DEATH RATES….I’ve been reading Cori Dauber’s posts over at the Volokh Conspiracy for the past few days, and like many examples of conservative media criticism they strike me as mostly just semantic nitpicking in a desperate attempt to read something malicious into a fairly innocuous choice of words. But it’s a living, I guess.

Today, though, she goes completely overboard:

For some time we have been hearing, not only from critic’s of the administration’s policy but also in the straight press, the statement that almost one soldier a day has been killed in Iraq, and that this is evidence either of poor planning or that the policy is in deep difficulty. Given the caveats that every casualty is a tragic loss, what would be less than one loss a day? The return of the zero casualty policy of the Clinton years — which I thought had been discredited….

I just know that Professor Dauber knows perfectly well that what the media is really reporting is that (as of today) 138 American troops have been killed in combat since the beginning of May. That this happens to equal about one death per day is meaningless.

So why the ridiculous attempt to pretend that fractions don’t exist and that anything less than one death per day would obviously be a return to no tolerance for fatalities at all? Is it just a hamhanded way of taking a swipe at Clinton? A weird way of blaming the media for occasionally phrasing the death toll in different ways? A poor grasp of how rational numbers work?

Whatever it is, it’s childish. Surely academics who pretend to be doing serious analysis can do better.

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