Monday, February 04, 2008

Kristol Mauls Commas


Published: February 4, 2008

Mr. Kristol is a conservative in politics but a profligate in commas. Is it too much to ask that a professional writer know comma lore?

lee drury de cesare

Normally reserved columnists and usually ebullient talk-radio hosts vie to express their disgust with McCain, and their disdain for the Republicans who are about to nominate him.

The redundant comma after “McCain” splits a compound object of the infinitive “to express.”

The ways of the world, and the decisions of our fellow Americans, occasionally warrant such a reaction.

Kristol splits a compound subject “ways” and “decisions” with a comma.

William F. Buckley, the father of the conservative movement, skewered liberals, but always with wit and élan.

The unneeded comma after “liberals” cuts off a restrictive adverbial prepositional phrase.

By 1980, bolstered by the growth-oriented doctrine of supply-side economics, and speaking the language of American uplift more than that of conservative despair, Ronald Reagan won the presidency.

The redundant comma after “economics” splits compound introductory participial phrases modifying “Ronald Reagan.”

Don’t tell us that it doesn’t matter if the next president voted to confirm John Roberts and Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court, or opposed them. Don’t close your eyes to the difference between pro-life and pro-choice, or between resistance to big government and the embrace of it.

The unneeded comma after “Court” splits compound verb “voted” or “opposed.”

The redundant comma after “choice” splits compound adverbial prepositional phrases.


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