Arizona governor Jan Brewer is threatening to cost powerful people money and power through actions such as signing that state's new anti-illegal immigration law. Their lower-level hacks are currently swinging into action, deliberately misinterpreting a quote Brewer made in a disreputable attempt to claim that she inflated her father's war record [UPDATE: Statement from Brewer below]. Some are listed below, and if you find others please leave a comment.
During World War 2, Brewer's father worked at a Navy munitions depot in Nevada; he died in 1955 as a result of lung disease from that job. Brewer made the quote that's being misinterpreted in an interview with the Arizona Republic (link) where she spoke about the names she's been called:
"The Nazi comments . . . they are awful... Knowing that my father died fighting the Nazi regime in Germany, that I lost him when I was 11 because of that . . . and then to have them call me Hitler's daughter. It hurts. It's ugliness beyond anything I've ever experienced."
If Noam Chomsky were here, he might point out that there are various ways to interpret that quote, such as "died [as a later result of] fighting the Nazi regime in Germany", or "died fighting the Nazi regime [which was located] in Germany". In order to obtain the result that illegal immigration supporters want you to obtain, you're going to need to forget about very basic math: if she meant to say he died during World War 2, the youngest she could be is 76. No one in their right mind would think she's 76. If she were trying to lie, she would have adjusted her age downward in the quote to "when I was one years old". Further, in a speech a few months ago she described the backstory (link):
The governor's father did fight the Nazis and support the war effort, but he did it here at a munitions plant in the United States, not as a soldier in the European theater.
Brewer recounted the story of her father's war service during a March breakfast speech in the East Valley, saying that “Wilford Drinkwine believed his country needed him during World War II.”
In that speech, Brewer recalled how that belief prompted Drinkwine to move his family to the Nevada desert to take a job at the country's largest Navy munitions depot. She was born a year or two later; her father succumbed to lung disease before she was a teenager.
“Years of breathing poisonous fumes around harsh chemicals finally took his life,” Brewer said in that speech. “Wilford Drinkwine was my father. I was 11 years old.”
Those smearing Brewer include the following. None of the following attempt to explain how - if one is to buy their interpretation of her comments - Brewer would be claiming to be at least 76 years old. None except the first reference the fact that she's told the accurate story in past instances:
* Dennis Welch of the Arizona Guardian
He appears to be the originator of the smear, and his article starts with: "Gov. Jan Brewer said in a recent interview that her father died fighting Nazis in Germany. In fact, the death of Wilford Drinkwine came 10 years after World War II had ended." That's then followed by:
"She wasn't embellishing the story at all," [Paul Senseman, the governor's spokesman] said Tuesday. "You're reading something into this that isn't there."
He added that the governor has been very clear in the past about how her father died. Drinkwine was on full medical disability at the time of his death, Senseman said.
In a 2008 interview with the Republic, Brewer said her family was forced to move to California shortly before his death because of his health problems.
Brewer, 65, recounts similar stories in other media interviews and recent speeches.
Dennis Welch knew about what she's said about her background in the past, but choose to deliberately misinterpret her quote instead.
* Kos of DailyKos
He refers to the "Latino ethnic cleansing law" and says, "Ah yes, claiming her father died fighting Nazis in Germany should, in no way, be construed as implying that her father died fighting Nazis in Germany." Needless to say, he's deliberately misinterpreting her quote.
* Steve Benen of Washington Monthly
His post is entitled "WHEN REPUBLICANS LIE ABOUT RELATIVES' SERVICE RECORDS" and he references and parrots Kos: "I'm confused. When Brewer said her "father died fighting the Nazi regime in Germany," that wasn't intended to mean that her father was an American soldier in Germany during the Nazi regime?"
As with the others, what he claims she said is simply his misinterpretation.
While comparisons equating Brewer with Nazis are over the top and not constructive, Brewer’s anecdote doesn’t really stack up. The Arizona Guardian reports that in fact, “the death of Wilford Drinkwine came 10 years after World War II had ended. During the war, Drinkwine worked as a civilian supervisor for a naval munitions depot in Hawthorne, Nev. He died of lung disease in 1955 in California.” Brewer’s spokesman justified the governor’s statement, claiming Drinkwine “eventually died from the toxic fumes he inhaled” while working at the factory. (HT: Markos)
Of course, what doesn't "stack up" is Terkel's interpretation of Brewer's quote. The spokesman's comment isn't a "justification", it's an explanation.
* Ben Smith of the Politico
He links the AZ Republic interview and the Arizona Guardian story, but fails to do any more reporting than any of the others listed who are open about being partisans.
* Ben Frumin of TalkingPointsMemo
His post, which isn't as bad as some others, does include this:
It seems entirely possible that Brewer simply meant that her father died of an illness that was a direct cause of his employment at a wartime munitions factor.
UPDATE: Brewer has released a statement (link):
"My father, Wilford Drinkwine, moved our family before I was born from Minnesota to Nevada to work at the Hawthorne Ammunition Depot in Western Nevada at the outset of World War II. He passed away when I was 11 years old. His death came after a long and painful battle with lung disease, contracted following years of exposure to hazardous chemicals and toxic fumes while working as a civil servant at the base.
"I loved my father and was proud to hear him tell me that he was doing his part to help fight the Nazis in Germany. It's a similar story that I have heard from countless people from my parent's generation -- from women who worked in the factories to other family friends I met growing up near the depot. My father and mother instilled in me an understanding that many of those defenders of freedom who lost their lives in World War II never set foot on the battlefield.
"Even in the end, when my dad struggled for breath, he never regretted serving his country, helping free Europe from Hitler's grip. I have proudly recounted his story in many places for many years. My father's patriotism and sacrifice needs no embellishment."
Wed, 06/02/2010 - 15:07 · Importance: 4