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Representative Tom Tancredo (R-Col.), a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, explains his formula for victory in the current conflict in the Middle East:
“If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina,” the GOP presidential candidate said. “That is the only thing I can think of that might deter somebody from doing what they would otherwise do. If I am wrong fine, tell me, and I would be happy to do something else. But you had better find a deterrent or you will find an attack. There is no other way around it. There have to be negative consequences for the actions they take. That’s the most negative I can think of.”
Tancredo could do well to invest in a map. He would discover that the Holy Sites of the Hejaz are located in Saudi Arabia, which is not only one of the Bush Administration’s closest allies in the region, but also one to which the Administration now proposes—with Tancredo’s evident support—to sell $20 billion in sophisticated weaponry.
Tancredo’s challenged intellect is a constant source of amusement to some, and worry to others. But if we have to pick among the Republican field today the candidate who appeals, quite consciously, to the basest, most racist and most ignorant of the electorate—who can doubt just which candidate that is?
Alexis de Tocqueville, writing in Democracy in America, some ways into the chapter superscribed “On Parliamentary Eloquence in the United States” (vol. 2, pt. 1, ch. 21)(a resource he found altogether lacking), renders this indispensable advice to Rep. Tancredo:
To keep silent is the most useful service that a mediocre talker can render to the public.
There are of course no shortage of legislators on both sides of the aisle who could benefit from this, but Tancredo is a special case.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”