A "Reverse Palin Effect" portends surprise for media, pollsters and critics like Kathleen Parker.
Kathleen Parker, a non-leftist pundit, predicts in her October 22, 2008, column (It's Not the Economy) that a "Reverse Bradley Effect" will cause voters normally inclined to vote for John McCain to vote for Barack Obama despite having told their "friends" they intend to vote for McCain. Parker's theory is that such voters perceive what Parker (and other non-leftist pundits) perceive to be Sarah Palin's intellectual deficiencies and McCain's "bad judgment" in selecting her and that such perceptions will cause those voters to vote for Obama despite having told their "Republican" or "conservative" friends they intended to vote for McCain. She opines that such behavior manifests a fear of being perceived by one's friends as having become "liberal." Given what's known about the ambiguities of human motivation, no one could seriously dispute that the behavior of at least some voters will fit such pattern.
However, I believe (indeed, I predict) that the election will reveal a different effect, for which I hereby coin the term "Reverse Palin Effect," which will greatly exceed what Parker predicts. I base this prediction on what I perceive to be other factors that ostensibly have eluded the grasp of Parker, of other non-leftist pundits and of the so-called "mainstream" media (the "SCMSM"). Hereafter, I use the term "Palin-Dissers," which I hereby coin to identify those who dismiss, disrespect, underate and underestimate Palin, to include Parker, other like-minded non-leftist pundits and most members of the SCMSM.
The Palin-Dissers' perception of Palin causes them to draw what I believe are incorrect inferences about changes in the "public" favorable/unfavorable perception of Palin, which (according to polls) shifted from significantly net-positive (shortly after her nomination) to significantly net-negative (beginning a couple of weeks later). Palin-Dissers believe to be correct, rather than merely correctly recognizing the existence of, the public perception of Palin as "unprepared to be President" in the wake of her lengthy interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, from which ABC and CBS respectively broadcast brief video clips obviously selected to convey a "deer in the headlights" impression of her. One need not be a rocket scientist to know that if Joe biden were to have been a fresh face on the political scene having spent thirty years studying foreign policy in a think-tank (instead of in the Senate) who then gave an excellent acceptance speech yielding a substantially net-positive favorable/unfavorable perception in the public mind, such perception would have quickly changed to substantially net-negative if the SCMSM were to have thereafter concentrated on publicizing utterances by Biden such as his claim that when Franklin Roosevelt was President, he dampened fear of the American people by addressing them via television in 1929 immediately after the stock-market crash-- never mind that Roosevelt wasn't elected until 1932 and that television did not exist as a nationwide broadcast medium until after World War II. Everyone regularly knowledgeable about politics (which, unfortunately, does not include most Americans) knows Biden is prone to utter "gaffes" with greater regularity than many of his peers in the Senate. Yet even his critics (including yours truly) who think he would not make a good President would not characterize such gaffes as representative of his "intellect" or characterize him as a person not "qualified" to be president. He's simply not a "stupid" or "unqualified" person. Like all humans, he has many great qualities as well as a number of not-so-great or even bad qualities.
It's relatively easy to understand why leftists draw unwarranted and overly broad negative inferences about Palin from her missteps, and, for purposes of this commentary, it would be irrelevant to focus on "why." It's more difficult to understand why non-leftist Palin-Dissers draw such inferences. I think they fall into two categories: Those in what George Will (no mean Palin-Disser) derisively calls "the chattering class" (i.e., "pundits") and what I will call "ordinary Palin-Dissers" outside the "chattering class" who are politically active and/or often discuss politics with friends, co-workers or relatives. Many, but certainly not all (and probably not most) in both classes share higher than normal desires not to be deemed a "fool" or a merely "ordinary" thinker. They share a higher than normal desire for their judgment on "political" matters to ultimately be deemed (by peers, friends, etc.) "vindicated" (Forgive my split infinitive.)
