Monday, September 08, 2008

Media frenzy about Palin gave McCain his boost.

It is normal for a candidate to get a bit of a bump in the polls after their official nomination. If the most recent polls are accurate McCain got far more than a bump -- he took the lead.

Last week Gallup showed Obama in the lead by 7 points. Now they say McCain is leading by 10 points.

A few percentage points were expected but a shift of 17 points in total is rather surprising.

Neither McCain nor Palin offered any concrete proposals that would stimulate this much interest. Nor did Obama do something incredibly stupid. So why the jump?

I think at lot of it has to do with the Sarah Palin controversy. I think that many people responded to the media feeding frenzy the way I did -- they were disgusted about the dirty way the media had ganged up on her and tried out every unsubstantiated rumor they could find, in order to sink her.

A lot of Americans don’t like to see someone getting picked on unfairly -- we tend to champion underdogs. And in that battle Palin was the underdog. After the media had basically fawned over Obama the beat-up they did on Palin appeared even more vicious in contrast.

Certainly various Left blogs and web sites went into overdrive pushing claims about Palin that are either clearly false, or are vastly exaggerated. And please, I’m not recommending her. I have no desire to vote for her. But she is being down dirty by the media and the Left -- who often team up to beat up anyone questioning their perspectives.

Palin got more support merely because the media was so openly and obviously biased. A lot of voters, I suggest, thought this sort of underhanded attack was unfair and they felt sympathy for Palin. It is my belief that the media, quite unintentionally, pushed a lot of voters into Palin’s corner. They looked a bit like people who like to torment kittens -- even cat-haters can get angry when they see that happening and will step in to protect the cat.

There is one other way in which the media helped push voters into Palin’s, and thus McCain’s, corner. And in this area they had a lot of help from the blogosphere, political pundits, and Democrats. What we had was a concerted effort to attack Palin for who she was.

Now, I’m a bit of an elitist myself. I happen to think there are (classical) liberal values which are superior to others. I think reason is superior to faith. I think education is important, that culture is valuable, the intellect counts for something, etc. I’m no fan of vast areas of American culture. Call me a cultural elitist if you want and I’ll admit that I am -- I do believe some values are superior to others.

But I also know that the typical voter, that species Boobus Americanus, doesn’t see things that way. And when it comes to voting it is the will of the majority that prevails even when that will is wrong, uncouth, uneducated or just plain stupid.

The Iron Triangle of the media, the Left and the political elite went into overdrive emphasizing how Palin wasn’t one of them. She didn’t have the “qualifications” that they think are important. In fact, they went much further. They also made it clear that Palin was like -- well, just like the typical voter.

Remember the voters are watching this. Palin gets beat up unfairly and then insulted for being like a typical voter. As the voters see it, that means she’s a good old gal and perhaps worthy of support. The Founding Fathers never intended for a political elite to run the country -- though neither did they believe in democratic rule in every way, I should note. They did believe that citizen politicians were better than a ruling class.

Since then we have developed a ruling class and they don’t see eye to eye with the Founders -- as might be expected. Part of the assumptions of that ruling class is that you have pay your dues to them through a specific process where you eventually get admitted to their little club. And they are adamant that you have to be one of them to obtain the highest office in the land. What you can’t be is like one of the public.

This sort of sneering view of the typical voter is usually better hidden. But the Palin nomination caught them so by surprise that they had a knee-jerk reaction to her and started fuming. They also started saying precisely what they think -- a very dangerous thing in politics. The net result was that they appeared to be elitist snobs picking on a woman because she was a “soccer mom” and not the wife of a former president. Their contempt for Palin’s status as an “average” American was obvious.

But since “average Americans” will be the people who vote this November that sort of attack only endeared Palin with the public.

Obama, was somewhat similar to Palin, in that he came in as a political outsider. This is one reason that the political elite in the Democratic Party was so heavily behind Hillary. But Obama, as the outsider, appealed to the voters. Obama, however, has one advantage with the media that Palin doesn’t have -- he’s a Leftist. Obama is pretty open that he believes in the political control of the economy, which means he believes in having the political elite run things. So while his outsider status attracted him some support at the polls from the voters, his support for political elitism garners him the support of the media.

But still Obama road his outsider status to the nomination because the voters were the ones who decided who would get the nomination. While many in the media were furious that McCain nominated a woman, saying it was a flagrant attempt to win the Hillary vote, I suggest they may have it wrong. Palin’s appeal to voters will not be because of her gender. It won’t be the Hillary voters she attracts.

But she may have appeal with some Obama voters. She and Obama are both seen as outside the political elite. But with the media so cozy with Obama he will find it harder and harder to portray himself as the champion of the little guy. He needs to portray himself as one of the common people. He wants to appeal to the worker, the stay-at-home mom, the parents struggling with raising a family. Obama wants that image very badly.

Then his friends in the media, in their reactionary fury over Palin go and paint her with precisely the image that Obama wants. They didn’t do it to help her but to insult her. It was a big mistake on their part. By doing this they catapulted Sarah Palin into being the representative of the average American. And like, or not, it is those average Americans who will decide the election in November. All across the country the local equivalent of a "hockey mom" will be voting. Who do you think they'll identify with -- a mother who worked her way up and raised a family or a Harvard law school graduate? That is the comparison that Obama didn't want them making and that is now the contrast that the media has burned into the public's mind. Ooops.

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