state department

Mike Pompeo Has Launched a War on Misplaced Commas

It’s just comma sense. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a problem with improper punctuation and his staff is making sure everyone at the State Department knows about it.

According to CNN, the former Kansas congressman is such a stickler for proper comma usage that his staff has twice emailed State Department officials in recent months with instructions on how to properly use commas. The most recent email was sent this month and included “updated guidance … regarding correct use of commas in paper for Department principals.”

“The Secretary has underscored the need for appropriate use of commas in his paper (both their inclusion and omission),” the email declares. It also notes that Pompeo prefers adherence to the Chicago Manual of Style, which states “effective use of the comma involves good judgment, with the goal being ease of reading.”

CNN spoke to a State Department official who said that previous secretaries were annoyed by other punctuation and style peccadillos. Colin Powell “famously focused on font and font size,” while his successor, Condoleezza Rice, didn’t like people to mess with a document’s margins.

Pompeo’s insistence on proper punctuation puts him at odds with his boss, whose grammar is so bad he once made a grammar mistake in a tweet defending his grammar.

Mike Pompeo Has Launched a War on Misplaced Commas