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How Do You Solve a Problem Like Wendy?
On watching a formerly fawning media spin Davis’s false story.


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Jonah Goldberg

Fremdschämen Mädchen
How did I get on all this? Oh right, Wendy Davis.

Last June, when the media was largely ignoring Kermit Gosnell’s abattoir, it was fawning over Wendy Davis with a lack of self-awareness that fired up my Fremdschämen glands more than watching the infamous lost episode of The Office where Michael Scott auditions to be a gay porn star. The idiocy about Davis’s sneakers alone reached the point where I was expecting some Dana Bash type to rush onto the set during a broadcast and scream, “Screw that noise, Wolf! I’ve got a piece of the One True Shoe!”

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It wasn’t just the juxtaposition with the media’s scandalous reluctance to touch the Gosnell story. It was full spectrum obliviousness. You could simply feel their confidence that everyone should love this plucky hero from Texas. Even more palpable was their certainty that everyone they know feels the same way. MSNBC was a veritable 24-hour groupthink-cam in which we got to watch bunkered, insular, and smug MSMers assume everyone shares their pieties and preferences. “Isn’t she just fantastic! Who couldn’t love such a pretty lady who’s a spiffy dresser in sensible shoes? She went to Harvard! She’s a mom! And what a mom! She’s fighting to make sure that women can have their unborn babies dismembered in utero right up until the minute before delivery! Why, it’s the feel-good story of the year!”

Of course, that’s not how they characterized her agenda. They made it all about “women’s health” and their right to make their own medical choices. But as I ranted about here a while back, these are euphemisms for exactly one — okay, one and a half — things: abortion and birth control. (Birth control is half a thing because no one on the right is trying to ban non-abortifacient birth control. Some of us don’t want to pay for it, but I don’t want to pay for lots of things I don’t want banned. I don’t want to pay for your Blu-ray copy of The Oogieloves, but that doesn’t mean I want it outlawed.)

Moreover, these euphemisms are staggeringly hypocritical given the fact they are spouted by the very same party that is determined to take more and more health-care decisions away from women and their doctors. From that rant:

“You’ve got a state legislature up here that sometimes acts like it knows better than women when it comes to women’s own health-care decisions,” the president said at a typical rally in New Hampshire during the last campaign. “You know, my opponent’s got the same approach.”

How odd from the eponymous father of Obamacare, which will mandate that women (and men) pay for insurance coverage they don’t need. It will cause many women (and men) to lose their existing health-care plans. It will empower bureaucrats to decide what treatments for women (and men) the government will reimburse and which it won’t. Under Obamacare, women who smoke or are overweight can be charged 30 percent to 50 percent more for their health insurance.

These features are defensible from a liberal or statist point of view, but not if you actually believe that women have a special and unique right to make “health-care decisions” for themselves wholly unfettered by the government.


A Girl Like Wendy
So it should be no surprise that when I heard the news this week that Wendy Davis isn’t the person the media thought she was, my Fremdschämen gave way to schadenfreude. How to spin Davis’s embellishments is not my problem. It is a problem for the MSM which for some reason calls to mind The Sound of Music:

How do you solve a problem like Maria Wendy?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means MariaWendy?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!

The funny thing is that the liberal press — egged on by their research department at groups like ThinkProgress — was so convinced that its own infatuation was universal it never occurred to them that a) she might not be as awesome as they thought, b) that running for governor in Texas on a plank of “late term abortions for everyone!” is really pretty stupid, and c) that she’s not a great politician just because you like her.

The best evidence for this is the fact that she said the one thing — the one thing! — you shouldn’t say about your wheelchair-bound opponent: “He hasn’t walked a day in my shoes.”

I mean, bravo.

It’s just a shame she can’t run against Helen Keller. “My opponent needs to see the world through someone else’s eyes for a change!” “Ms. Keller refuses to listen to the voters!”

Still, I never quite understood how her now-moot version of her life story complemented her fight for late-term abortions. I mean her old tale was about how she was a single mom who managed to go to Harvard Law School, blah blah blah. Right? So the lesson was that having kids didn’t hold her back. So why would her life story give moral support for the idea that women need to have late-term abortions? Something doesn’t track there.

But now it turns out that her story is as operative as Anthony Weiner’s “My Twitter account was hacked” tale. The funny thing is the new, more accurate version of her life story is more helpful to the pro-choice side. It turns out that it was only because she had a generous and successful husband that she was able to go to Harvard. And it looks like she went to Harvard — instead of, say, Texas A&M — because she was more eager to go to Harvard than she was to be there for her kids (for the full, devastating, version of her story see Ann Coulter’s column. Mona Charen has a slightly more charitable take).

The honest version of the pro-choice position is that young women shouldn’t be, in Obama’s words, “punished with a baby” simply because they make a mistake. Abortion supporters are absolutely right that having a child is a huge responsibility that can require enormous sacrifices and can make it particularly hard for single mothers to advance their careers. The fact that Davis needed a husband to take care of her kids and send her to law school proves that point. The old story made it sound like being a single mom is no hindrance to accomplishing all of your life goals — which is an argument you’d expect to hear from a pro-lifer.


Julia Hearts Huckabee
Yesterday Mike Huckabee said something that had the “Wendy Davis for Pope!” crowd grasping for their fainting couches:

I think it’s time for Republicans to no longer accept listening to Democrats talk about a war on women. Because the fact is, the Republicans don’t have a war on women. They have a war FOR women. For them to be empowered; to be something other than victims of their gender. Women I know are outraged that Democrats think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have a government provide for them birth control medication. Women I know are smart, educated, intelligent, capable of doing anything anyone else can do. Our party stands for the recognition of the equality of women and the capacity of women. That’s not a war ON them, it’s a war FOR them. And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it, let’s take that discussion all across America because women are far more than Democrats have made them to be. And women across America have to stand up and say, Enough of that nonsense.

