Saturday, May 26, 2007

Why Was Newt Gingrich Speaker of the House?

Because he sure as hell can't write!

My grammarian readers (I know there are at least two of you) will enjoy Janet Maslin's review of Pearl Harbor, the latest book by everyone's favorite "family values" hypocrite, Newt Gingrich (cowritten with William R. Forstchen). Apparently this book was so important that the rushed publisher decided to skip the copyediting phase. How else could you explain painfully redundant phrases like "to withdraw backward was impossible?" (Actually, Newt, to withdraw forward is impossible.) Maslin writes
This is not a matter of isolated typographical errors. It is a serious case for the comma police, since the book’s war on punctuation is almost as heated as the air assaults it describes.
She follows with an example. But this is my favorite passage from Pearl Harbor:
James nodded his thanks, opened the wax paper and looked a bit suspiciously at the offering, it looked to be a day or two old and suddenly he had a real longing for the faculty dining room on campus, always a good selection of Western and Asian food to choose from, darn good conversations to be found, and here he now sat with a disheveled captain who, with the added realization, due to the direction of the wind, was in serious need of a good shower.
Perhaps I was wrong about skipping the copyediting phase. It is perfectly reasonable for a copyeditor, after reading a sentence like that, to throw up his or her hands in defeat. I mean, it can be fixed but where would you start?

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