What a long time ago it seems that Joe Arpaio was known as "America's toughest sheriff."
In November, he was soundly defeated for re-election to the post he had held for 24 years in Arizona's Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix. This week his successor announced the closure of one of Arpaio's signature projects, a sprawling outdoor tent encampment where inmates, compelled to wear pink underwear and striped jumpsuits, were regularly used as backdrops for the sheriff's boastful disquisitions to the media. And later this month, Arpaio, a Republican, goes on trial for criminal contempt in a racial profiling case.
The toughness seeping out of him with each passing day, lately Arpaio has been reduced to asking the court not to allow his past campaign statements — full of bluster and mocking defiance of court orders — to be admitted as evidence, and to prohibit testimony from law-abiding Latinos who were illegally picked up in his notorious immigration sweeps. Oh, and Arpaio's top lawyer has asked to quit, citing unspecified ethical conflicts that bar him from continuing to represent the former lawman.