Remember back in 2009, when the commentariat explained Chuck Grassley’s virulent attacks on health care reform and the Panel to Evaluate the Life of Grandma by saying that he was going to retire soon? It turns out that, like golf, dicketry is a lifetime hobby. Speaking to Radio Iowa yesterday, Grassley called for a review of the White House investigation of the
purchase rental of Colombian prostitutes by the Secret Service. Obviously, prostitutes mean scandal and Secret Service means Obama; therefore, Secret Service prostitues mean Obama scandal. You think that I’m simplifying his reasoning, here, but Grassley’s argument is not measurably more specific. Quote:
The issue here isn’t just people messing around with prostitutes, the issue is the security of the President of the United States and the issue is any national security implications that it might have because of the secrecy and the documents and things of that nature.
Chuck Grassley: just sayin’ stuff.
You can tell even Grassley was not convinced by his reasoning at the end, there, because he started talking like Jerry Lewis. “The secrecy and the documents and the things of that nature” are certainly a concern, but I would really start to worry if some verbs showed up. Here is a tip for high school composition students and senators alike: the word because is for reasons, and a noun alone is not a reason. I agree that the Secret Service probably involves secrets, but until “the documents” take on some real-world referent and something happens to them, I’m not sure that they, you know, exist.
But the escape from referents is Grassley’s whole operation here—indeed, it is the principle mode of Just Sayin’ Stuff. The first part of his statement is clear and intelligible: the issue is not prostitutes, he says, but “the security of the President of the United States.” That is also the referent for “it” in the second, more leisurely pastoral part of his sentence. If you substitute it for “it,” you get “the issue is any national security implications that [the security of the President of the United States] might have.” Do you see the snake? Do you see him shaking salt onto his tail? Is it not adorable?
In this light, the national security implications of the security of the head of the nation are clear. They are especially compelling when you put them next to the documents and the secrecy. Again, though, all of these objects/concepts are sort of floating around in ideational space, with no relation to each other or temporal movement. Perhaps that is because, again, they don’t necessarily exist. Obviously, Grassley needs to work some sort of thing that happens into his remarks to avoid heat death. Think, Senator, think:
Who knows who might be using prostitutes? The Russians are famous for that to get information out of us.
There we go. Who does know who might be using prostitues? Certainly not we, who have no information about anyone not using prostitutes. Again, it is true that Russians are famous for managing prostitutes. Multiplying by the secrecy of the Secret Service and the prostitution of Colombian prostitues, we find that Russians probably used prostitutes to extract national secrets from the Obama administration. It’s as plain as the nose on Grassley’s face, which happens to have just shot forward and knocked over a vase of daffodils.