Donald Trump's decision to pardon convicted racial profiler Sheriff Joe Arpaio under cover of Hurricane Harvey has been met with widespread condemnation outside of Trump's rabid base. But every once in awhile, a leader comes along to take a stand that others can only tremble in awe at.
Sure, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said it undermines Trump's claim of respect for the rule of law, and Democrats called it an abuse of power, but stand back, people. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) has apparently “broken with Trump” on the Arpaio pardon if the headlines are to be believed.
This is great news. The third highest-ranking elected official in the world has been notably and disgustingly weak on Trump's recent praise for white supremacist, racist, Nazi, anti-Semites lately, so this is a welcome step up. Hold on a second: Let me get my eclipse glasses, fireproof gloves, and have my medical team standing by because this is going to be epic.
Are you ready? On Saturday, Speaker Paul Ryan brought the thunder against Trump's pardon... through a spokesman... who didn't mention Trump or Arpaio by name:
“The speaker does not agree with the decision,” said Ryan spokesman Doug Andres. “Law-enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”
I'm sure Ryan will also instruct his spokesman to bite his thumb at Trump, if not fart in his general direction.
Seriously, why even bother with this? Who cares enough about Trump's abuse of power, who will also be impressed with gentle disagreement through a spokesperson? Trump could literally murder someone, and Ryan would issue a press release saying, through a spokesman, that “the Speaker generally disfavors any diminution of the tax base.”
Now, if you really want to see some hot “Dracarys!” action, check out House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff's (D-CA) reaction to Arpaio's pardon (emphasis added):
This isn’t about the interest of justice. This isn’t about rewarding someone or giving them a second chance or acknowledging their other service to the country. This is patently political. And to the degree there is any overlap with the Russia investigation, I guess I have a different take than [Bob Bauer, White House counsel under President Barack Obama]. The concern I have is that he’s sending a message to people that may be under investigation by Bob Mueller that ‘I have your back and I’ve got a pardon waiting for you.’ I am concerned about that because obviously, this is a president who is not above using the pardon power strictly in his own, very narrow personal interest.
Whoah! Katie, bar the door, Adam Schiff has a concern! Can a wry and cutting Yelp review be far behind?
Schiff deserves credit for his skill at describing Trump's outrages in thorough and clinical detail, but he's like that “Not a dentist” guy in those LifeLock commercials. At a certain point, you have to stop describing the bucket of flaming oily rags under the sparking circuit breaker, and call the freaking fire department.
There may be someone, somewhere, whose hair is on fire about Trump, but I haven't met them, and the political leaders who are entrusted with checking him either have their heads up his agenda or wrapped in asbestos. This is an outrage that must be met with the force of a co-equal branch of government, not stage-whispered cocktail party disapproval.