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In his Washington Post column today–one of thousands he has written over his career that end with a cry to end “partisan gridlock”–David Broder gets misty-eyed over the indictment of Senator Ted Stevens. It was “a poignant moment last week,” Broder writes, “when Ted Stevens of Alaska, newly indicted for accepting unreported favors from an oilman friend, walked over to Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who uses a wheelchair because of age and illness, in search of support and consolation.” According to Broder, Stevens and Byrd represent “the rear guard of a generation of senators who see it as their principal responsibility to help their chronically needy citizens obtain the federal largess that can spell the difference between subsistence and a decent living.”
Is there anyone else in the entire country who believes that Stevens had as his highest aim the alleviation of poverty? (Anyone other than Heather Lende, anyway, who also had an op-ed in the Post today, entitled “He’s Still Our Uncle Ted.”) Poor Alaskans benefited far less from his tenure in the Senate than did the political donors to whom Stevens steered so much pork. And Stevens hasn’t done so badly either, with VECO Corp., an oil field services company, having carried out a renovation that more than doubled the size of his home.
The last time Broder was this overwrought was back in 1994, when Dan Rostenkowski, then chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, was indicted on corruption charges. “Seeing him brought down,” Broder wrote, “is a citywide sorrow.”
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
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.”