by Pa Rock
At times I catch myself getting a little critical of Arizona, particularly Arizona politicians. It's easy to be critical in Maricopa County where we have a sheriff and a county attorney sharing a brain - and not a very good one, at that, where my congressman, Trent Franks and Beans, proves time and again that he is mostly beans, and where a Presidential visit is tantamount to a call to arms. Our U.S. Senators, Kyl and McCain, both have 3rd degree chapped lips from kissing the butts of every teabagger and know-nothing in the state, and the State Superintendent of Schools is openly contemptuous of education.
But there are some bright spots in this state. Five of the state's nine congresspeople are Democrats, and of those five, the brightest star is Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona's 8th Congressional District. I first became aware of this amazing young lady last spring when someone at one of her town hall meetings got so excited that he left his gun behind after the event. I instinctively knew that morons don't take guns to the events of other morons, which meant that Giffords must have something positive going for her.
And she does. The Tucson native is well educated. She received a B.A. in sociology and Latin American history from Scripps College in California, and completed a Master of Regional Planning at Cornell. She focused her studies on Mexico–United States relations while at Cornell. (Her congressional district is one of only ten in the United States that shares a border with Mexico.) Rep. Giffords was a Fulbright Scholar in Chihuahua, Mexico, and she has also been a fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has an education and a work history that served as an ideal preparation for service in Congress. (For years, my congressman in Missouri was a used car dealer who was openly suspicious of anyone with an education!)
Congresswoman Giffords fashions herself a "blue dog" Democrat, but that has to be political posturing because her record does not support that appellation. While in the Arizona legislature she worked tirelessly for improved health care, especially for women and children. She is also pro-choice and pro-gun control, garnering the endorsement of Emily's List and a grade of D+ from the National Rifle Association and a D- from the Gun Owners of America. Blue Dog, indeed!
Her primary strength, however, has to be in understanding what is going on in Mexico and in the logical support of comprehensive immigration reform that includes a guest worker program. She has her finger on the pulse of our neighbor to the south, noting recently that the maquilladora factory system - the one that came about when U.S. manufactures rushed across the Rio Grande for cheap labor after Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and screwed the unions - those same maquilladoras are now packing up and moving to Asia for even cheaper labor. It is illogical to think that unemployed Mexican factory workers are going to sit on the curb and starve when jobs are available in Los Estados Unidos. ("The United States" for you gringos who refuse to learn even an elemental smattering of Spanish.)
Congresswoman Giffords is married to astronaut Mark Kelly, making her the only current member of Congress to have a spouse who is a member of the Armed Forces, and the only member of Congress to ever have a spouse in space.
Gabrielle Giffords is one smart cookie, and the good citizens of Arizona's 8th are damned lucky to have her representing them in Washington! I may just have to move to Tucson!