Corbett's Standing

(A brief discussion twixt Baer & Baer's editor, a.k.a. BE)

BE: I want to ask you about your column on Gov. Corbett's rising poll numbers.

JB: Ask away.

BE: You assert that among the things helpful to his popularity in the state, currently its highest level since taking office, is that he's "not the quickest draw in the corral."

JB: Hey! You actually read the column?

BE: Some of it. But tell me why you think it's an asset.

JB: It comes, as noted, from years of discussion with people who know and work with Corbett and merely suggests he -- like most of us and most folks in politics -- is more persistent in his labors than an intellectual.

BE: And this is an asset now because?

JB: It's an assest because it aligns him with the majority of voters. He seems like one of us. It's an asset because, in my view, voters have had it with politicians who come across as too-smart, know-it-alls such as Barack Obama and Ed Rendell, both of whom often give the impression they know better than you do what's best for the country or state.

BE: So voters don't want overly smart people?

JB: They don't want people who SEEM that way. Not in the current atmosphere in which so many issues such taxes and spending, immigration and school vouchers have joined black/white issues such as abortion, gun control, gay marriage in the category of I-know-what-I-know, I-believe-what-I-believe, end-of-discussion. Plus, Corbett comes across as a likable, ordinary guy who doesn't look down on people and who plainly lays out simple positions and sticks to them.

BE: So rigid simplicity is the order of the day.

JB: More and more, it seems to me. I blame the explosion of blogs, cable TV and radio gab in which the vast majority of opinion is set in stone.

BE: Interesting, since democracy cannot function without compromise. And your column also says Corbett's numbers are good because he isn't out front doing a lot.

JB: Because his low-key style fits perfectly with the politics of the moment, which is that government is bad and costly and the only time we even want to see evidence of its workings is in instances of disaster-relief, which Corbett handled well during Hurricane Irene.

BE: So his good numbers are the result of his personality and governing style matching up with what a majority of voters want.

JB: For now. Remember, there are fights coming over issues such as school vouchers and state stores, things that can fundamentally change many peoples' lives. Then we'll see how he comes across. So far, the only change he's brought -- passing a budget on time and without new taxes -- is viewed as positive.

BE: And hence the bump in the polls.

JB: Bingo. I mean grrrr.