As many expected, President Donald trump has given former Sheriff Joe Arpaio a full pardon on the charge of misdemeanor contempt of court. Curiously, the president waited until the news media was focused on Hurricane Harvey which was ravaging the Texas gulf coast. The timing did not stop the usual suspects from complaining. Among the complainers was Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

McCain: pardon ‘undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law’

McCain noted that Arpaio was found guilty of contempt for continuing to racially profile Hispanics in violation of a judge’s orders.

Arpaio has steadfastly maintained that he was not doing anything of the kind. The pardon was issued without the usual Justice Department review and occurred before sentencing, and the appeals process had been laid out.

Why is McCain publically objecting to the pardon? Part of the reason is no doubt sincere conviction. McCain has always been dubious about strict border enforcement, so he would naturally agree that was Arpaio was doing was high handed. On the other hand, the long-term senator and former presidential candidate has also been noted for making decisions based on personal piques. McCain detests President Trump and would thus be inclined to oppose anything he does regardless of the merits.

His recent vote that sunk Obamacare repeal and replace is seen as an example of that.

The political fallout

YouGov, looking at the polling numbers, suggests that the political fallout of the Arpaio pardon is pretty much a wash. Trump’s base loves it, and his enemies hate it. The pardon will make Trump supporters, who admire Arpaio for his tough on crime record, love the president even more.

Trump haters, who are pretty sure that Arpaio was an out of control racist who regularly violated the civil rights of Hispanics and other people, will despise the president even more.

Why did the president do it?

In many ways, Arpaio and Trump are kindred spirits. Both men are immigration hawks and are uncaring of what the media thinks of their efforts to secure the border.

Curiously, both flirted with birtherism, that strange conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya and not in Hawaii. Both have brash, plain-spoken personalities that are like music to their supporters but fingernails on the chalkboard for everyone else.

Trump, who perceives himself as being treated unfairly, concluded that Arpaio had been treated the same by both the medias and the court system. The judge in question had been responding to an action taken by Barack Obama’s justice department that found Arpaio tough immigration enforcement abhorrent. In Trump’s mind, he is just making right a grave injustice that had been visited upon the 85-year-old former sheriff.

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