It's always nice to read something good about Arizona in the news. Too often the news is about the latest anti-immigrant policy that got overwhelmingly passed or about the local senator making crazy, baseless promises about the federal budget.
That's why it was good to see the rather long article about Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano in the latest issue of The American Prospect. Arizona is often and with good reason considered a bastion of hardcore Republican ideology. It is, after all, the land of Barry Goldwater. The Goldwater paradigm has been pretty dominant for a pretty long time out in the west.
But Arizona is also home to former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. And maybe that means something too. Where Goldwater defined his career by saying that extremism in defense of liberty is no vice, O'Connor made her career as a centrist, defining sensible policy from the middle of the political spectrum.
Napolitano clearly belongs to the O'Connor school of Arizona political leadership, rather than the Goldwater model.
What she's been able to do in Arizona is pretty remarkable, given that she is a Democratic woman facing rabid Republican opposition. She has been able to push through a fairly progressive slate of initiatives (most notably full day kindergarten programs) by appealing to moderates, Democrats, and even some members of the traditional right.
The article makes clear that Napolitano is still on her way up in the political world. Let's hope so. We can use more bright people who know how to work both sides of the aisle.