While, of course, Douthat is taking some license to make a point…still, when rhetorical flourishes verge into easily avoidable misrepresentation (see also: #5), they’ve gone too far. Which brings us, finally, to:

8. The brazen hyperbole. Near the end of the column, Douthat refers to Obama’s win of the Nobel Prize as “this travesty.” Yes. This is a direct quote. (This is also, if you’re wondering, the point in the column at which I finally concluded that Douthat’s effort in this case may deserve the same epithet.) “By accepting the prize, he’s made failure, if and when it comes, that much more embarrassing and difficult to bear,” Douthat writes.

This reasoning is fairly absurd when applied to Obama (sure, the prize provides more irony-laden fodder for the president’s critics, but that fact does not a travesty make). Applied to Douthat, though—a young talent who has himself been given a pressure-cooker prize by way of a high-profile platform in The New York Times—the observation might be more true than the columnist would care to admit.

Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.