly she chickened out.
("You're lying!")
Swiftly taking to her feet,
She beat a very brave retreat.
Bravest of the braaaave, Governor Brewer!

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on September 2, 2010 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

And why does an incumbent who is "cruising to a win" agree to debate at all?

Posted by: Mudge on September 2, 2010 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Good one, Zorro!

Maybe it was something she drank at the Republican Governor's Meeting- Sarah Palin shows similar disdain (fear?) for the press.

Posted by: DAY on September 2, 2010 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

The link to "recent polls" only shows whatever propaganda Russmusen is dumping. The last real polls were taken in April and earlier by PPP and ASU and those showed the Dem. AG well ahead. That may have changed but there is no reliable polling to say otherwise.

I guess when you make up the numbers, it is easy to post a half dozen polls a day. Tiny pollster Gallup can't manage more than about 2 polls a day because they waste time asking real people questions.

Posted by: OKDem on September 2, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Brewer is an un-american, corrupt dolt who should be in one of her buddy's prisons. IMHO. Is she more corrupt, inept, evil or stupid? Not even Rasmussen could break that polling deadlock.

Posted by: Sparko on September 2, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Historically, Az has voted for moderate governors, Dems and Repubs, when the Repubs have nominated far right people. Jan Brewer is as hard right and paranoid as they get and still be in office.

governors since mid 1980s.. Babbitt - d, Mecham - r impeached and removed, Mofford - d, Symington - r resigned due to finance scandal conviction, Hull - r, Napolitano d,

Not since the 1980s have we gov fill two terms. And Mofford and Hull were raised because their predecessors were untimely removed.

If Goddard gets enough advertising he has a rather good shot,

meanwhile,

Boycott FOX
Boycott the Wall Street Journal

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on September 2, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

People don't watch goobernatorial debates.

OTOH, if the press starts to turn on her more, starts talking about her as a loser, that might hurt her.

OTOOH, she's *for* keeping immigrant anchor terrorist beheading babies out of Arizona, and there is a critical mass of old pissed off retired white people there. They suck. She'll still win.

Posted by: flubber on September 2, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

This will only reinforce Rick Perry's conviction to never debate Bill White in Texas Gubernatorial race. If all else fails, Perry will claim he won't debate unless White grows back all the hair on his head.

Posted by: Dilip on September 2, 2010 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

My favorite moment was the collective "AWWWWW" from the reporters when Brewer turned tail and fled. Classic. And I'm glad the TV station had the guts to include it in the report.

She may have a lead in the polls now, but she's on the road to Chicken Ladyland. Her only hope is to play rope-a-dope until election day.

...emphasis on "dope."

Posted by: jvwalt on September 2, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Brewer will win anyway. Mutants are in the majority in Arizona, and they tend to vote for other mutants.

Posted by: CT on September 2, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Come on, you guys: This is obviously just another case of gotcha journalism by the liberal MSM. How can Gov. Brewer be expected to have a scripted response to a question when the reporters haven't already told her what they're going to ask?

Posted by: Kris on September 2, 2010 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

Lucky she is a Republican. Their voters are more forgiving of foibles and screw ups (David Vitter, anyone?) so long as you rigorously toe the party line, and fight the Enemy. Whoever the Enemy is at that moment.

Besides, when anything goes wrong, it is always the Enemy's fault (and ... consider David Vitter again).

Posted by: Bokonon on September 2, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

The fact that she is pulling her ads from a CBS affiliate to "punish" them for conducting an investigation of a possible conflict of interest with private prisons demonstrates the connection between Corporate Media and politicians running for office. As I have said repeatedly here and elsewhere, the purchasing of political campaign ads is part of the funding of mostly Republican corporations. Thus, the millions of dollars spent for TV and other media advertising is serving to fund the very corporations that are out to remove Democrats from political office. My solution is to have the opposition candidate schedule press conferences and directly address the lies and deceptive talking points posed by the Republican candidate. "Force" the press to cover these events by burying them in press releases and public forums(forii?). They can avoid debates, but they can't forever avoid press conferences and press releases.

I won't contribute to a candidate if they are using the money to buy TV time from CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, CNN. It is like funding the Taliban with bribes using U.S. taxpayer money.

Posted by: st john on September 2, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Sarah Palin Political Advice

Don't RETREAT (to a dark empty supply closet) Govenor Brewer, RESIGN (like I did)! Then go on Fuxnews and say your RELOADING.

The next time that perky gotcha journalist asks you about beheaded mexicans in the dessert, push up your tits, wink at the camera and tell her that your're an expert on immigration because you can see Mexico from your porch (Write it on your palm if you need to).

Another example of the librul elitist lamestream media attacking a good, clean, pure, real American, instead of the illegals who are making a mess in our pristine dessert by spilling their blood everywhere.

Make consultant fee check for $50,000 out to TPA/PAC care of SARA/PAC care of Northstar Consulting, Inc. LLP.

Posted by: Winkandanod on September 2, 2010 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

also,

brewer may have to debate Goddard again, simply because she did so poorly.

