It’s impossible to keep track of all the horrible things President Trump is doing, but his pardon of former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio on Friday was something special, even for him. So Trevor Noah treated Arpaio to a “Profile in Tremendousness” on Monday’s Daily Show, walking viewers through his horrifying history of torture, mysterious deaths, and garden variety racism. Noah, like most people who learn about Arpaio, pronounces him a worse sheriff than Roscoe P. Coltrane or the sheriff in Bob Marley’s 1973 classic “I Shot the Sheriff.”
While Noah’s analysis of Trump’s suspicious number of racist friends falls into the tempting but dangerous “retell the Onion’s ‘Why Do All These Homosexuals Keep Sucking My Cock’ joke” trap—Noah’s version is about a straight guy at the gym who gay guys all hit on—his take on one reason Trump pardoned Arpaio is sharp:
It feels like Trump did this not just to reward Arpaio’s loyalty, but to send a message to all his other cronies from the campaign. “Hey, guys, good news! We get our own set of laws! You don’t need to cooperate with Mueller and the Russian investigation—I’ll just pardon you.”
As Noah shows, our system of government wasn’t really designed to put a check on this kind of shameless abuse of the pardon, at least not while the Republicans in congress are too cowed to act. Tremendousness!