December 7, 2005

Malchow vs. the English Language #442

Malchow is miffed at the selection of the following sentence for Slate's Bushism of the Day:
"Those who enter the country illegally violate the law."—Tucson, Ariz., Nov. 28, 2005
Okay, in case you're not following along at home, the word "illegally" and the predicate "violate the law" are redundant when placed in the same sentence, and sort of silly when they are placed directly next to one another.

Malchow calls this tautology one of Bush's "poignant and most succinct arguments."

Exactly. A statement with virtually no semantic value outside of its own circular logic is a poignant and succinct argument in the mind of a conservative. Thank you, Joe Malchow, for summing up conservative ideology for us.


  1. Anonymous8:59 PM

    Volokh had a comment on the same Bushism. So while you might be able to say Malchow is an idiot, you'd be hard pressed to call Prof. Volokh one...

    Of course, his comment is more about context and the rhetorical use of redundancy in driving home a point that is often overlooking or margalized during the course of a debate. But as you seem to agree with the Bushism, you should check out Volokh's response.

  2. The point of my post was that Malchow didn't understand the reason why it was a Bushism; Volokh clearly did. And my intent was not to call Joe an idiot; I'm just saying he has trouble reading words through a haze of ideology.

    And while I'm no logical atomist, I think sometimes you can look at a single statement and analyze it out of context. It's not that the Bushism really makes much more sense when "in context," it just doesn't look so silly when there are lots of other words around it so the reader doesn't concentrate on it so intensely.

  3. Anonymous11:47 AM

    "logical atomist"? wtf?

    of course the statement is redundant, and of course it meaningful at the same time. it doesn't even need the utterances around it to be meaningful if you understand the first thing about the real-world conditions around it, namely, that we have lots of immigrants and bush wants to remind people that they broke the law in coming here.

    malchow clearly understood that the statement was redundant but also meaningful, and he wanted to drive home the meaningfulness of the statement.

    basically, you've had to write several paragraphs with language like "logical atomist" to try to arrive at what went without saying for everyone else, i.e., an understanding of this situation.

    still, i'm on your side because i hate republicans

  4. let me just reiterate that i wasn't remarking on the quality of the bushism, just that Malchow either didn't get or refused to get the reason why it was a Bushism and instead went overboard in his praise for a pathologically facile sentence, though it could have been said any number of ways that would have had more meaning than "unmarried bachelor."