The Ed Show | January 26, 2012
>>> arizona governor john braeuer brewer has spent the last 24 hours trashing the president of the united states , to just about anybody who will listen. this photograph of brewer pointing her finger at president obama in phoenix yesterday was the governor's ticket to a series of media appearances. she seemed to be on a mission to portray the president as a menacing guy.
>> i was trying to be very gracious to him, and he just reacted in a very negative manner of which took me back. and he immediately took umbrage, if you will, with my back that i wrote, "scorpions for breakfast," and was somewhat of disgruntled, if you will. in my opinion, it was a terrible encounter. i don't know why he was surprised by my book, but he evidently is and he was very thin skinned in regards to it. i felt a little bit threatened, if you will, in the attitude that he had.
>> threatened. that's the word she used to describe the encounter. their conversation took place on the tarmac in front of the president's security team and the entire press corps, but she was threatened, felt threatened. the president apparently told brewer a passage in her new book about an oval office meeting between the two of them was, well, inaccurate. brewer was the one jabbing her finger in the president's face. but she wants us to believe that she felt threatened. here's president obama 's side of the story.
>> i think it's always good publicity for a republican if they're in an argument with me. but this was really not a big deal .
>> were you tense?
>> you know, diane, i'm usually accused of not being tense enough, right? too relaxed.
>> so you weren't?
>> i'm joined by dr. james peterson , director of africana studies and associate professor of english at lehie university. good to have yo with us tonight.
>> how you doing, ed?
>> she said she felt threatened. two questions. first of all, what's your reaction to the picture and what's your reaction to her saying she felt threatened.
>> first, the picture is absurd. it's pretty offensive. this is not the way that you interact with the president of the united states . and we know the context of this. we haven't seen this kind of disrespect directed at any of the presidents during my lifetime. and let me say one other thing about the picture. there is no grace at pointing your finger in someone's face. however she's trying to characterize her side of the interaction, it gets sort of erased by the fact that you have your finger waved in the president's face. we've had an ongoing conversation, ed, with you, yourself, other folk on your show, about the ways in which republicans and other folk on the right are coding some of their language around situations of race. this idea that somehow a black man, just by being a black man, is going to be threatening is really, really problematic. the bottom line here is this is one of the most mild-mannered, moderate folk that people have ever done. anyone who's interacted with him has said as much. the idea that he would be menacing or trying to intimidate the governor simply doesn't make sense.
>> well, when you look at her history, and some of the things that she has advocated for as far as illegal immigration , young -- and coupling with that picture, do you think jan brewer has a problem with race?
>> if we judged her by her policies, remember, this is what's strange about this as well. because from the left, the president has been fairly conservative on immigration issues. obviously, from the right, they feel like he's been to the left, which is the mark of a good moderate. but there should be no beef between governor brewer and the president based upon some of these issues. what the attorney general's office did is they realized that governor brewer was willing to racially profile latino and hispanic folk and anyone who looked like them throughout the state of arizona . that is unacceptable. we live in a free country. so there's no -- you know, from my mind, the policy here is really, really important to consider as well.
>> the interaction was about a disagreement over the way brewer portrayed a meeting that took place with the president back in 2010 . it was in her new book. here's what brewer had to say about her oval office meeting, right after it happened.
>> it was a very cordial discussion.
>> what was the tone like?
>> very cordial. very, very cordial.
>> very cordial. well, brewer's book tells a different story. she calls the president condescending and pratronizing. so which one do you believe?
>> someone here is lying and it's not the president of the united states .
>> she's lying?
>> yes, clearly. she came out and said that it was cordial, that the interaction was cordial. she repeated that there, but she had to write something different, because her book is more about policy and politics than about the truth.
>> and do you think that she actually used this moment to get visibility and to sell a book?
>> well, i think that all people in the public eye , especially those folk on the right, but the folk on the left do this as well, use books as leveraging tools to promote themselves. they use photo opes like these as leveraging opportunities to promote themselves. this is just a little bit more seedy than what we normally see. because, one, she's playing on issues of race and that's completely unnecessary, and two, she's not telling the truth. she didn't tell the truth in the book about the interaction. obviously, she's not telling the truth about this finger-wagging interaction she just had recently.
>> mayor scott smith of mesa, arizona, was there during the conversation in phoenix. he disputes brewer's story about president obama being tense and running off after the conversation, cutting her short. talking points memos reports mayor smith said, "there was no sense that he was running to or from anything. in fact, he said the president stayed and had a pleasant conversation with smith, who's a republican, and phoenix mayor greg stanton, a democrat." what does this tell you?
>> again, it tells us that governor brewer is trying to play with the facts in order to enhance this photo opportunity .
>> and then she does the media tour.
>> she's doing the grandstanding and the media tour, gaming on all of this. that picture, i think, despicable, and i don't care who the president is, no president deserves to be put in that position, and for her to say that she felt threatened, right next to air force one and all of the security teams and all of the media, she felt threatened? what did she think president obama was going to do?
>> right, what is he going to do? is he going to hit you? do you think he's going to smack -- it's insane. but this is where we are in politics right now, ed. where we are in politics right now, people play the race card , people will manipulate imagery in the public sphere to try to tell lies. the bottom line is with we've got to improve the public discourse around politics.
>> dr. james peterson , good to have yo with us tonight. thank you so much.