The chattering-class Palin-Dissers' perceptions of her lack of what they deem indicia of "intellectual" qualifications-- i.e., academic accomplishments (beyond merely having earned a college degree), reading list, travel, "traditional" religious beliefs (i.e., beliefs that are more ecumenical than evangelical or fundamental) and what they deem "intellectual curiosity" -- blind them to other traits that are essential to qualify one as a leader: courage, judgment, executive ability, common sense and intellectual aptitude (in contrast to intellectualism). In 1980, many non-leftists members of the chattering class were initially blind to Ronald Reagan's qualifications for similar reasons. Many of them viewed him as an intellectually unsophisticated person guided by reliance on anecdotal evidence fitting his pre-concieved views and by uncritical acceptance of outdated "bromides." Reagan and history proved them wrong.
The ordinary Palin-Dissers' derive perceptions of her from their peers as well as from the chattering-class Palin-Dissers and the SCMSM, but I believe that what they perceive as their peers' views of her has a greater influence upon two aspects of their attitudes towards her than their perceptions of the chattering-class Palin-Dissers or the SCMSM: One aspect of their attitudes towards her is what they convey to their peers; the other aspect is the perception of her that they internalize. It's the former attitude that misleads the chattering-class Palin-Dissers (such as Parker) to expect and predict a "reverse Bradley effect." Parker believes that significant numbers of ordinary Palin-Dissers are "closet" Palin-Dissers who, out of a sense of loyalty to their perception of "Republican" or "conservative" politics of those among their peers whose opinions they value, outwardly convey either tepid or enthusiastic support for her, but who will, in the quietude of the voting booth, cast a vote against her by voting for Obama.
What the chattering-class Palin-Dissers do not (or cannot) understand is that among "ordinary" people, there is another class of ostensible "Palin-Dissers," who are really closet Palin supporters, but who, out of fear of being perceived by their peers as being supportive of the caricatured beliefs and qualities of Palin portrayed in the SCMSM, either portray themselves to peers as "non-supporters" or as Palin-Dissers. I categorize this group of people as the Faux-Palin-Dissers. I believe the Faux-Palin-Dissers among "ordinary" people vastly outnumber the real Palin-Dissers. In other words, the closet Palin supporters vastly outnumber the closet Palin-Dissers. That's why I think the election will reveal a "Reverse Palin Effect," with the result being that far more people perceived by their peers before the election as Palin-Dissers will vote for McCain/Palin than people perceived as Palin supporters will vote for Obama.
I also believe there to be a sub-class of ordinary Palin-Dissers whose opposition to Palin stems not from the perceptions of her held by most of the non-leftist Palin-Dissers in the chattering-class but from the ordinary Palin-Dissers' strong disagreement with what they perceive as her views on abortion. Although Palin predicated her stated opposition to Roe v. Wade on an assertion that each state, rather than the federal government, should decide the legality/illegality of abortion, it's my understanding of her views that if she were voting on a state law, she would favor a law banning abortion except when warranted to protect the life of the mother and that she would oppose exceptions for rape, incest or the "health" of the mother. I think -- as does the vast majority of Americans -- that such views are extreme. But I likewise think that the chances of such extreme views becomeing the law of the land (even if Palin were to become President and even if a Republican majority were to be elected in the Senate and House during her presidency) are far, far more remote than the risks to our national security posed by election of Obama to head a one-party state exemplifying a political philosopny resembling "blame America first" more than the ideals exemplified in a part of John F. Kennedy's inaugural address, which I paraphrase: Let friend and foe alike know that America will support any friend, oppose any for, pay any price, and bear any burden to assure the ultimate triumph of liberty over totalitarianism for ourselves and our posterity.
Additionally, the non-leftist, chattering-class Palin-Dissers' excessive faith in the trappings of foreign policy "expertise" blinds them to other aspects of Palin's qualfications for being an effective president in advancing our, and our posterity's, national-security interests in assuring the ultimate triumph of liberty over totalitarianism. She has both political and personal courage and possesses the requisite intellectual understanding of the vital necessity for America not to flinch from a commitment to enable liberty to ultimately triumph over totalitarianism.
