A "thoughtless comment" would be something more flippant like, "lock 'em up and throw away the key!".
Tough on crime may only be a part of the formula, but it is a crucial and indispensable part
I didn't say it wasn't.
and without which the other parts are meaningless.
This is basically what I said but inverted. It's like if I said "1+1=2" and then you rebutted "yes, but let's not forget that 2=1+1".
Sorry for being concise and not verbose.