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Maybe we should. But the president knows it’s not going to happen between now and the 2012 election. Furthermore he is well aware that the Supreme Court will rule on Arizona’s immigration bill prior to the election as well. A critical part of that decision centers around the ability of state officials to check the immigration status of anyone they detain who they suspect is here illegally. Whatever the Court decides will have a substantial impact on the election, as well as stricter immigration laws adopted by Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah.
Portions of Arizona’s original statute were blocked by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton and subsequently upheld by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. When it goes to the Supreme Court, only eight Justices will be taking it up. Elena Kagan has recused herself because of her former position as the Obama administration’s solicitor general. If the Court ends up split 4-4, the current ruling–a win for the Obama administration–would stand.
Adding to the intrigue is the current disposition of Arizona’s role in the race for the presidency. As of last November, A Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll showed Obama’s approval rating in Arizona at only 41 percent. Furthermore, he currently trails Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in a head-to-head match-up by around six points. Yet some Democrats believe the traditionally conservative state can be won if they can energize Hispanic voters who comprise roughly one-third of the state’s electorate. Part of the strategy being employed towards that end is labeling any support for the Arizona statute as racist. And while the president himself doesn’t go that far, he has made it clear that he supports the Justice Department’s efforts to get the law overturned.
As for the current incident itself, media reports indicate that, as always, who was disrespecting whom appears to be driven by ideology as well. In an interview yesterday, Brewer claims she talks a lot with her hands and meant no disrespect when she pointed her finger at the president. “I respect the office of the president,” she said. “I was there to welcome him.” Yet the Arizona Republic, the state’s largest newspaper, contended that Brewer’s finger-wagging “now pretty much defines this state’s relationship with Washington, D.C. to the world.” The two mayors also at the airport to greet the president, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, a Republican, and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, wanted nothing to do with the incident. Neither were available for comment. As for those who have a healthy suspicion of the media itself, one is left to wonder whether the photograph itself represents a defined moment of pointing, or a freeze frame of a larger hand gesture that would be far less “newsworthy” (read: “controversy-generating”) if the full context were known.
Right now the incident is getting a lot of play–all of which will be long forgotten when a decision on the Arizona law by the Supreme Court is finally rendered.
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