Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Purple Prose Department

John F. Burns writes in his front-page article, "Both the New and Routinely Old Shape Daily Life in Baghdad," in the Friday, April 4, NYT:

"Since the war began two weeks ago, the people of Baghdad have been exposed to a reality so stark, so astonishing, so overwhelming, that those who have witnessed it have struggled to find words adequate to express what they have seen.

"To have been in Berlin or Dresden or Hamburg in the last months of World War II would surely have been more ghastly, for the sheer numbers of casualties caused by the Allies' bombing.

"But American air power, as the 21st century begins, is a terrible swift sword that strikes with a suddenness, a devastation and a precision, in most cases, that moves even agnostics to reach for words associated with the power of gods."

How the Hell Does the Writer Know That? Department

Same day as above, front page (B1) of the Nation at War section: "Marines Cruising to Baghdad: Fleeing Civilians Cheer U.S. Troops" (online titled simply "Cruising to Baghdad"), by Dexter Filkins:

Grafs five and six: "The Iraqis crammed into buses, cars and taxis, piling out of a city they said was no longer safe. One man drove himself and his family south on a motorcycle and sidecar, another in a 1954 Dodge pickup. A third man, standing in the bed of his pickup, raced down the highway shouting the only words in English he knew.

" 'George Bush!' he cried, whizzing past."