We’re taught in grammar school never to split an infinitive. (Or at least we used to be taught that in grammar school. Do they still teach grammar in grammar school?)
But rhetoric likes to break the rules, so long as it can break them rhetorically. And breaking the rule against infinitive-splitting can make for great rhetoric. Witness this fun sentence from Wonkbook whiz kid Ezra Klein.
Rick Santorum [is] about to very publicly come to the conclusion that Mitt Romney is not as bad as he previously thought.
Santorum faces a classic awkward political moment. Having trashed Romney for months, and having faced a barrage of well-funded Super-Pac negative advertising, the erstwhile presidential candidate must soon endorse his opponent. So how does Ezra Klein make that awkward moment seem awkward? By using awkward grammar!
A grammarian will want to edit Klein’s sentence, eliminating the “very publicly” in front of the verb. “To” and “come” count as one unified verb (an “infinitive”), and it’s just plain cruel to separate them. Or awkward, at least. Which is exactly why Klein does it.
Want your sentence to sound tortured? Try torturing an infinitive!