Meet Obama’s (Likely) Cabinet: 7 Things to Know About Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Chief

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Her bio :  Napolitano is the 21st Governor of Arizona.  She “brings law and order experience from her stint as the Grand Canyon State’s first female attorney general. One of the nation’s most prominent female elected officials, she made frequent appearances on behalf of Barack Obama during the campaign. She was reelected to a second four-year term in 2006…In 2005, Time magazine named her one of America’s five best governors, calling her ‘A Mountaineer on the Political Rise.'” (Politico)

She’s taken tough stances against immigration:  “As governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano last year signed into law the nation’s harshest penalty for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants, a measure that would take away their business licenses for a second violation.  She called it the “business death penalty” and the “most aggressive action in the country” to stem the flow of illegal workers.”  (LA Times)

But sometimes she’s more centrist:  “Napolitano says she’s committed to creating a streamlined legal path to citizenship.  ‘People have this idea that the illegal immigrant is this guy who sneaks up to our border with a backpack full of dope, swims the Rio Grande, and skulks into our communities,’ Napolitano says. ‘In fact, over half the illegal immigrants came in legally but over-stayed their visas.  You’d do better in a new country if the possibility of citizenship is held out to you.  But under current law, no matter how hard you work, how many children you raise — you can still get hauled away.'”  (More)

She fought for education:  “Beginning in 2003, Napolitano gave every first-grade student in Arizona a free storybook and later extended her program to fourth-graders. For many children, it was the first book to call their own.  These small symbols, plus her strident use of the bully pulpit and grand visions, were part of the Democrat’s six-year drive to become the ‘Education Governor.’…Educators agree that Napolitano’s most substantial contributions were providing free full-day kindergarten, allocating new money to rebuild dilapidated buildings on state university campuses and preventing cuts to existing education budgets.  (Arizona Republic)

She’s been involved with some big name cases:  Napolitano gained “national attention as a lawyer for Anita Hill in her 1991 sexual harassment case against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. In 1993, she was acting U.S. attorney pending confirmation when the Justice Department decided not to prosecute Cindy McCain, the wife of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), for stealing prescription drugs from a nonprofit she ran.” (Washington Post)

She’s larger than life:  “This is a woman who has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and survived breast cancer. She cracks herself up by quoting Monty Python. (Indeed, she’s constantly smiling and laughing, from giggles to deep belly laughs to ironical gasps.) She is a powerful, self-possessed speaker, so it’s surprising to discover she’s only 5-foot-4. Napolitano likes to joke about being old, but in reality, at 50 she is young for a governor, with much of her political future ahead of her.” (American Prospect)

She’s already been parodiedThe brief impersonation by cast member Kristen Wiig came during host Paul Rudd’s opening monologue.  Rudd discussed the show’s popular political impersonations and assured the audience there were plenty of good impressions left to do.  That included Napolitano…Wiig then came out donning Napolitano’s hairstyleshort and black with a gray spot in the front. She walked offstage awkwardly after giving an oversimplified answer on how she would secure the U.S.-Mexico border. (AP)

Posted by: Mariela

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