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Postmodern Grammar



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I would add to Ed Whelan’s commentary that when Obama said the following: “We’ve got to get the job done there [in Afghanistan], and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there,” he used present progressive indicatives (the mood and tense of fact) “we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing” and “is causing enormous pressure.” The meaning could not be clearer: we are killing civilians now, and that fact is now causing pressure. Note as well, the relative pronoun “which” that refers back to the killing and is the subject of its own verb “causing.” Why would the Washington Post employ postmodern grammar to suggest otherwise?

To contort the sentence to make it the hypothetical the Post wanted, Obama would have had to say something like, “We’ve got to get the job done there, and that requires us to have enough troops so that we would not just be air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which might/could cause enormous pressure over there.”



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