Monday, October 09, 2023

Guiliani Agonistes


In my business, sometimes you come across English sentences that are such astonishing uses of the language that you grab your Commonplace Book, and you copy it down where it will always be. A sentence that surprised and satisfied your curiosity. A construction of balance and beauty.

I read a long piece in the New York Times by Matt Flegenheimer and Maggie Haberman about Rudolph Guiliani's drinking problem and why it's become an issue in whether Donald Trump has an excuse for his actions on January 6th. This sentence froze me: 

Yet to almost anyone in proximity, friends say, Mr. Giuliani’s drinking has been the pulsing drumbeat punctuating his descent — not the cause of his reputational collapse but the ubiquitous evidence, well before Election Day in 2020, that something was not right with the former president’s most incautious lieutenant.

I was online. If it had been in a book in my lap, I would have grabbed a pencil to mark it. The very architecture of logical thought -- and a sweep of history -- achieved via the versatility of the English language. (That trailing whipsaw of a dependent clause!)

I don't know who of the Times team, Flegenheimer or Haberman, wrote that particular sentence, but because his name comes first, I think it might be Matt Flegenheimer's work. Outstanding, whoever.

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