She exhibited political courage during her rise to political power in Alaska when she resigned from the Oil and Gas Commission as a matter of principle when the prevailing political establishment in her own party failed or refused to respond appropriately to what she correctly percieved as political corruption. Her resignation ultimately led not only to such corruption being exposed and eliminated but also to her becoming Governor by campaigning on the same principles that had led her to resign from the Commission. In contrast, I do not know a single instance in which Barack Obama has exhibited comparable political courage.
She exhibited personal courage in choosing to bear, rather than abort, a child whose needs will surely impose far greater parental responsibilities and commitment. (I say that not to condemn women who may have made a different choice due to what they may have deemed other compelling responsibilities or factors; rather, I say it to simply recognize the courageousness of Palin in adhering to her principles and her sense of compassion.)
She has the requisite intellectual (and common-sense) understanding of our and posterity's need for America to remain steadfast in, rather than flinching from, or apologizing for, combatting totalitarianism and statism. It's an understanding that Reagan displayed but which eludes the Left. The fear among the non-leftist chattering classes was so great that in 1980, when Reagan had secured the nomination for President, there was chattering-class support for Reagan picking Gerald Ford as his vice-presidential running mate to serve as the "foreign-policy President" with Reagan confining his "expertise" to domestic issues. Many in the non-leftist chattering class sincerely believed that Reagan lacked the requisite foreign policy "expertise" to be President. Reagan and history proved how wrong they were. Like Reagan, Palin possesses the requisite undertanding of the bedrock principles about the struggle between liberty and totalitarianism/statism to be a President capable of serving well our, and our posterity's, national security interests. In contrast, Obama seems to believe that "internationalists" who share his faith in globalized government and whose political beliefs are substantially to the left of those of most Americans offer the best hope for the future measured not by the scope and breadth of liberty but by the materialistic, spread-the-wealth, zero-sum-game philosophy of socialists or socialistic liberalis.
Finally, as a person who rose rapidly from an indisputably middle-class family familiar with economic challenges, running a business, the need to balance responsibilities of family and work, and the value of optimistic self-reliance, she lacks the intrinsic faith in "government programs" as solutions, which is the political altar at which Obama appears to worship. This gives her the kind of judgment that is rare in Washington. It's been said (by whom I can't recall) that what one person "doesn't know" can make such person's excercise of judgment (after learning the facts) far less dangerous than what another person "knows" that isn't true. I fear what Barack Obama "knows" that isn't true far, far more than I fear what Sarah Palin "doesn't know."
Jim is a proud descendant of 18th Century criminal exiles from England who swam to the Outer Banks when the British ship taking them to a Georgia penal colony sank in a storm near Cape Hatteras. Having the prescience to prevent their descendants from becoming "TarHeels," they immediately migrated to Virginia, where, within just a few generations they worked their way up into poverty. Jim's grandfather was the first in the family tree to see the distant horizons, but his career was cut short by severe injuries he sustained when a cousin cut down the tree.
After a brief stint in the Amry (ours) following graduation from law school, he began his legal career in the state bureaucracy but was never able to break into the federal bureaucracy. Several years later, he entered the private practice of law and co-founded a small law publishing company. Later, finding the publishing of small laws unstimulating and finding his private practice too private to be lucrative, he began writing political satire/commentary. His greatest vice is taking himself too seriously.
Although he regularly teaches Continuing Legal Education courses to lawyers, he's too-often available through he Rubber Chicken Speakers Bureau to speak on politics, satire, etc., at luncheons, dinners, root canals, funerals, etc. His speaking fees are so outrageously high they border on criminal price-gouging, but as a free-market advocate, he defends his fees on the higher moral ground of charging whatever the traffic will bear. For more information (surely more than one would want or need), go to www.PoliSat.Com.