Janet Napolitano, Obama's Brilliant Homeland Security Pick

Randal Archibold, who ludicrously called ultra-liberal Sen. John Kerry a "centrist on a surge" during the 2004 campaign, issued a flattering look Thursday at Janet Napolitano, Obama's pick to head up Homeland Security ("For Homeland Security Nominee, Good Leadership Is in the Details"). Not only does Napolitano "startle aides with a near photographic memory," but she "has not met a briefing book she could not absorb."

Janet Napolitano, the Arizona governor and nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, has been busy the past few weeks with a painstaking review of ... the department's budget.

She will tell you understanding the budget is understanding the policy directives of any organization," said Jan Lesher, her chief of staff who, like several aides, is preparing to join Ms. Napolitano in Washington if, as expected, she is confirmed after a Senate hearing on Thursday.

That less-than-barnstorming approach to the department, a thorny, tentacled behemoth born six years ago in response to the Sept. 11 attacks, squares with the cautious, deliberative nature of a governor whose ability to vacuum up and retain information as disparate as the minutiae of fiscal audits and the lyrics from "West Side Story" is legend here.

When an early draft of her State of the State address, delivered Monday, spoke of more than 5,000 members of the Arizona National Guard who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ms. Napolitano was quick to point out, "No, it's more than 6,000."

She is a 51-year-old self-described nerd who, despite a less-than-electrifying public persona, privately quotes lines from Monty Python movies, extols the virtues of Arizona's professional sports teams and startles aides with a near photographic memory. She has not met a briefing book she could not absorb and makes time to read two books, one fiction and one nonfiction, simultaneously.

After a few brief paragraphs about her occasional "impatience or angry outbursts," Archibold returned to praise. He also crafted his labeling to favor Napolitano, pitting a moderate Napolitano against "right-wing" and "conservative" Republicans.

As governor, Ms. Napolitano has won over many ranking Republicans, except the more right-wing members of the party who hold legislative leadership posts and have had many of their bills vetoed....Ms. Napolitano narrowly won the race for governor in 2002 but handily won re-election in 2006. Polls consistently rank her as among the most popular elected officials in the state, which, despite its conservative reputation, has been growing more moderate politically as waves of newcomers arrive from California and elsewhere.