Monday, August 08, 2016

On Being, or on Message Down?

Just as a reminder that our British friends aren't the only ones who churn out the occasional post-comprehensible hed, there's this from the National Review. See how long it takes you to get the intended meaning:

Donald Trump made pro forma endorsements of Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Kelly Ayotte on Friday, which has led his supporters to argue his campaign is back on track. It does show that Trump can sometimes be forced to do things he doesn’t want to–the Pence pick was another example–but this wasn’t exactly a watershed event. His original non-endorsements were an exercise in pointlessly destructive pique, and quickly backtracking was literally the least he could do. But every time he reads from a script his boosters hopefully pronounce it a major turning point (presumably there will be more of this after tomorrow’s economic speech).

National Review is still a bastion of obsessive hyphenation, if not of full-on Buckleyesque high grammar. ("Quickly backtracking" isn't even figuratively the least he could have done.) The problem with the hed, of course, isn't that it's ungrammatical, but that -- as is so often the case -- it's grammatical about so many different things. Defining being is one of them; Message Down is another.

Easy cure: Quotes! Especially since the phrase doesn't appear in the text of the post, mark it in the hed: Defining "being on message" down.

On a completely unrelated note, enjoy the comments.  There are reasons a circular ambush with units this size is a bad idea.

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