Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, and President Obama had a brief verbal smackdown when she greeted him at the Phoenix airport on Wednesday.
In her political memoir, “Scorpions for Breakfast,” the feisty governor had written about a private discussion she had with the president in the Oval Office back in June 2010. She describes his style in that meeting as patronizing and condescending.
Apparently, the president did not appreciate that characterization and, when she asked him for another meeting as she greeted him on the airport tarmac, he let her know it. An exchange ensued in which Brewer could be seen jabbing her finger at the president.
The governor later said she meant no disrespect and that maybe Obama was a bit thin-skinned.
The two are at odds over Arizona’s tough new immigration law that requires law enforcement officers to demand identity papers of anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. That, and other sections of the law, are being challenged in the Supreme Court by Obama’s Justice Department.
The time is long passed when U.S. presidents could expect much deference from anyone, especially from a member of the opposition party. Between appearances with Jay Leno and Oprah Winfrey and the general nastiness of partisan politics these days, the presidency has lost much of its aura of majesty. Presidents now are more like British prime ministers -- open to confrontation, even during an airport greeting.
Actually, Brewer seemed a bit shaken by the encounter -- but not so shaken that she would pass up an appearance on Fox News later in the day. The governor got some good face time and elevated her already high standing among her state’s many Obama-haters.
Some Brewer fans were so impressed, they are starting to talk up the idea that she should be No. 2 on the Republican ticket this fall, no matter who the No. 1 may be.