First, the quality standards are not that mysterious. You're linked to the How to Ask page in the sidebar when you get the "It does not meet our quality standards" message, which has links to even more resources. There are also good guidelines on what to do when you get this message on What can I do when getting “It does not meet our quality standards”?
More to your point:
All I seem to need to do is split the sentence up (unnecessarily) into two paragraphs, and the question is suddenly considered fit for SE. This makes no sense!
Yes, you're right, that doesn't really make any sense. The "Ask Question" submission probably should check to make sure you've done more than add a few characters of white space to game around the quality check. Maybe the first submission could be added as the initial draft of a question when the "quality standards" message is tripped (for something to compare subsequent submissions to)? I don't know if this would be worth the development effort, since most people hopefully make a sincere effort to improve their post.