MERRIMACK, N.H. — As Tom Tancredo meandered through a living room phalanx of supporters, two young brothers squeezed their way forward to meet the long-shot Republican presidential candidate.
“Did you at least get out of some homework coming to this?” Tancredo joked.
“Spelling,” the older admitted with a shy smile, twisting in place as he blushed at the attention.
“I knew it!” Tancredo laughed. “I hope it’s worth it, but I have to warn you: There’s going to be test.”
Needless to say, neither a box of No. 2 pencils nor mimeographed quiz sheets were passed around at the end of the evening. If, however, there had actually been a test, the cheat sheet might have looked something like this:
“Open Borders” Synonym: Suicide Pact.
Multiculturalism: Popular cult in late 20th/early 21st Century United States.
“OTM”: Shorthand for Other Than Mexican illegal immigrants, many with nefarious purposes. (Tancredo: “They’re not all coming here to do jobs Americans won’t do, unless you can’t find an American to blow up an American city.”)
Balkanized: See United States, 2007.
Mecca/Medina: 1) Islamic holy sites; 2) places to aim tactical nuclear weapons at as a deterrent against terrorism. (Tancredo: “What motivates the jihadists? Is it Iran? Is it Saudi Arabia? No. It’s Allah.”)
Patriot Act: Something sissies worry about. (Tancredo: “People are worried about the Patriot Act? If a dirty bomb or a series of bombs are set off in this country, it’s going to make the Patriot Act look like a Sunday school picnic.”)
Sunday School Picnic: Social event superior to a dirty bomb.
Yes, there was a touch of apocalypse in the air as Tancredo, encircled by more than thirty solemn people gathered like soldiers around a general at the final battle, detailed a dystopian future in which America, broken economically (“We are importing our own poverty into this country”), disintegrates from within as jihadists send suicide bombers across every ruptured border while unassimilated immigrants who “hold Sharia law above the U.S. Constitution” and “Islamified” Europe applaud.
It may sound like a fairly bleak portrait, but humor was not entirely absent from the proceedings: Tancredo described catching a glimpse of his effigy being burned on the news one evening, a Death to Tancredo sign hung around its neck. “‘Death’ was spelled wrong,” the firebrand Colorado congressman guffawed shaking his head and bending over to slap his knee. “‘Tancredo’ was spelled right!”
EARLIER, A JUBILANT BILL LESTER had welcomed supporters and the curious alike as his wife Claire collected jackets and motioned to a tempting cookie and soda buffet. A placard in an adjacent sitting room festooned with Tancredo for President posters invited visitors to ponder a quote from erstwhile Nixon biographer Monica Crowley (“[Tancredo] was talking about the festering problem of illegal immigration before it was hip”) en route to the living room where In Mortal Danger occupied a place of honor on the mantelpiece and a larger than life Lou Dobbs stared out from a 72-inch television screen.
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