Donald Trump's protestations that he definitely does not like racists are undermined by his own tone-deaf, yet completely unsurprising, consideration of pardoning Arizona's racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
It took him a couple of days, and he read the formulaic words in a bland voice off of a teleprompter, but Donald Trump finally got around to telling the nation that "racism is evil," and neo-Nazis are bad people and he doesn't like them.
But if Trump wants the public to stop calling him racist, publicizing the fact that he is considering pardoning a man whose racism is the key defining factor of his existence is an odd way to go, particularly in the wake of the horrific, bigotry-driven violence in Virginia.
Fox News reports that Trump is "seriously considering" issuing a pardon to Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was recently found guilty of criminal contempt for defying a judge's order that Arpaio cease using racial profiling in traffic stops.
"He has done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration," Trump said, adding disturbingly, "He’s a great American patriot and I hate to see what has happened to him."
"What has happened to him" is a predictably passive way to frame it. Arpaio is no victim here; he is reaping the deserved punishments for his own despicable words and actions. His anti-immigrant, racist worldview is well-documented.
Like Trump, Arpaio is a birther who dismissed President Barack Obama's birth certificate as "fraudulent" — and whose "investigation" into it by his "Cold Case Posse" was lauded by Trump himself. Trump had considered nominating Arpaio, a very enthusiastic supporter of Trump's campaign, for secretary of Homeland Security.
As sheriff of Maricopa County, before being ousted in November, Arpaio employed a dangerous groups of volunteers to help him round up undocumented immigrants. And his infamous "Tent City" was a repugnant experiment in using the power of the authority he used to have and the callous racism he still harbors to make life as horrible as possible for immigrants swept up by his raids.
This is the man Trump deems a "great American patriot."
And this is who he thinks is worthy of a presidential pardon — one Arpaio said he would accept, but that he wouldn't "ask for" himself. How self-effacing of him.
The idea of pardoning Arpaio is not unique to Trump. The neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer recently suggested a pardon as well, citing the "now dead culture of anti-Americanism" and claiming Arpaio had done "nothing wrong."
So this would be yet another move by Trump that pleases the white supremacists he now tepidly claims to denounce.
The same day this potential pardon was reported, Gallup put Trump at a new low, with a mere 34 percent of the country approving of his job as president.
Leave it to the loser in chief to find a way to sink lower than even that basement-level ranking.