Thursday, July 15, 2010


Adam Serwer and the Huffington Post note that Arizona's Joe Arpaio, the showboating, grandstanding self-described "America's Toughest Sheriff," actually has a worse crime-fighting record in recent years than other less self-regarding sheriffs:

This is coming up now because, as the HuffPo notes, "Arpaio is considered something of a visionary among conservatives with respect to his approach to immigration. Many of his reforms, indeed, have served as a basis for the law that Gov. Jan Brewer tried to implement statewide." Having an adversarial relationship with a community makes it harder for law enforcement to win the community's cooperation, which makes it harder to fight crime.

But I think there's a general point to be made here about Republicans and competence.

Arpaio is reputed to be an extremely effective crime-fighter, but the numbers reveal that he actually isn't an effective crime-fighter. It doesn't matter, though, does it? He's a Republican, he's a tough guy, so if crime goes up on his watch, it has to be someone else's fault. Right?

This is the same principle that allows Republicans to believe that the budget-busting Ronald Reagan was actually a deficit hawk and that George W. Bush was actually a valiant defender of America against terrorism despite 9/11.

And it explains why Republicans in Congress have no fear of economic hardship, even when it's self-evidently caused by their actions.

Large numbers of Americans are losing their unemployment benefits? And it's the Republicans' fault? It doesn't matter. Much of the public simply "knows" that Republicans are careful fiscal stewards, while Democrats always destroy the American economy with taxing and spending. They "know" that the way Joe Arpaio's fans "know" he's America's #1 crime-fighter.

And it doesn't matter if we continuing running deficits forever because Republicans block any Democratic attempt to raise taxes, even on the rich. Everyone "knows" that deficits are caused by liberalism, and that right-wingers hate red ink.

The facts just don't matter.

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