The Deep Insecurities of Sheriff Arpaio

The Times profiles Joe Arpaio who, surprise, is a publicity hound:

Sheriff Arpaio has wisps of gray in his thinning brown hair, though his looks do not betray his age. He says he works 14 hours a day, and spending time with him makes it not hard to believe -- though much of that work appears to be devoted to bolstering the image that keeps getting him re-elected. He rarely denies interview requests, and he can talk for hours; aides had to barge in repeatedly one recent afternoon to remind him of another commitment, a going-away party for a member of his staff. 

His news releases often carry headlines written in bold red letters. "Eight more illegal aliens detained. Among them a 3-year-old," a recent one read. He uses a Smith Corona typewriter to keep records of every interview he has given; a stack of paper thicker than an encyclopedia fills a deep drawer in his desk. (There were 13 news organizations, from as far away as Russia and Japan, listed for June 25, when the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling on Arizona's immigration law.) 

"You know what I average on TV a month? Here, local?" Sheriff Arpaio said defiantly, punching his desk for emphasis. "Two hundred appearances." 

He handed a visitor his résumé, which runs to five pages and lists under "awards and citations" the fact that he has been "featured and profiled thousands of times by worldwide news media." He also offered a transcript of some of the most recent messages left for him at his office.
What you see in this profile is rather ugly combination of camera-addiction and just outright cruelty. It takes a particular moral talent to brag about detaining a 3-year-old.
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Politics

From This Author

Just In