Today we’ll talk about how to write a New York Times op-ed in 45 minutes or less. We all like labor-saving tips!
The main point to keep in mind is that your op-ed is not intended to elucidate, educate or amuse. These are status pieces meant to strike a pose, signaling that you are a good person.
After reading your op-ed, readers should feel the warm sensation of being superior to other people — those who don’t agree with you. The idea is to be in fashion. It’s all about attitude, heavy on eye-rolling.
(1) Psychoanalyze conservatives as paranoid and insecure. Liberals — who, to a man, have been in psychoanalysis — enjoy putting people they disagree with on the operating table and performing a vivisection, as if conservatives are some lower life form.
Thus, for example, an op-ed in this week’s Times by Arthur Goldwag was titled “Putting Donald Trump on the Couch.”
This should not be confused with Justin A. Frank’s 2004 book, “Bush on the Couch,” offering a detailed diagnosis of Bush’s alleged mental disorders.
Nor should it be confused with a column that went up on Daily Kos the day after I wrote this column, psychoanalyzing me. (I’m just glad I snubbed the guy in high school.)
Goldwag explained: “Mr. Trump’s angry certainty …”
Let’s pause right here. I am obsessed with Donald Trump. I wish I could cancel my book tour and just lie in bed watching his speeches all day long. I’m like a lovesick teenager studying Justin Bieber videos. And I’ve never seen Trump look angry.
(Goldwag continued) ” … that immigrants and other losers are destroying the country while the cultural elites that look down on him stand by and do nothing resonates strongly with the less-educated, lower-income whites who appear to be his base.”
Yes, Trump’s base are “less-educated.” This is as opposed to Democratic voters, who couldn’t figure out how to fill in a Florida ballot in 2000.
True, writing like this will expose your own gigantic paranoia at being excluded from historic WASP America. If you start obsessing over the Augusta National Golf Club (as the Times did for one solid decade), people will naturally begin to suspect that you’re resentful toward traditional American culture.
But I am not giving lessons in self-esteem here. I’m trying to help you dash off an op-ed in record time. Psychoanalysis has been liberals’ go-to move forever.
Following the 1964 presidential election, the American Psychiatric Association was forced to issue “the Goldwater rule,” prohibiting shrinks from psychoanalyzing people they’d never met, after a few thousand of them had issued their professional opinion that Barry Goldwater was nuts. (A “frightened person,” “paranoid,” “grossly psychotic” and a “megalomaniac.”)
Some Times writer probably produced an op-ed calling Calvin Coolidge “paranoid.”
It’s not very interesting, but, again, the sole purpose of your op-ed is to assure the status-anxious that they are better than other people.
(2) The perfect hack phrase is to say conservatives are “frightened of the country changing around them.”
— “The Tea Party, to be most benign about it, is primarily white, it is witnessing a country changing around it. It feels angry, feels — the diversity.” — Katrina Vanden Heuvel, MSNBC, May 24, 2012
(You want angry? Go to an Al Sharpton rally.)
— “Old white guys (are) caught in a demographic vice, right? (They) are frankly a little nervous, right? The country is changing around them. … The country is becoming more brown, and more — younger. And the values are changing. Gay rights, women are working. I mean all of these things are happening and they are not quite sure what to do.” — Jamal Simmons, MSNBC, June 15, 2013
— “I don’t think these are organized hate groups. These are, by and large, more or less everyday citizens who are very fearful of the way the world is changing around them.” — Mark Potok, (spokesman for the country’s leading hate group, the Southern Poverty Law Center) in “Changing World Draws Racist Backlash,” The Philadelphia Tribune, June 28, 2010
I thought it was a nice gesture that Mark admitted that conservatives are not “organized hate groups.” We owe you one, Mark! You’re a super guy.
(3) Call conservatives “aggrieved” as often as possible. Yes, this from the party of reparations, #BlackLivesMatter, comparable worth, “Lean In,” the DREAM Act and so on. If the Democratic Party were a reality TV show, it would be called “America’s Got Grievances!”
— “‘We don’t have victories anymore,’ Mr. Trump told those deeply aggrieved Americans in June.” — Arthur Goldwag, op-ed: “Putting Donald Trump on the Couch,” The New York Times, Sept. 1, 2015
— “Mr. Bush has to win over a fair chunk of the aggrieved, frightened Trump voters.” — New York Times editorial, Aug. 26, 2015
— “You have this aggrieved conservative industry that makes their money by being aggrieved.” — John Feehery, Republican spokesman for former Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, quoted in New York Times, Jan. 15, 2015
You’re doing this not just for the $75 you’ll make for writing a Times op-ed. Dreadful hacks meet a need.
A lot of people are followers by nature. They just want to be told: Here are the politicians you admire, and here are the ones you disdain; here are the people you worship, and here are the ones you disparage; here are the TV shows you like, and here are the ones you despise.
Times writers are like personal shoppers for people too lazy to form their own opinions. Just don’t imagine that this is good writing, comedy or art. But it’s not bad for something you can dash off in about 45 minutes!
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