Maureen Dowd, opinion columnist for the New York Times, writes a scathing article about the Bush family and administration, titled “Poppy Bush Finally Gives Junior a Spanking.” Although at first confusing, the article shaped up to be witty and bitter, two things that I feel should be exemplified in an opinion article. I think it is important to make the distinction between a persuasive article and an opinion article; persuasion requires more finesse and more delicate treatment of the opposing viewpoint. Opinion can be very direct and possibly offensive to those who take an opposite viewpoint.
“Poppy Bush Finally Gives Junior a Spanking,” is a political commentary accompanied by criticism of the Bush family. Dowd introduces the topic with something entirely different, segueing from visiting the set of “Game of Thrones” (beginning with a popular entertainment topic draws readers in) to how the elder George Bush finally voiced his disappointment with George W. Bush’s foreign policy. I was confused by the title because in my mind, I thought Poppy Bush was a woman, although by the middle of the article I understood.
For my own opinion piece, I want a catchy, witty title that is clear to the reader. I liked the voice that Dowd used in her article; it was shrewd and intelligent, belying her passionate stance on the topic. An opinion piece is an opportunity to express one’s views as a writer, but good opinion pieces include hard facts and evidence. I think Dowd’s piece could have used a few more facts about her topic without detracting from her bold style. She effectively incorporated quotations and I intend to do the same in my piece. Dowd could have included more digital media.
Another, very different, piece from the New York Times by J.L. Cowles called “Defeating my Anxiety,” contains opinions about religion. This piece is told like a narrative, detailing the author’s battle with anxiety and his solace in religion. The voice is much softer and less direct. The opinion is evident within the writing, but the purpose of the piece is less to explain an opinion and more to recount a story of overcoming anxiety.
I was surprised to find this in a section called “Opinionator.” I expected to find harsher rants in this category. I think this piece is an interesting way to express an opinion, but depending on the topic, it might not be effective. I will choose to emulate aa stronger, more deliberate style of opinion writing.