In Praise Of The Great James Taranto

Mark Steyn wrote another great column today. He does so almost every week. Christopher Hitchens often does the same thing, and on certain occasions, his greatness is unmatched.

James Taranto writes a great column five says a week, and it's frequently jaw-droppingly so.

Today was one of those days, but it wasn't until the very end that I was left completely speechless. And to be completely accurate, it was after the end. You see, yesterday I read the single-most juvenile column I think I've ever come across. I found it so appalling that I can't even imagine anyone here (and you know to whom I refer) writing such a worthless piece. And if that weren't bad enough, it was published in the Washington Post and it involved one Monica Hesse making fun of Fred Thompson's name…

For an entire column!

But by today it was gone and forgotten – until I noticed that it was the last item James Taranto decided to focus on. Quite often, this last item comes with a punchline, and this one is very subtly humorous – that it until you actually go to the site and put in "Monica," which turns it into a bellylaugh.

Better Fred Than Dead
Now this is what we call serious, hard-hitting journalism. Monica Hesse writes in the Washington Post:

In the swampy soup of hopefuls for the 2008 presidential election, there is a man with a funny name. (No, not that one.)

We're thinking of the one named Fred (Thompson).

Say it out loud. Do it. Fred. Fred. In the South, Fray-ud.


It has the tonal quality of something being dropped on the floor, something heavy and damp-ish.

Waterlogged paper towel.


The phonetics of the name seem integral to its image problem: On, a "Fred" is defined as "a person who does stupid, annoying, or idiotic things" (Fred Flintstone, Fred Mertz). The best-case descriptors a Fred can hope for are terms like well-intentioned, predictable, benign (Fred Rogers).

Say, Monica, did you happen to look up your own name on



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About tedwest

A longtime veteran of comedy and political forums, I decided that I needed a more restful venue because... well... I finally hate everybody. Except my wife that is... and my ex-wife.. and... no, that's about it. I lead about as simple a life as one can, preferring activities that include anything that doesn't involve going out and seeing YOU! And I particularly enjoy what I call "Get the Bitch" movies on Lifetime. You know the ones where the intended victim finally does something so incredibly stupid that she forfeits her right to live, and from that moment on you're rooting for the stalker. Of course, it rarely works out the way you want, but when it does, the feeling you get is... well, there's nothing else like it, other than, maybe, eating chocolate chip cookies. Oh, and I'm proudly anti-wildlife, both foreign and domestic, and anti-environment - especially foreign environments. I think Howard Stern put it best when he said, "If fifty percent of the population died tomorrow, I can live with that." And I feel the same about the other fifty percent, so together, we've pretty much got it all covered.
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