Column: Warfare in the shadow of California
Some people call it "Short Man Syndrome," a term that refers to an undersized man's obsession to compensate for his limited inches by physically asserting himself to prove he's a man. I think Arizona suffers from "Small State Syndrome."
How else could you explain Gov. Jan Brewer's expected election victory in November and U.S. Sen. John McCain's continued support from voters in Arizona? Think about it. No one I know ever votes for McCain, but he keeps his job election after election. He knows what gets him elected, and he must have shared his secret with Brewer.
Many Arizonans see themselves and their state as the red-headed stepchild of the United States. I think it comes from being adjacent to California. Arizona goes out of its way to be the opposite of California, while secretly wishing it was the Golden State. It wants the hold the same power California enjoys because of its massive size, but it also wants to be nothing like California. This overcompensation manifests itself come election time.
Brewer, in particular, benefited from Small State Syndrome recently after she signed SB 1070. There is no way she, nor anyone else, could have anticipated the reaction across the country. She simply rode the wave. Check out her Clean Elections debate earlier this month or the train-wreck of a press conference that followed. The woman doesn't have a clue.
But she will win in November, because Arizonans love it when their state's elected representatives take on the big guys. They cheer on McCain when they see him on TV, then when he graces us with his presence, usually right before or after an election, they're giddy with excitement.
You should have seen when he visited the Miner last year after he lost the presidential election. You would have thought God himself had walked through the door.
"He's here!" one Miner employee squealed when McCain arrived, which meant, "Oooh, there's that guy on TV ... and he's stranding right there!" The senator, who eats this stuff up, was very gracious, and he took the time to introduce himself to every employee at the Miner, standing for pictures with more than half of them (us). He really is a nice guy.
After he left, the place was buzzing for hours. Photographer JC Amberlyn's work duties were immediately set aside so she could print off everyone's McCain picture, then people had to pass them around, laughing and giggling like school children the whole time.
Brewer understands Arizona's Small State Syndrome and is using it to dupe voters into choosing her over Democrat-and-much-more-qualified-to-be-governor Terry Goddard.
Once again, check out the debate on the Internet. It's the only one you'll see because Brewer refuses to debate Goddard again. The woman is completely lost, but she will win because Arizonans love a fighter, even punch-drunk ones.
Brewer's handlers are keeping her away from any cameras, while McCain is keeping himself away from opposition. When he came to Kingman recently, he did not meet with the general public. Last thing he needs is a Luca Zanna to question him about his actions.
Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan has picked up on this strategy by refusing to meet with the public to explain why he is so incompetent. He figured it's safer to meet with the Board of Supervisors. He knows they'll throw him only softballs. Heck, the BOS chairman, Buster Johnson, was awarded "Employee of the Year" from the company that runs the prison. Maybe Johnson will let Ryan sit on his lap Monday in case the public gets riled up.
It's funny. McCain has done very little for this state. He has been in the best position to take care of our illegal immigration problem over the last decades, but he's done nada. Any other politician, in any other state, would have been voted right out of office. But not McCain in Arizona. He's a maverick, you see, taking on the big wigs in Washington, which is the funny part. He is the big wig in Washington, but he's able to dupe most of the voters every election by making himself seem like David taking on Goliath. It's just plain pitiful.
And now Brewer is taking a page from McCain's best-selling book, "How to Elected in Arizona the Easy Way." Brewer would be out on her butt where she belongs after her headless immigrants comment a few months back if she was running in any other state, but this is Arizona. We like our politicians to have spunk and grit, you know, that Old West kind of thing.
God help us all if Sarah Palin ever decides to move to the Grand Canyon State.