Decoding political attitudes

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I was initially baffled by the political stance of "John Q. Esq.", who submitted this NYT comment:

Having simultaneously benefited from Obamacare and despised Obama and his party for bringing it to them, I have absolutely no doubt what-so-ever that the low information voters who voted for the Republican Congress and Trump will enthusiastically turn out to vote for them again in 2018 and 2020, respectively, while angrily blaming Obama and Democrats for the loss of healthcare that the GOP has stripped them of. The vicious cycle will continue in our broken democracy – this I am sure of.

Stage 1 of my reaction: Interesting that he describes himself as "having simultaneously benefited from Obamacare and despised Obama" — unusual self-awareness there.

Stage 2: What, he also despises "the low information voters who voted for the Republican Congress and Trump"? Disdaining the whole spectrum of American politics, he must be a radical libertarian. Or maybe a monarchist? A Trotskyite? And he got 457 thumbs-up recommendations — Americans really are politically alienated these days!

Stage 3: Oh, uh, I see; it's those "low-information voters" who benefited and despised, not the comment writer. Now "them" also makes sense. And John Q. Esq. is just a standard elitist liberal Democrat after all.

So, another example for the archives of The Fellowship of the Predicative Adjunct.

Some previous posts on dangling modifiers:

"Stunningly inept modifier manners", 3/10/2005
"Dangling modifier in the Declaration of Independence", 7/4/2005
"The Fellowship of the Predicative Adjunct", 5/12/2005
"Unlike dangling", 1/24/2006
"Who is the decider?", 4/26/2006
"Danglers: Discourtesy, not ambiguity", 6/14/2006
"Dangling in Paris", 3/25/2007
"Dangling as promised?", 4/7/2009
"Who's been in Australia?", 4/15/2009
"A dangler in The Economist", 10/8/2009
"Firemen, dental practice, and danglers", 3/20/2010
"Free that jar, save those officials… unh?", 8/16/2010


  1. Yuval said,

    March 11, 2017 @ 9:07 am

    Love the meaningless "respectively" there.

  2. Lazar said,

    March 11, 2017 @ 9:35 am

    I got it the first time round – the "them" indicated to me that the adjunct wasn't describing the writer.

  3. ambisinistral said,

    March 11, 2017 @ 10:29 am

    He was not talking about himself, he was talking about voters who — in his opinion — benefitted from Obamacare while hating Obama all the same. Many logical failures in that little piece.

    [(myl) Thank you for restating the point of the post.]

  4. David L said,

    March 11, 2017 @ 11:09 am

    "what-so-ever" has a certain 19th century charm.

  5. Rachael said,

    March 11, 2017 @ 11:27 am

    Yuval: why meaningless? Doesn't it mean congress in 2018 and Trump in 2020?

  6. Lazar said,

    March 11, 2017 @ 11:54 am

    Well, Congress in 2018 and 2020 and also Trump in 2020. Sesquirespectively?

  7. Robert Coren said,

    March 11, 2017 @ 3:33 pm

    He seems to have gone out of his way to strand prepositions, or at least all possible instances of "of".

  8. Yuval said,

    March 11, 2017 @ 5:40 pm

    @Rachael – Wow, missed the antecedent, but probably due to what @Lazar pointed out.

  9. Breffni said,

    March 12, 2017 @ 2:45 am

    Dangling predicates rarely cause me any comprehension problems even if I notice them, but this one tripped me up too.

    I also ran into trouble with "angrily blaming Obama and Democrats for the loss of healthcare that the GOP has stripped them of", which I initially thought was a misnegation (the GOP stripped them of loss of healthcare?), but I see it's readable as "loss of [healthcare that the GOP has stripped them of]".

  10. ardj said,

    March 13, 2017 @ 8:53 am

    This is certainly a dangling modifier, but does not fit the "meaningless" character that Professor Pullum described (correctly, in his instances) in his "Fellowship" post (loved the container). Lazar is right about the dotted crotchet aspect of respectively, but the rest makes perfect sense – except that there should be a 'the' before 'healthcare'.

  11. Rubrick said,

    March 13, 2017 @ 4:41 pm

    Such an easy fix, too. Substitute Since they for Having and the whole problem goes away. The problem of phrasal attachment, I mean. The problem of dysfunctional democracy might take a little more work. Man, writing is hard.

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