Trump’s pardoning of Joe Arpaio’s conviction for the refusal to cease an unconstitutional racial profiling practice is yet another strike against a man who has proven himself to be an impulsive, grandstanding narcissist. Trump is an asshole, in short, and even he knows it at this point.
Arpaio is a vile human being. The Phoenix New Times has chronicled their coverage of Arpaio’s tenure as an elected official. Some highlights include: Arpaio as an outspoken member of the Obama “birther” movement, the failure of the MCSO to investigate HUNDREDS of sex crimes during his terms, arresting a New Times reporter for writing investigative articles about Arpaio, and my personal favorite: staging an assassination attempt on himself. By some estimates, he’s cost his county hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees and administrative costs.
This man was Donald Trump’s first pardon as President.
And yet again, I’m amazed at the blind support Trump’s base is throwing his way. Aside from being called a cuck probably a hundred times in the last twenty-four hours, the people I’ve engaged with have tried to make the tired case that all Presidents pardon shady characters and that nothing is different about this pardon and, oh, what about Bill Clinton? I even saw someone write something suggesting that a “liberal judge had signed off on the pardon”, which, of course, is not how pardons fucking work. In fact, Trump went around the typical DOJ process involved in securing clemency via application; there was no indication that Arpaio was shortlisted or recommended for clemency or pardon by the DOJ. The level of ignorance involved in the blind defense of politicians intellectually and spiritually disgusts me.
When Bill Clinton took office, I was six years old. When he left office, I was fourteen. I didn’t vote for Clinton, I don’t want to be called upon to defend any Clinton for the rest of my life, and I certainly shouldn’t be required to muster a counter-attack for a weak deflection attempt involving a President who was in office between the years when I went from dressing up as Batman regularly to discovering just how cool boobs really are.
And having said all of this – I’ll bite. Why is Trump’s pardon so conspicuously different from other Presidential pardons? Here’s a short list:
- One of Clinton’s most controversial pardons, that of Marc Rich (indicted for tax evasion and conducting business with Iranians during the hostage crisis), happened on Clinton’s last day in office. In fact, the most “controversial” pardons happen during a President’s second term, or later in their first term.
- Our last four Presidents, with the exception of George H.W. Bush, granted their first batch of first-term pardons more than a year into their respective terms. 
- The first batch of pardons for the last four presidents have involved largely white-collar fraud charges, drugs/alcohol/firearms charges, theft, gambling, or altering the odometer of a motor vehicle. Trump’s first, lone pardon, was for a man who willfully violated a legal order demanding the cessation of a practice that was deemed unconstitutional.
Trump sent a message with this pardon. He wasn’t paying back a political favor, he wasn’t making right some oversight in the judicial system, and he certainly wasn’t showing mercy to an innocent man or a man who had served his time. Someone I know pointed out that for a law-and-order candidate, Trump seems to have little respect for law-and-order.
What we now need to consider is this: if Trump’s first pardon was Arpaio, who the hell will he pardon at the end of his term?