Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Diagramming for dummies

Posted by Ron Coleman on October 1, 2008

Slate Magazine is diagramming Sarah Palin’s sentences, and concludes — surprise! — she’s a doofus.

Scanning this article (it is not worth more than a scan), what is remarkable is that despite being one of the best all-around destinations on the Internet for good, insightful writing, when it comes to politics Slate remains utterly unselfconscious in its bias.  There isn’t the slightest suggestion that the exercise of diagramming Sarah Palin’s sentences, which author Kitty Burns Florey starts out by characterizing as “scal[ing] the heights of inanity,” would be a tad more compelling if some control subject were suggested.

Diagram this

Diagram this

I’m not even asking that they apply this new brand of political analysis to the brilliant oral thinkings of the Honorable Barack Obama; we know that is unnecessary seeing as how he is a certified intellectual and academician. His words are beyond diagramming; they are our future, made flesh.

But … Joe Biden?  Are his verbal jetés (forget the fibbing part) really amenable to a diagram that Kitty wants someone with time on his hands on the GOP side to throw up there for serious analytical scrutiny?

How about — any politician on earth?  The stentorian John Kerry?  Bill Clinton — whoa, yes, there are some sentences in that portfolio I’d love to chart.  Also the Missus over there, yes, some real beauts.

“Sentence diagramming”:  It’s the new way to make your political cheap shots look pointy-headed and thoughtful-like!

Diagram this:  Duh.

UPDATE:  Like I said!


4 Responses to “Diagramming for dummies”

  1. […] discuss it at Likelihood of Success. Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and […]

  2. Ruth H said

    I wonder exactly where she would place all the stutterings and umms of Obama. He rambles as much or more than anyone in the public spotlight.
    Did she take the edited answers or did she go to the original and make sure to use the actual verbiage of Mrs. Palin? What an elitist.
    I love to diagram sentences but have never thought of doing it to use as a weapon.

  3. Aziz said

    Agreed, Ron.

  4. zach said


    i have to admit, initially i was all huffing. “that Ron, sees a conspiracy in everything!! what’s wrong with this article??” but i’ve reflected on it a moment and i’ve gotta say i’m with you on this one. as elizabeth reid pointed out at DW, few people’s speech patterns lend themselves to diagrammed sentences. leave aside whether it’s the height of pedantry to diagram someone’s written sentences, it approaches the absurd to do the same to someone’s spoken dialog.

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