Her confirmation will be the hot fight ticket in the beltway. No I am not talking about Senator Clinton I am talking about Governor Napolitano.
While pundits and bloggers continue their Clinton obsession (now both right and left are Hillary addicted) right wing strategists are targeting Governor Janet Napolitano for confirmation fun and games. Unlike the media types like Dick Morris and Hugh Hewitt who need to fill their philosophical void with good old fashioned Clinton bashing the real GOP strategists know that the Senate will confirm Clinton and that she will be the next Secretary of State. While there is sure to be a couple of embarrassing names on the Clinton Foundation donor list, the Clinton Foundation projects funded are laudable and President Clinton will be seen as no more guilty than a preacher who takes tithes from his sinner parishioners.
The Governor of the great state of Arizona lives a different circumstance. Napolitano will be portrayed as a sinner pretending to be the preacher. The country has tired of duplicity and the GOP knows this better than anyone.
Governor Napolitano has tried to be a centrist on the hot button issue of immigration but has allowed the local Lou Dobbs types to define the center. While the border state Governor defied the implementation of the national ID card she did so on the moral neutral grounds of cost. Only immigrant advocate insiders who understood what the impact of her decision was were appeased. In another instance Napolitano famously sent the National Guard to secure the Arizona border but only allowed them to work on the fence which by the way she opposed. Once again pleasing no one and most importantly having no policy or real life impact on the issue itself.
Perhaps there is no way for a border governor to have survived the last few years without a few cynical maneuvers. The fact that Napolitano has survived should be an indication of her dexterity and ability to manage under pressure which current Homeland Security Chief Chertoff seemed to be learning on the job. But the GOP strategists have found a weak link in the proposed Obama team and need to deliver some red meat to the right wing anti-immigrant talk radio base. In addition while Napolitano's strategy seems to have worked in practice in favor of immigration advocates her moral ambiguity on the issue leaves her with few passionate supporters. So Napolitano, not Clinton, is the GOP confirmation hearing target.
The GOP will attempt to have it both ways saying to general market audiences that Napolitano is weak on immigration issues while telling Latinos that she cannot be trusted to implement fair and compassionate policy.
Obama to his great credit has so far placed competence over politics when choosing his cabinet. The President -elect's great faith in the American people overrides any concern he might have about how angry GOP strategists are that their holidays are not what they used to be. While most of us joyfully welcome the nominations and get ready for our holiday feasts the right is plotting like the Grinch in its cave, In short Governor Napolitano, the knives you hear sharpening are not for the Christmas Turkey.