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A 50-year-old former air-force captain, entrepreneur and chemistry teacher with Teach for America, Mrs Houlahan appears, crucially, to have been none of those impressive things for political effect.

The sentence is an excerpt from an article. I am confused about the meaning of the bold part which seems to lack a verb.

  • Crucially is a parenthetical modifying the entire clause headed by appears; the remainder of your bolded passage is an infinitival complement (to have been) to appears, as in She appears to have been sincere. The infinitival is cast in the perfect construction to mark it as a past eventuality. – StoneyB Feb 20 '18 at 13:33
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As far as I understand, it means that Mrs Houlahan didn't do any of the aforementioned things to improve her political standing or to achieve a political effect.

The reason why it seems to lack a verb is that the sentence starts before the comma:

Mrs Houlahan appears, crucially, to have been none of those impressive things for political effect.

And therefore, simplified, it is

Mrs Houlahan appears to have been none of those impressive things for political effect.

I hope that helps.

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