We believe Dowd meant to describe Howard Wolfson as keeping a straight face while drawing a silly comparison, not comparing the Obama campaign to a straight-faced Ken Starr. (What other kind is there?)
So, the sentence would be clearer as follows: "With a straight face, Hillary’s kneecapper Howard Wolfson compares the goo-goo Obama campaign to Ken Starr."
Harbrace 25a: Keep Related Parts of a Sentence Together.
To make your meaning clear to readers, place modifiers near the words they modify. Note how the meaning of the following sentences changes according to the position of the modifiers.
- Natasha went out with just her coat on.
- Natasha just went out with her coat on.
- Just Natasha went out with her coat on.
- The man who drowned had tried to help the child.
- The man had tried to help the child who drowned.
25a(1): In formal English, place modifiers such as almost, only, just, even, hardly, nearly, and merely immediately before the words they modify.
25a(2): Place a modifying prepositional phrase to indicate clearly what the phrase modifies.
MISPLACED: Arne says that he means to leave the country in the first stanza.
BETTER: Arne says in the first stanza that he means to leave the country .
MISPLACED: Heated arguments had often occurred over technicalities in the middle of the game.
BETTER: Heated arguments over technicalities had often occurred in the middle of the game.
From The Knoxville News Sentinel:
"...Vineyard Productions previously made a film called 'The Witness' for the Pequot Indian Nation in East Tennessee, so the area was already was on the company's radar when locations were being scouted...."
In the sentence above, the prepositional phrase "in East Tennessee" modifies "film," and not the Pequot Indian Nation, which is, of course, based in Massachusetts. This is a misplaced modifying prepositional phrase.