In the 1962 John Frankenheimer film The Manchurian Candidate, there's a darkly-funny scene in which a loud-mouthed junior Senator, very much in the McCarthy mold and rumored to be his party's vice-presidential nominee in the coming election, complains to his career-dominating wife that it's becoming difficult for him to remember exactly how many (unnamed) Communists he's claiming to have uncovered in the Department of Defense:
Mrs. Iselin: I'm sorry, hon'. Would it really make it easier for you if we settled on just one number?
Senator Iselin: Yeah. Just one, real, simple number that'd be easy for me to remember.
[Mrs. Iselin watches thoughtfully as her husband thumps the contents of a bottle of Heinz Tomato Ketchup onto his plate. Cut immediately to the floor of the Senate.]
Senator Iselin: [addressing the Senate] There are exactly fifty-seven card-carrying members of the Communist Party in the Department of Defense at this time!
Now skip ahead fifty years.
This week Rep. Allen West, a Florida Tea-Party Republican who's been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential nominee in the coming election, told his constituents at a local town hall meeting:
I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democratic Party that are members of the Communist Party,”I like to imagine a hastily-called meeting with West and his staffers:
“'Seventy-eight to eighty-one'?” West complains. “Can't we pin it down to something I can remember?”
The hotel room is quiet, except for the tinny sound of a smart phone playing music on a nearby table. As a staffer reaches over to shut off the device, she glances idly at the screen and sees:
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Cut directly to:
Cut directly to: