According to the Politico, Michael Barone has made a (modified) Kinsley Gaffe. A Kinsley gaffe is when a politician accidentally tells the truth; in Michael Barone's case, he made a comment that was not met with acclaim by his audience:
A roomful of academics erupted in angry boos Tuesday morning after political analyst Michael Barone said journalists trashed Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republicans' vice presidential nominee, because "she did not abort her Down syndrome baby."
Barone said in an e-mail that he "was attempting to be humorous and ... went over the line."
“The liberal media attacked Sarah Palin because she did not abort her Down syndrome baby," Barone said, according to accounts by attendees. "They wanted her to kill that child. ... I'm talking about my media colleagues with whom I've worked for 35 years.”
About 500 people were in the room, and some walked out.
Barone did not dispute the accounts of his remarks. Asked about the comments, Barone said in an e-mail that he "was attempting to be humorous and, as many in public do, went over the line."
"Sorry for that," Barone said. "I was trying to focus on press hostility to Palin. I agree with [Washington Post media reporter and CNN 'Reliable Sources' host] Howard Kurtz that the press was much more interested in tracking down negative information on Palin than Obama."
While I don't think that Barone's comment provides all of the explanation for the animus toward Sarah Palin (she was, after an effective motivator of the Republican base and therefore a threat to their favored candidate) I do believe he has captured a source of the intensity of the Sarah Palin hatred.
Abortion is a deeply personal and emotionally charged topic. Those who are Pro-choice must go through various intellectual distortions to avoid knowing that to abort a fetus is the same thing as killing a living (almost fully) human. This is an extremely painful idea for the Pro-abortion side which is why they have invented various euphemisms to disguise what they support. A fetus is a mere clump of cells; they are not pro-abortion but rather are pro-choice, etc. The problem is that from the moment that the first photomicrographs of weeks old fetuses were published (and I have not had the time to do a search on when that occurred but believe it was in the 1980s) the idea that an abortion involved the removal of a mere clump of cells became untenable. By the middle trimester the fetus is recognizable as a human being; it looks like a baby. By the third trimester, the baby is viable, capable of surviving outside of the womb without any extraordinary measures. These pictures and the medical reality that accompanies them, have been instrumental in moving people's opinions on "abortion on demand." Most Americans now support first trimester choice, a majority reluctantly support second trimester choice, and only a small minority support third trimester abortion (which is so uncomfortably close to infanticide.)
When people describe themselves as Pro-choice they are implicitly stating that for any pregnancy one can weigh the effects of the pregnancy in terms of its impact on the lives of the parent(s) and the family, and compare this to their evaluation of the quality of the future child's life. Those who are most brutally honest with themselves will recognize that they are explicitily valuing their ________ (fill in the blanks: future prospects, convenience, security, comfort, lifestyle, etc) against the value of the child's life. In cases where a child is likely to face the bleakest of futures, most people would be quite sympathetic to a decision to terminate the pregnancy, recognizing at all times how difficult such a decision must be. An Orthodox Jewish couple, who do not believe in abortion and learn they are carrying a child with Tay-Sachs disease (one of the cruelest of genetic disorders) will face many hardships; no one could fault them if they decided to terminate the pregnancy. Many situations represent more ambiguous situations. When a couple learn their soon-to-be newborn suffers from Down's Syndrome, there are a range of reactions. It requires a fair amount of faith, courage, will, and confidence to decide to keep a child who will be handicapped in their life and may require life long care from their family. Many families learn that they gain as much from their child as they give, but prior to the birth they have no way to know this and must not only deal with the loss of their expectations but also accommodate to their changed circumstances. There is nothing easy about this.
For the mostly shallow Pro-choice forces who see abortion as an unalloyed good rather than a conflicted, reluctantly considered necessary, and painful decision, the idea that Sarah Palin was willing to "walk the walk" raises extremely uncomfortable questions. When people are exposed to painful realities they often react with anger. When they also feel some (mostly unconscious) shame, their anger is escalated to rage. The easiest defense for such shame and anger is to externalize the conflicted feelings and assign their genesis to a scapegoat. The audience of academics who booed, simply replaced considered thought with their emotional denial and rejection and thereby avoided feeling a whole panoply of uncomfortable emotions. Michael Barone's comment was much too close to the truth for them to tolerate; it was a journalistic Kinsley Gaffe.
[I have written more extensively about some of the psychological factors invovled in aboriton in a series on Abortion on Demand: Reverberations and Vicissitudes:
As well, I have written about the impact of learning of a mother's abortion in "Where Do I Come From?"]
So, perhaps from now on we can speak of a Barone gaffe, where a journalist accidentally tells an uncomfortable truth about his colleagues?
It is always nice to see when someone agrees with you:
UPDATE: Related thoughts from Michael Barone. Joking or not, I think he's right.