Courtesy of Postcards |
President Obama Restores the Serial Comma to Federal Stylebook
By Phil Maggitti
WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Barack Obama is expected to sign an executive order today that will reinstate the rules regarding the use of the serial comma to the Federal Elements of Style, the official guidebook for matters of grammar and usage in federal documents. The signing, accompanied by virtually no fanfare, is typical of the low-key manner in which President Obama has gone about reversing many of the policies of his predecessor.
|Obama giveth what Bush hath taken away.|
"As he did when he reversed President Bush's executive order mandating the use of Freedom fries instead of French fries on White House menus, President Obama is working behind the scenes to restore sanity and balance to federal discourse," top presidential advisor David Axelrod told the Reverend Al Sharpton on his MSNBC program, PoliticsNation, last night.
President Bush's executive order #20050412, which went into effect on Christmas Eve 2005, prohibited the use of the serial comma in official federal documents. The president's order came at a time when his approval ratings were disastrously low and a majority of Americans said they did not believe the president had a plan to employ the serial comma effectively. Therefore, he chose to eliminate it.
The serial comma is the comma that occurs before and in expressions such as red, white, and blue or piss, shit, and vinegar. Admittedly the serial comma could be omitted in those examples without resulting in confusion or unintentionally humorous results. In the following dedication, not so much: To my parents, Ayn Rand and God.
The writer of the following sentence in an review of a tribute to Merle Haggard could have benefitted from using the serial comma as well: "Among those interviewed were his two ex-wives, Kris Kristofferson and Robert Duvall.
"President Bush never 'got' the serial comma," said Mr. Axelrod. "Besides, he was intimidated because the serial comma is also known as the Oxford comma."
For these and other reasons President Bush argued that the price of maintaining the serial comma would have involved a significant outlay for tutoring that could not be justified when the United States was already fighting wars against poverty, drugs, crime, terrorism, breast cancer, bullying, and other evils.
Conservatives were quick to condemn President Obama's decision as "another attempt to micromanage government and another example of how he's not like us." The president's base, however, lauded him for not giving into "those elements" that would weaken the federal government.
"Now we can be sure that our intended meaning is safe and will be understood without confusion," said Vice president Biden. "If my good friend the president had permitted the serial comma—this stalwart defender against anarchy—to languish, where was it going to end? The mandatory use of the comma splice?"
|Freedom bulldog (l) and Freedom fries (r).|
In related news, White House said the president is "close to making a decision" about whether or not to reverse President Bush's executive order prohibiting federal employees from listening to the Dixie Chicks on personal music-playing devices during working hours.
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