John Burns, James Wolcott and Assorted Rabble

The fearless John Burns of the New York Times is regarded by his colleagues and competitors to be one of the — if not the — premier reporters in Iraq. So it’s not surprising that Burns’ starkly depressing Baghdad dispatch in the New York Times — he writes that life there “has become a deadly lottery” — has made bloggers sit up and take notice.

“Just because John Burns says it’s so bad doesn’t make it so etc., etc.,” writes Gregory Djerejian. “But it means a hell of a lot more than, say, if Maureen Dowd did.” Pro-war blogger Cori Dauber is also a Burns fan, but he doesn’t quite believe him: “[H]e writes as if he’s tired, and depressed, so tired and so depressed that he can’t keep it out of his writing.” Arguing that Burns’ piece lacks confirmable numbers on casualties and other incidents (though it’s actually loaded with chilling statistics), Dauber adds this bit of rhetorical jujitsu: “So the facts are true, at least the fact that the policy exists, but in essence he is still reporting gossip, if you see what I mean, when what he should be saying is, there is this policy, the import of which is hugely negative, everyone is talking about it.”

Oh, OK.

James Wolcott notes that The Corner’s K-Lo mentioned in passing that the president was in a “good mood” during his press conference yesterday, and asks readers to “ponder that for a moment”:

The White House announces a press conference in the morning. After the announcement comes the news that 31 Americans died in a chopper crash in Iraq (6 others died [yesterday] in separate incidents). The president takes the podium fresh with the knowledge of that tragedy — and radiates a cheerful disposition bantering with the press about senior citizens and their faulty memories. She can’t see something scarily wrong with that? She doesn’t spot some sort of emotional disturbance or disconnect? Imagine if Bill Clinton had been chirpy and chipper having just received the news of 31 soldiers dying in the theater of combat — Rush Limbaugh would have devoted three hours to it, and Fox News would have dragged Dick Morris out of the all-you-can-eat buffet for his “expert analysis.”

Powerline’s Hindrocket, who, based on this post, has done some training on his “jump to conclusions” mat, takes issue with this paragraph from a (now apparently rewritten) Washington Post story:

Some of the Democrats who opposed Rice were centrists from states in which President Bush won or ran strongly in November, including Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Mark Dayton (D-Minn.), Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).

Writes Hindrocket: “Centrists?? Mark Dayton? Robert Byrd? Carl Levin? And Tom Harkin?? These are some of the most far-left politicians who have ever served in the United States Senate. At the Post, ‘centrist’ apparently means ‘someone who isn’t any more liberal than we are.’”

Hindrocket may have a point, at least regarding one or two of those above names. But one would think the ostensible blog of the year would throttle the hyperbole down a gear or two.

Not that there isn’t plenty of it to go around in the blogosphere. Oliver Willis — whose tagline, “like kryptonite to stupid,” is admittedly one of the best around — takes issue with Michelle Malkin for writing a post about whether or not the man who caused the train tragedy in Los Angeles yesterday is an illegal alien. Writes Willis: “Never mind that our own honest-to-goodness American citizens cause all sorts of havoc and chaos on a daily basis … We must close the borders, seal the ports, shut down America.”

Is there a word for particularly hyperbolic sarcasm? Hypercasm? Sarbole? Whatever. We’re going to Moe’s.

Brian Montopoli

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Brian Montopoli is a writer at CJR Daily.