Gov. Jan Brewer likes to cast herself in the tough-leader role - and sticking her finger in President Obama's face and jawing at him makes for a handy visual message to her political base. What the rest of the state, along with the nation, sees is boorish behavior from Arizona's top official.

The image, captured by a photographer as Brewer and Obama had what observers described as a tense discussion, gives the impression that the governor is lecturing the president - turnabout, perhaps, as she claims in her new book that Obama lectured her about immigration reform when they met in June 2010 in the Oval Office.

On Wednesday, Brewer handed Obama a handwritten letter, which she described as discussing immigration and inviting him to visit Arizona again and join her for a border tour. By all accounts, he told the governor her book mischaracterized their last meeting. Heated words were exchanged. Reporters nearby described the two leaders talking over each other, and then Obama walked away.

Brewer, as governor, represents all Arizonans and should act as an ambassador for our state. Obama was in Phoenix to visit a major economic accomplishment - a new Intel plant - and the tiff on the tarmac was graceless. Arizona has already taken an economic hit because of publicity surrounding the passage of anti-Latino laws, such as SB 1070.

After initially contending that the letter was not a public document because it was a personal handwritten note, Brewer's office released the letter late Thursday afternoon.

It is what one would expect from a governor to a president of another party - mentioning "hard choices" and balanced budgets, while neglecting to mention, however, the high cost Arizona's citizens have paid in recent years through draconian cuts to school funding, health-care coverage for kids of the working poor and more.

Brewer's digital gesticulation got attention, and that's what any politico trying to raise her profile wants - and sales of her memoir have jumped.

But Brewer's jab comes at the expense of Arizona's national reputation and image.

Arizona Daily Star