She may need to rebrunish her image.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on September 2, 2010 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Man, Brewer looks like she's in the early stages of dementia.

Posted by: chrenson on September 2, 2010 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

also,

brewer may have to debate Goddard again, simply because she did so poorly.

She may need to rebrunish her image.

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on September 2, 2010 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

That would be hilarious if it weren't so freaking tragic. That is one seriously stupid woman.

AZ, I was mad at you, but now you've earned my pity.

Posted by: fourlegsgood on September 2, 2010 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Something about all this suggests to me she'll claim a campaign-related injury and withdraw just in time to be replaced by someone more extreme, but unexamined and therefore more electable.

Posted by: truth=freedom on September 2, 2010 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Growing up, one of my childhood friends had an annoying habit - if we were playing at his house, we had to do whatever he wanted. Because it was HIS house. If we were at my house, we had to do whatever he wanted. Because he was MY GUEST.

Needless to say, he tends to swing right politically as an adult. Because it's what the right often does, change the rules of the game so they have a better chance of winning. And they especially use the tactic when it comes to sex. Or rather, gender. If a female politician is a Democrat, they'll attack her with the same glee they'd attack a Democratic male. And then they'd gloat that they don't have to pull punches just because the subject of their attack is a woman. Women's lib and all that, right? If they can't handle the heat, GO BACK to the kitchen, am I right fellas high five and all that bullcrap. See Clinton comma Hillary.

When it comes to female politicians who are Republican, it depends on whether or not they show spine. Someone like Palin, they ADORE because "She tells it like it is." They likes them their attack dogs, but especially their lady attack dogs (you really think I was going to get a cheap shot "bitch" in there? I'm better than that and so are you). Because in the mind of the Republican male, the only thing worse than getting your ass handed to you is getting your ass handed to you by a GIRL. And they assume all men feel the same way. So when Palin or Bachmann attack Dems, especially male Dems, they feel like the Dems getting a smackdown by their b-team.

But...BUT, when it comes to Brewer's problems, and her fiasco of a performance at this debate, they're going to put the kibosh on it right quick by demanding we LEAVE HER ALO-HO-HO-HOOOONE! You're beating up on a WOMAN! Feel good about that, tough guy?

And the media will comply and they'll live to screw Americans over another day.

Posted by: slappy magoo on September 2, 2010 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

Rational thought and considered reflection are always a bit thin on the ground here in the southern annex of Utah. The sheer idiocy exhibited by the Legislature and most of our local officials is truly world class. But the LDS mob mentality will prevail, this time by quietly allowing the teabaggers to move discussion away from the bread and butter giveaways that might otherwise garner more scrutiny. The Private Prison complex continues to grow here even as Arizona school districts lay off teachers because nobody makes money off teachers.

This is really an amazing place to watch politics at their worst.

Posted by: Bigsky on September 2, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

Heck, her meltdown on-camera will just solidify her real-Murrikan bona-fides with the legions of goobers who are innately suspicious of people who they suspect of being more competent and educated than they are. Her poll numbers will only go up.

Posted by: bluestatedon on September 2, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Just so everyone knows, Brewer had no choice but to participate in this debate. Both she and Goddard are Clean Elections candidates, which means the only campaign funding they get is first a required number of $5 contributions and then state funding that comes from the following revenue sources:

* 10% surcharge on all civil penalties and criminal fines
* Voluntary $5 check-off box on Arizona state income tax return forms.
* Voluntary dollar for dollar tax credit on donations of up to $640 or 20% state income tax amount whichever is greater.
* Civil penalties paid by candidates.
* $5 qualifying contributions collected from participating candidates.

(Source: http://www.azcleanelections.gov/about-us/funding.aspx)

Anyway, if you take clean election funds you HAVE to agree to at least one debate, run by the Clean Elections Commission and on Public TV. The other candidates (Libertarian and [pseudo] Green), which did not take funding, get invited anyway.

Just bragging about it because it was put in by initiative, some of the right wingers hate it, and it's at least something we do right.

Posted by: threegoal on September 2, 2010 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Amazing! Not Brewer's stupidity or cowardice, the fact that only one commentator on TPM -- and none here -- knows the 'backstory' to the private prison scandal.

The reason this is important is that there was a prison break at the Kingman private prison in July. The p[risoners were recaptured, but only after they had committed two more murders. (The prion was originally built to house DUIs and similar non-violent criminals but began to house murderers and lifers, without a major upgrade in security.) There was a full report on the incredible security conditions there -- http://www.azcorrections.gov/adc/news/2010/kingman_sec_review/Kingman_Assessment_1.pdf -- which makes you wonder why more prisoners didn't stroll away.

But you don't learn about things like this in the National blogs which have become more and more "Village-like." (Steve is an exception, but he's not capable of covering everything, he does a wonderful job with what he does.)

If you read the 'big boys' you'll find plenty about the horrible things the crazy republicans are doing -- but just try and find out who is running against them. (Quick, without looking, who is running aqgainst Rand Paul, or Linda McMahon, or John Boehner -- and those should be easy ones.)

