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George W. Bush never had to answer for his “youthful indiscretions.” Michael Phelps, not so lucky. Having been caught red-handed with a smoking bong firmly pasted to his maw, the long knives are out for the Olympic hero.
Let’s see if I’ve got this right. Phelps isn’t a future Hall of Famer juicing himself with the “cream” and the “clear,” or getting his gluteus maximus pin-cushioned with designer ’roids. He isn’t a doped racehorse, or a testosterone-shooting bike nerd trying to turn his Lycra-Spandexed bum into a blur pedaling across France.
He isn’t even the current president of the United States, who freely admits to having toked his share of tropical trumpets back in his Hawaiian hoodlum days, not to mention tooting some of the Big Island’s finest imported disco dust.
He’s a 23-year-old rock star who got caught smoking pot. How is Phelps going to do the breast stroke covered in tar and feathers?
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.”