so, most op-ed columnists, radio hosts, and so on (start, say, with charles blow or gene robinson, either of whom could and sometimes does do much better), have moved off any attempt, say, to defend their policy positions, and on to sheer attempts to manipulate people, by calling other people, even the milquetoastiest, such as obama and romney, extreme or weird. the op-ed column, for example, has fully merged with the advertising industry, via political parties and campaigns and consultants; op-ed writers are more like political consultants every day; opinion journalism is now a wing of 'strategic' 'communications'. (an egregious example is the frank rich columns from 2008; week by week they mirrored the obama campaign's talking points, very often word for word.) it has repudiated truth or sincerity as anachronistic or impossible. one pitiful feature of this approach is that it cannot persuade anyone who doesn't already agree; it is explicitly designed to alienate and irritate anyone who doesn't agree. so the only idea is to manipulate people who already agree with you to agree with you.
seriously, you know 90% of the nyt's opinion readers or so are left of center, and yet it's written as though projected at their opponents; it's apparently intended to devastate them and make them feel bad for being on the wrong side. but of course everyone knows they're not there. they're insulting or in the best case arguing against them to each other, for their own edification. well, obviously let's say right-wing radio or sectors of fox and msnbc are the same. that is a very useless exercise. or what i'd say is that every column or rant is devoted to enhancing the self-esteem of the columnist or host and his audience: you're so great, so normal, so reasonable, because you're not like them. that this embroils the whole country in an ever-growing partisan divide that is ever-more contentless is neither here nor there i guess, compared to how rational and righteous you can persuade yourself you are, even by means that with complete clarity demonstrate the opposite.