You'll also get articles insisting on how doomed to lose we are -- and tons of comments showing the same contempt for the average American as the Republicans show. "Mutants" "retards" "fools" etc. (

Will someone remember that democrats -- not to say Democrats -- are supposed to believe in the wisdom of the common voter, even if they can get fooled for a while. Instead, we get Menckenian contempt for the 'booboisie' more suitable to the elitist opponent of every New Deal measure that Mencken was -- even more suitable for someone whose greatest criticism of Hitler was that he was a 'buffoon' which was also Mencken.

Do me a favor. After you read Steve -- which is, literally, the first thing I do every morning after shuttting off my alarm clock and putting on my reading glasses -- start looking around at the state centered blogs, that are still concerned with real politics, and not the monocled viewing of the odd fauna in the shrubbery that even the best of the Big Names like TPM, TP, and C&L have become.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on September 2, 2010 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

"...some of the right wingers hate it, and it's at least something we do right."

Which guarantees that the AZ nutters will have it high on their target list of horrible librul things to get rid of.

Posted by: bluestatedon on September 2, 2010 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

@Prup: Do me a favor. After you read Steve -- which is, literally, the first thing I do every morning after shuttting off my alarm clock and putting on my reading glasses -- start looking around at the state centered blogs, that are still concerned with real politics, and not the monocled viewing of the odd fauna in the shrubbery that even the best of the Big Names like TPM, TP, and C&L have become.

Point well taken.

As an aside to this story, may I say I'm mightily impressed with the local news there in Arizona? They actually seem to be functioning as "real" press!

Posted by: June on September 2, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

And yet people make fun of Alvin Greene.

Go figure.

Posted by: kc on September 2, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK
As an aside to this story, may I say I'm mightily impressed with the local news there in Arizona? They actually seem to be functioning as "real" press!

Only to an extent! The Arizona Republic's most progressive columnist mostly emphasized how this was not really a debate, and lamented there likely won't be the 5-6 single topic debates all over the state that are called for by Terry Goddard. The Republic has not covered the private prison issue as well as Channel 5, but they are good at printing stories that Joe Arpaio does not like. They endorsed the Democrat over him in 2008, BTW.

Posted by: threegoal on September 2, 2010 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Brewer responded, not with a defense, but by punishing the affiliate by pulling her campaign ads from the network."

The network or the station? Rachel kept saying that last night, too. Did they pull ads from other CBS affiliates in the state, or does everyone keep using the same wrong word?

Although I'm not sure I see the scandal. It would be pretty embarrassing to have one of my campaign ads come on right after (or before) one of the reports. Is it really normal for politicians to buy lots of ad time on stations that are pursuing stories that cut against their candidacies.

St. John: "I won't contribute to a candidate if they are using the money to buy TV time from CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, CNN. "

Doesn't that pretty much preclude contributing to any candidate that has a chance to win an election? Am I missing the large number of candidates who win without significant TV advertising?

Posted by: drkrick on September 2, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

She reminded me of Aunt Clara, Samantha's addled-brained, door-knob-collecting relative from the old TV series Bewitched. Except that Aunt Clara was lovable!

Posted by: Carol on September 2, 2010 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

George Bush was reelected. Politickin' is hard!

Posted by: flubber on September 2, 2010 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe the beheadings are being done by escapees from the private prisons.

Posted by: Cal Gal on September 3, 2010 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

Most white people in AZ have had their brains fried by the heat (and they weren't too smart to begin with, moving there), so Brewer is probably in the upper 10 percent of the IQ bracket she's looking to for support.

Posted by: TCinLA on September 3, 2010 at 12:38 AM | PERMALINK

I live here.

Brewer is the next Sec of state (R) that inherited the spot from a former Gov. . The recent example was Jane Hull who got it from Fyfe Symington (R) and now Jan, who got it from the estimable Janet Napolitano (D). WE have the atrocious Jon Kyl (R) and the ineffectual J. McCain (R) for the Good Ol' Boys club and more than a few jackals (R) for the Hoose. My own is the embarassing T. Franks (R!).

Sometimes I think the incendiary sun HAS roasted the feeble brains of the electorate.

Posted by: Randall on September 3, 2010 at 1:53 AM | PERMALINK

As embarassing a performance as this was, I don't see it harming Brewer's re-election prospects. This is Arizona we're talking about. Look at the quality of politican that comes from that state: Fife Symington (who beat Goddard before), Evan Mecham, Joe Arpaio, Jon Kyl, J.D. Hayworth. Next to these rodeo clowns, John McCain looks like a statesman.

Posted by: bucky on September 3, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

Really sad. After following the stages of Alzeimer's with my stepfather, I see the signs here as plain as day. Hence the long pause and vacant smile. But it's the confabulation or fantasizing that is the most striking. We have to realize that Governor Brewer probably believes the stories she tells because the truth has gotten mixed up in her mind due to the brain damage. It's easy to make fun of her and MSNBC was most unkind.
Katherine van Wormer
Professor of Social Work
University of Northern Iowa

Posted by: katherine van wormer on September 3, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not being facetious or hypercritical -- Governor Brewer shows serious signs of mental problems... My first guess is alcoholism...

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