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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Fight surrounding Brewer’s health ridiculous on all sides

The past few weeks have been spent speculating on the state of Gov. Jan Brewer’s health, with bloggers suggesting that she could be suffering from anything ranging from dementia or a stroke, to cancer. But some unofficial guess of a diagnosis is not going to be my reason for not voting for her.

I’m not voting for Brewer because she reminds me of an awkward turtle trapped on its back. Watching Brewer’s arms and legs flail in the effort to right herself during her campaign is painful enough, and I don’t want to watch that for four years.

Last week, John Dougherty, former U.S. Senate candidate and an investigative journalist, claimed in Facebook and Twitter posts that “”there are persistent reports from reliable sources”” that Brewer is too “”seriously ill”” to finish a four-year term.

Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry Goddard recently released his health records, and called on Brewer to do the same.

Brewer brushed off the doubts about her health as “”just outrageous”” and said Dougherty had “”zero credibility.”” Dougherty said he stood by his source, whom he claimed worked in the governor’s office. He also said he would not risk his reputation as a journalist to make unsubstantiated claims against Brewer.

On his blog, Brewer’s campaign adviser Chuck Coughlin posted a 20-year-old transcript of an interview in which a nameless speaker alleged Goddard, a married father, was gay.

Coughlin quickly apologized and backpedaled as if he could just take back what he suggested about Brewer’s competition. The Brewer camp was illustrating a point, he said. He wanted to make it clear that Brewer’s health is as irrelevant as Goddard’s sexual orientation.

That did not go as planned, and there is still no accounting for why Brewer thinks stubbornly refusing to answer questions will convince people that she is in perfect health.

When Dougherty pointed out a band-aid she was wearing in a photo and said it was from a thyroid biopsy, reporters asked about the band-aid. Brewer said she’d been wearing a few, but did not remember the one on her chest, despite the photograph.

None of this criticism validates Dougherty’s claims, which appear to rely solely on the testimony of one anonymous guy whose credibility cannot be evaluated. The speculation over Brewer’s health is unfounded and unnecessary, an effort to draw voters away from the issues. That said, her response to speculation is poor and will not win voters over.

In typical Brewer fashion, she retreated from questions and lashed out at others to deflect attention from herself. She also distanced herself from Coughlin, though he is her top adviser and she should have expected to be linked to him immediately after his blog post. Then she pretended to fail to remember an incident (which, given the context, was easily not of her most persuasive moments).

Brewer has this habit of pasting a vacant-eyed grin on her face every time she’s asked a difficult question. It turns out she also does it when she’s asked simple ones, like why anyone could suggest she is too sick to be capable of finishing a four-year term. This is probably why bloggers thought it would be OK to suggest she had a stroke before her infamous 16 seconds of silence during the gubernatorial debate.

I will not spend Nov. 2 seriously considering Dougherty’s Facebook status updates or his anonymous source in the governor’s office. It would be unfortunate if Brewer were sick, especially too sick to complete a full term if elected, but her handling of the controversy ought to be the real deal breaker.

— Kristina Bui is a sophomore majoring in journalism and political science. She can be reached at

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