H ere we go again. Fresh from the sewer of the Moore candidacy in Alabama and the stinging defeat it so deservingly suffered, some Republicans may soon be descending into yet another sewer of their own making, this time in Arizona.

Convicted criminal and former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio has declared he’ll run in the Republican Party primary for the US Senate seat in Arizona being vacated by Jeff Flake, and the first poll taken since his announcement shows him with 29 percent of the vote, just two points behind state representative Martha McSally. After I wrote about the shamefulness of Moore’s candidacy based on his dishonesty and hypocritical moral posturing, lo and behold, just a fortnight later, multiple credible allegations of other deeply odious behavior on his part began to emerge.

In Arpaio’s case, I’m not sure I’d be able to manage the same feat of prescience, if only because his known record of behavior in office is already so execrable that only truly extreme revelations would top what’s already known about him. National Review’s editorial opposing his candidacy calls him a “limelight-seeking octogenarian petty criminal, a serial abuser of police power, a man who oversaw inhuman and indeed homicidal brutality committed against blind and paralyzed prisoners in his custody, a preening huckster of the first order.”

Sheriff Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt last year for violating a federal court order to stop arresting Mexicans on no plausible criminal charge. He claimed he was arresting illegal immigrants, but it’s not a crime to be illegally present in the United States. To arrest them on that basis is.

But then, Maricopa’s top lawman never seemed to have much use for the law. He once had the Republican county supervisor, a critic of his, arrested on trumped-up charges, for which taxpayers ultimately had to cough up $3.5 million to settle the wrongful-arrest suit that followed. Another time, he initiated a federal prosecution of judges and lawyers who were his political adversaries, and when it was thrown out as frivolous, that cost Arizona’s citizens still millions more.

On Arpaio’s watch, Maricopa County paid more than $43 million in settlements to inmates or their families for abuse or death at the hands of his deputies. In one of these cases, an inmate was bound and suffocated to death, while in another, a blind prisoner was beaten to death. Arpaio’s office was accused of destroying evidence in both cases.

No, Joe Arpaio is not a good man, and conservative Republicans and right-wing media personalities shouldn’t be supporting him, to put it very mildly.

AND YET, IF PAST EXPERIENCE IS ANY INDICATION, a small number of letters will come in following this column assailing me for once again harping on the moral failings of some Republican politicians and voters and right-wing media types. And they’ll be right.

I have been taking opportunities, occasionally, to point out the too-frequent instances in which all of the above have thrown in with people like Moore and Arpaio and others from whom a thick, putrid stench of immorality rises. And I’ve done so for only one reason: to drive home the very important point that we Torah Jews ought to be loyal to neither right nor left nor center, but to the true and the morally upright.

We need to represent, for ourselves, for our families and for the broader society, a community of people striving to uphold the Torah’s high standards of conduct in word and deed, and to work strenuously to disassociate ourselves from and shield ourselves from being influenced by the sustained exposure to, the immoral behavior we see, read, and hear about in society at large, including — no, particularly — at its highest levels. We need to see ourselves and be seen by the world as people for whom the ends do not justify the use of any means at all, however appalling.

And perhaps these letter writers will read other things into my words, too, such as an intention to somehow implicate the president in the deplorable behavior of Arpaio, whose criminal conviction was pardoned last August by Trump. That, after all, has been a pattern in some past letters: If I cite Agudath Israel’s expression of deep concern over the Republican tax bill’s implications for the frum community, I must mean to attack President Trump, and if I describe Roy Moore as the unctuous creep he is, it can only be an indirect swipe at the nation’s chief executive.

Never mind that everything I wrote about Moore predated the president’s belated endorsement of him; and never mind that the president’s biggest contribution to passage of the tax legislation, which represented conventional Republican policy, was staying out of the Republican Congress’s way, given that mastery of policy and making a compelling case to the American public are not — how shall we say? — his strong suit.

These letter writers apparently see their president everywhere and in everything (only the good, that is). Sort of how, perhaps, he sees himself.

Over the course of Barack Obama’s eight years in office, I wrote numerous columns excoriating both him and his policies in very strong terms, yet I can barely recall a single letter taking me to task for demeaning the office of the presidency regardless of its occupant’s glaring flaws.

When they’re not recommending that I not write at all, however, a few writers in recent weeks have shared their demand as to what I absolutely must write — words of thanks to President Trump for the commutation of Reb Sholom Rubashkin’s sentence. There’s much that’s strange about that demand, but why that’s so isn’t something that’s appropriate or relevant for discussion here. Having mentioned the issue, however, I’ll say this: Several weeks ago, in a widely publicized communal forum sponsored by the Jewish Heritage Center of Queens and Long Island (available for viewing online), I addressed various questions submitted by the audience, including one relating to the current president.

I discussed the topic from a Torah perspective, focusing exclusively on its spiritual and moral ramifications, not political ones. That’s virtually the sole perspective from which I’ve written on this topic from the very beginning, and I don’t believe I err in saying that this space is virtually the only one in Orthodox Jewish media that has taken that approach.

I BEGAN MY REMARKS by noting our obligation as Jews to respect the office of the presidency and whoever occupies it, including its current occupant, to thank him for the things he does that benefit our community specifically and America generally and to support those of his policies that deserve it. I went on to thank President Trump for the great kindness he just recently performed for Sholom Rubashkin and his family and the Jewish community of which he is a part.

In the remainder of my remarks, I clearly delineated the deleterious aspects of this presidency and the spiritual and moral dilemmas it has created for us. As has been true of the great majority of my writing on this topic, my remarks that evening were the result of an in-person consultation with a widely revered gadol b’Torah, and I expressed my hope that others publicly addressing these issues, whatever their position, have invested the time and effort to engage in similar consultations. I extend that hope to those who write in about my writing here.

So, now that it turns out that I actually did, in the appropriate setting, what these few writers insisted I must do, I have a request for them, which I’ll extend as well to anyone else writing on the topic: The next time this president does something that is morally and spiritually repugnant, will you, upon consultation with a gadol b’Torah, speak up to ensure that a) his behavior is not normalized, and certainly not met with tacit or overt approval, so as to deter its influence on your community and family, and b) the Torah community is not seen by American society as a group that gives the president unwavering support regardless of his behavior?

I’ll even suggest a good start: to disassociate yourself, and all of us, from the president’s behavior last week in an Oval Office meeting with Congressional leaders that was nationally reported, in which he used vulgarity and referred to the citizenries of entire countries as inferior human beings.

And here’s a tip that may be helpful: Recall that Barack Obama is no longer the president, Hillary Clinton went down to humiliating defeat last year, and the Republicans are in control of Congress. Then, in preparing to formulate your response to the president’s behavior, try tapping into and verbalizing your instinctive internal reaction to it as a Jew, and perhaps as a parent, but do so without recourse to the following words: “Obama,” “Clinton,” “liberals” and “the media.”

It should work wonders.

Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 694. Eytan Kobre may be contacted directly at kobre@mishpacha.com