America's most puzzling governor

Despite being in the news as much as any governor short of Chris Christie, she remains a strangely blank slate, a tabula rasa on which Arizonans and other Americans have drawn a set of contradictory caricatures. Who is Jan Brewer? Is she the Tea Party heroine, the sun-bleached Sarah Palin of the Desert who signed SB 1070, the “show your papers” anti-illegal immigrant bill, and waved her finger in President Obama’s face on an airport tarmac? Is she the traitor to conservative causes who accepted Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion and battled her Republican legislature to get it implemented? Is she the seemingly overwhelmed, unelected governor of her first term who struggled to articulate basic positions? Or is she the woman who strode to the podium last week and not only slapped down a veto of a bill dear to the religious right, but did it with a brief, blunt statement the New Yorker’s Hendrick Hertzberg called “a damn good speech”? On that, no one can seem to agree.

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