Feathered Bastard

At Long Last, Joe Arpaio Debates Dan Saban...Um, Kinda-Sorta.

The Coward of the County finally goes toe-to-toe with Dan Saban -- in this video, if nowhere else.

Activist Dennis Gilman, the Michael Moore of the local lefty community, has made happen what no one thought was possible this election cycle: A debate between challenger Dan Saban and our cowardly, county crime czar Joe Arpaio. Alas, Gilman couldn't get them in the same room at the same time. Instead, he cribs a Sheriff Joe robocall chock full o' canards about Saban, and juxtaposes them against footage of Saban being interviewed by Horizon's Ted Simons and AZTV's Pat McMahon. As most of the robocall is read by some chick, Gilman uses clips of highly-paid Arpaio flack Lisa Allen to voice the audio.

Saban challenged Arpaio to a series of debates way back in June of this year, sending Arpaio a registered letter to this effect. But ol' Joe punked out, never acknowledging Saban's missive. (See my previous Bird item on this subject, "Debating Dan.") The local media has been lax in staying after Joe on this, giving him a pass few other pols would receive. Thankfully, local activists ain't so deferential. For example, Phoenix shit-disturber Adolfo Maldonado confronted Arpaio outside his Wells Fargo offices, during one of the near-daily protests down there. The results were rather amusing. I've previously posted the video of Maldonado doing his Stuttering John bit (minus the stuttering), but having just watched it again, I think it's worth posting one more time below.

An Arpaio thug gets into Maldonado's face as the activist asks Joe:"Why you scared [to debate Saban]? You so articulate..."

Of course, the reason Joe was never going to debate Saban is because Arpaio knows he'd get his ass handed to him. Joe flusters too easily. He tries schmoozing even his enemies one-on-one, but if he's challenged in public, he freaks out. He's a classic authoritarian personality, and brooks no dissension.

Saban and Arpaio debated once before in 2004 during the Republican primary, where Saban was challenging Arpaio as a fellow GOP-er. (He's now running as a Dem.) During that debate, Arpaio kept poking Saban with his finger to make a point, and Saban laid down the law in a whisper to his opponent. Arpaio went ape, acting like a frightened old queen. Obviously, Arpaio didn't want a repeat of this debacle in '08.

"You're the self-appointed 'toughest sheriff in America,'" Saban said of Arpaio in the Bird column referenced above. "Why would you fear a mere mortal like me?"

Oh, but Arpaio does fear Saban, which is why he's pulled out all the stops with robocalls and sick anti-Saban ads with questionable funding. And it's why the best we're gonna get in the way of a debate between the two, is the Gilman video up top.

PS: Thanks to the commenter below who corrected me on my Saban/Arpaio switcheroo. Yes, it was Arpaio who reacted like a creepy old queen in that 2004 GOP primary debate. Sorry for any confusion. I've made the correction above.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons