Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A wag of the finger

We have no king or queen to embody our national identity. Our president is both head of state and political leader.

Last week, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer led a Phoenix airport tarmac welcoming committee. Local dignitaries greeted President Obama's arrival on Air Force One. The plane, black limousines, and sharply pressed uniforms screamed "head of state." Normally, political differences are put aside at this ceremonial moment.

Brewer either did not get the memo or, more likely, did not care. She chose this public moment as a time to wag her finger in the face of the president of the United States. In an act displayed on almost every front page and TV screen, she decided to make the ceremonial political.

Brewer apparently seized this opportunity to settle some personal score, later claiming she felt threatened by Obama. Whatever her intentions, her gesture appeared intended to put President Obama in his place, ignoring the fact that, in this instance, his place is in the Oval Office of the White House.

Gov. Brewer could have declined to be a part of the presidential greeting party. She might have claimed that she was too busy or that she needed to sort her socks. She is probably not unhappy about how far her book's lagging sales have jumped since her airport antic.

Shaking your finger at the president of the United States in public seems a strange way to show the respect for the office that the governor now claims. Boorish seems a better description.

Her action was not that of a citizen confronting President Obama, the politician. Instead, she insulted the nation.

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