Feathered Bastard

Who's Afraid of CNN's Rick Sanchez? Governor Janet Napolitano

Arpaio defending Nappy on Rick Sanchez's CNN broadcast.

Why won't the Napster go on CNN anchor Rick Sanchez's afternoon show? Following President elect Barack Obama's pick of Arizona Governor Napolitano to be his administration's Homeland Security czar, Sanchez has repeatedly invited Nappy to be on his show and answer some tough questions about her "cozy" relationship with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. But true to her craven self, Napolitano refuses to grant Sanchez an interview, despite the fact that the Cuban-American newscaster has been regularly chiding Nappy on his CNN blog for not going on his program to face the heat.

Recently, he compared her to an Atlanta, Georgia official who was dodging Sanchez over a different issue. In a December 5 blog post, he wrote the following:

Just a reminder to...Governor Napolitano of Arizona, whom I've also invited to be on our show, and who is now ready to accept a cabinet position.

But she's not ready to explain to us why in the 1990's she failed to act on abuses against some of the least powerful citizens of her state.

She may have a perfectly good explanation, as might the Commissioner of Clayton County, Georgia. That's why we want to hear it.

That's how a democracy works, when you work for the people, you owe them an explanation.

That's why we're here: to ask the questions that people (about a thousand when I last checked on MySpace, Twitter, Facebook and this blog) want answered.

Well done, Mr. Sanchez! Far better than the pusillanimous press corps here in Sand Land, the members of which have been falling all over themselves to kiss Janet's backside as she exits stage right. A perfect example of this lame local boosterism is a comment made by Phoenix Magazine columnist (and erstwhile New Times editor) Jana Bommersbach for this Sunday's "Viewpoints" section in the Arizona Republic.  

"I watched with pride as Gov. Janet Napolitano was introduced by President-elect Barack Obama on national television as the new Secretary of Homeland Security," gushed Bommersbach. "And, I thought, what an awesome leader for an awesome job."

Gee, Jana, if Nappy were a guy, I'd say you'd pulled out the kneepads for her. Bommersbach later added, "I know Napolitano couldn't turn this down, but boy are we going to miss her vision and leadership."

Can someone please pass the barf bucket? Janet's vision extends about as far as her career goals, and no farther. She leaves Arizona in the hole financially, and near rock bottom nationally when it comes to educating the state's rugrats, her main issue while in office.

Also, because of her incompetent leadership as the titular head of the Arizona Democratic Party, she's leaving the state in the firm, far-right grip of the Republinuts. Democrats should remember this well when Janet returns to Cactus Country someday, as she inevitably will, to run for U.S. Senate.

But back to Sanchez, the reason why Nappy's dodging the pro-immigration newsman is  because he's got her number. Nappy does have a special relationship with Joe Arpaio. She apparently did cut a deal with him back in the '90s, helping him put a positive spin on a Justice Department investigation of his office while she was still U.S. Attorney for the state of Arizona.

(Also, as detailed for the first time in Village Voice Media Executive Editor Mike Lacey's recent cover story on Napolitano, then U.S. Attorney Napolitano declined to prosecute Arpaio in the brutal jail house death of Scott Norberg, despite being presented with "evidence of a criminal conspiracy and the destruction of evidence.")

Later, in what smelled like a stinky quid pro quo, Arpaio essentially endorsed Nappy for Governor during her first gubernatorial campaign in 2002. It was a close race, and Arpaio's
assistance helped Napolitano squeak past Republican Matt Salmon. Republicans were so incensed that Joe'd done this, some blamed him for their loss of the Governor's seat. And in 2004, when Joe was up for reelection, the state GOP threw its weight behind Dan Saban in the primary, as Saban was a Republican at the time.

Napolitano helped Arpaio land his 287(g) agreement with Homeland Security's ICE, which allows his office to enforce federal immigration law, harass Hispanics on a regular basis, and
violate the constitutional rights of anyone with brown skin. She's never criticized Arpaio -- whether it's on immigration, the medieval conditions of his jails, his abuse of power, or the murders of those in his custody. Nor did Napolitano endorse Saban this year while he was running as a Dem against Arpaio in the general election. The Democratic Party turned their backs on Joe's challenger, largely because it was in Napolitano's best interest.

Surely Nappy was thrilled to let ol' Joe go on the Sanchez program to defend her. Arpaio's not afraid to take some shots on her behalf, but once again, people should question the reason
why. Why would Arpaio go on TV to defend Nappy? Is it just Italian-American camaraderie? Or is it because Janet's about to give Arpaio a free ride on his 287(g) authority, throughout her tenure in the Obama administration?