Commentary

His Excellency the Sheriff

March 11, 2022 5:50 am

We need only be patient, wait for his wisdom, and then marvel at its magnificence. (Photo: Dana Gentry)

While not confirmed, there are indications that once he has officially filed for governor, the great man himself, Joe Lombardo, will descend from his Olympian heights where he has been cloistered and deign to mingle with mere mortals.

If and when His Excellency the Sheriff subjects himself to participation in some manner of live public discourse, either with his fellow Republican gubernatorial candidates or, possibly, actual living working humans, or perhaps even – gasp! – a reporter, let’s hope he favors the inferior beings with some explanations.

Not so much about his record as sheriff, unsavory though some elements of it are. But about his vision for the state he has so graciously offered to govern.

The affordable housing crisis; Nevada’s worst-in-the-nation ranking for accessibility to mental health service; the climate crisis and Southern Nevada’s sustainability as, you know, a going concern; one of the nation’s most regressive tax structures that puts an immorally disproportionate burden on low-income working families; a dearth of affordable and rapid public transit; the economic development profession’s obsession with imaginary jobs of the future, and accompanying neglect of people working in the jobs we actually have; draining public education funds to subsidize people who are already sending their children to private schools; how state and local governments are prioritizing an unprecedented amount of money sent to Nevada under federal relief plans; a criminal justice system that funds itself by harassing and exploiting poor people… 

It will be so gratifying to hear how the one, the only, the majestic Joe Lombardo will address those problems and the many other challenges facing Nevada and Nevadans. 

Needless to say as his campaign unfurls he will confront such matters with a sterling combination of powerful vision and lush detail. He is The Great Lombardo, after all. We need only be patient, wait for his wisdom, and then marvel at its magnificence.

In the meantime, however, the Exalted One has already provided a few glimpses of the ambitious and inspirational public policy agenda he will swiftly execute once Nevadans are graced with his bold and brilliant leadership.

And, painful as it is to admit – and it’s probably merely the result of an innocent oversight, which is understandable given his immense responsibilities of running a large law enforcement organization as a nonpartisan elected official while at the very same time raising significantly larger sums from campaign contributors than any of his GOP competitors could ever hope to collect – the exciting priorities that Nevada’s greatest living icon of public service has identified thus far are a bit, well, thin.

In fact, however reluctantly, it must be frankly admitted that if such pronouncements were issued by any lesser, run-of-the-mill candidate, they would be dismissed as dumbed-down pandering, the sort of trite banalities deliberately deployed by cynical political operatives appealing to the perpetual grievance for which the lowest common denominator of the Republican base is so well known.

For instance, Lombardo has declared: “Let me be clear, critical race theory SHOULD NOT be taught in our schools.”

During a brief window last year when Lombardo magnanimously gave a couple interviews to the mainstream media which of course is in no way worthy of his greatness, he elaborated on CRT, the finer points of which a man of Lombardo’s vast erudition must be more than casually familiar: “No matter how you couch it, it’s just teaching kids to be ashamed of themselves and their country,” he said.

In 1967 during a TV interview at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King said:

“White America must see that no other ethic group has been a slave on American soil. That is one thing that other immigrant groups haven’t had to face. The other thing is that the color became a stigma. American society made the negroes’ color a stigma.

…America freed the slaves in 1863, through the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln, but gave the slaves no land, or nothing in reality and as a matter of fact, to get started on. At the same time, America was giving away millions of acres of land, in the West and the Midwest. Which meant there was a willingness to give the white peasants from Europe an economic base. And yet it refused to give its Black peasants from Africa, who came here involuntarily, in chains, and who had worked for 244 years, any kind of economic base….

And when white Americans tell the negro to lift himself by his own bootstraps, they don’t look over the legacy of slavery and segregation. Now, I believe we ought to do all we can and seek to lift ourselves by our own bootstraps, but it’s a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps. And many negroes, by the thousands and millions, have been left bootless as a result of all of these years of oppression and as a result of a society that deliberately made his color a stigma and something worthless and degrading.”

When red-blooded champion of truth, justice, and the American way Joe Lombardo comes to Nevada’s rescue and selflessly serves as its governor, will a history teacher in a public school be allowed to show students a 1967 Martin Luther King interview? Or will that be, as per Lombardo’s scintillating definition of critical race theory, “just teaching kids to be ashamed of themselves and their country,” ergo verboten?

In another pressing policy priority Lombardo has generously revealed to the public, he declared, “As Governor, I’ll fight any efforts to defund the police.”

Interviewed by KLAS in Las Vegas in June 2020, the month after George Floyd’s murder, Lombardo said “defunding, I can support, in some aspects.”

“What I mean by that,” Lombardo continued…

“…is that “over time, society has asked police to expand their resumes … in particular mental health, and homelessness and hunger, the police are expected to take care of those particular issues. And it’s real easy. The public calls 911. When there’s a question on how to handle a particular situation like the ones I described, you dial 911 and the police have to handle it. And we don’t necessarily have the resources or the training or the ability to handle a lot of those things.

“So if they want to defund, to develop teams per se, or social workers, that type of profession to address those type of calls, I’m in full support of it.”

Sincerely (no, really) that ranks as one of the finest and most accurate descriptions of the so-called “defund the police” movement to redirect parts of police budgets to social service programs ever delivered by a law enforcement official in the U.S.

But less than two years later Lombardo declared he’ll “fight any efforts to defund the police.” 

A more thorough examination of the nuances of the matter must have led the ever judicious lawman’s views to evolve, thus explaining why he now opposes reallocation of funds – and responsibilities for “those type of calls” – from police to social service agencies. 

After all, the ever honest and trustworthy Joe Lombardo would never abandon a sound and informed position, particularly one on a subject in which he has so much expertise, in order to spout a cheap but fashionable talking point like any common politician.

Unfortunately there are other examples – an awkward flip-flop on his cooperation with U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement,  an errant mischaracterization of modest criminal justice reforms –  when Lombardo as a candidate for governor has seemed to display a casual disregard for serious policy, and an equally casual embrace of pernicious populism.

Fortunately, Nevada’s model of patriarchy will soon become an official candidate, at which point he is expected to humbly descend to earth to personally confirm not only his fitness to be governor, but his fundamental greatness as a big strong brave American male. No doubt all will be forgiven, forgotten and neatly cleared up once the eloquent leader explains the complexities which may account for any confusion clouding his performance thus far. 

And then he will assuredly proceed to dazzle Nevadans of all walks of life with his sophisticated command of detail and a startlingly focused agenda for addressing the affordable housing crisis; Nevada’s worst-in-the-nation ranking for accessibility to mental health service; the climate crisis and Southern Nevada’s sustainability as, you know, a going concern; one of the nation’s most regressive tax structures that puts an immorally disproportionate burden on low-income working families; etc…

Or as his campaign website proclaims, with typical Lombardo humility, “his leadership of our communities has never faltered.”

Surely a man so enamored with concepts of honor, character and integrity won’t let it falter now, while he’s running for governor?

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