Now, I’ll leave it to others to debate whether this was the best way to make this argument. But I certainly think the shrieks of protest are a sign that it hit pretty close to the mark. After all, what was the worldview behind the Obama campaign’s “Julia” slideshow other than one in which future Wendy Davises will no longer need a wealthy husband to provide for them because the government will do it instead?



Meme Watch: Wendy Davis
Recent revelations that Texas politician and pro-abortion celebrity Wendy Davis fudged parts of her biography drew fire from critics who lambasted both Davis and the mainstream media for failing to dig into her past until now. Here’s a look at some Twitter commentary, illustrated by NR.
“Wendy Davis needs a man like a fish needs a rich bicycle that will pay its way through fish law school and take full custody of its spawn.” (@exjon)
“Wendy Davis Feminism: Stand By Your Man Until the Bills Are Paid” (@NolteNC)
”Blurred lines is a Robin Thicke song. It is not interchangeable with "lie." (@DLoesch)
“Hired Wendy Davis PR firm to redo my bio. Turns out I was orphaned. Then reform school, migrant worker. Very inspiring.” (@patsajak)
“So Abortion Barbie had a Sugar Daddy Ken. No exactly the bio she claimed.” (@EWErickson)
“Toots, no one is to blame but YOU and YOUR OWN lies for political gain. Here's the Cliffnote's version: You. Are. Insane.” (@LilMissRightie)
“@WendydavisTexas stands behind every word of her life story, says her spokesperson, Manti T'eo's girlfriend.” (@SooperMexican)
“Next, Wendy Davis will claim she bought her pink tennis shoes from a 1/32nd-Cherokee friend named T-Bone." (@exjon)
“Wendy Davis should really chat with Liz Warren about how to fabricate life stories.” (@guypbenson)
“Wendy Davis should just pack up and move to Massachusetts right away. The voters here love Harvard chicks who are complete frauds.” (@LADowd)
“Seems Obama and #WendyDavis are cut from the same "rewrite your past and embellish your life" to get elected cloth.” (@pambesteder)
“Amazing in all the Wendy Davis interviews by serious journalists, only now basic facts of her bio coming out” (@stuartpstevens)
“Hi MSM! So, if Sarah Palin did what Wendy Davis did, would that make it news? #caring” (@KurtSchlichter)
“Marco Rubio got second hand info wrong about his parents = OMG!!! SCANDALOUS!!! Wendy Davis lies about her life = Meh.
“If her Texas campaign flops, Wendy Davis has a future as chief diary consultant for the mayor of Hoboken.” (@Doc_0)
“Whoa. Wendy Davis had a boyfriend named Frank Underwood?” (@blakehounshell)
“I await Wendy Davis's lawsuit against the Dallas Morning News claiming it harmed her mental health by revealing her lies.” (@EWErickson)
“Waiting for Wendy Davis to turn "Dallas Morning Newsed" into a verb like "Swift Boated." (@JonahNRO)
“Wendy Davis: She didn't build that. She didn't get there on her own. (But really guys, Obama was right on this one)” (@KatiePavlich)
“Don't worry Democrats, there's still time for Wendy Davis to abort her campaign. And she'd be okay with it in the abstract.” (@EWErickson)
“This reminds me of the time Greg Abbott didn't make his wife pay his way thru law school then didn't dump her & his kids.” (@exjon)
FOOT IN MOUTH: Davis compounded her troubles with an ill-considered reference to her opponent in the Texas governor’s race, whom she accused of being involved in the story and also of not walking “a day in my shoes.” Greg Abbott is paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair.
“Wendy Davis out Joe-Bidened Joe Biden with that whole "hasn't walked a mile in my shoes" dig.” (@maxjkleber)
“Is @WendyDavisTexas really Joe Biden's younger self in drag? She just keeps digging her hole deeper. #WalkInMyShoes #AbortionBarbie” (@StarCoreOne02)
“Stories of struggle? Looks like @WendyDavisTexas struggles with the truth.” (@TXTrendyChick)
“So the Wendy Davis line will be that her rival, the paraplegic, has lived a life of privilege and ease?” (@jimgeraghty)
#WendyDavisStruggles: The Davis campaign tried to fight back, accusing conservative opponents of orchestrating the disclosures and her critics of sexist motives. But her attempt to elicit sympathy with the #WendyDavisStruggles hashtag only fueled the Twitter-storm. As @amylutz4 put it: “#WendyDavisStruggles is the new #FirstWorldProblems.”
“#WendyDavisStruggles with telling the truth” (@LizardStomp)
“#WendyDavisStruggles all the effort she had to put in finding a man to pay for kids and schooling” (@jensan1332)
“#WendyDavisStruggles "Abortions sure are expensive. That's okay! I'll get my husband to pay for it, then I'll divorce him. Easypeasy." (@Cyntroe)
“These aren't even MANOLOS! YOU walk a mile in them." #WendyDavisStruggles (@ChrisBarnhart)
“#WendyDavisStruggles What shade of pink lipstick works best with these shoes?” (@gapo67)
“What is this? Tap water??? GET ME EVIAN!” (@JayCaruso)
“We are NOT drinking any Merlot! #WendyDavisStruggles” (@JayCaruso)
“I said NO whip in my White Chocolate Mocha!! #WendyDavisStruggles” (@dthompson5150)
“#WendyDavisStruggles being late for her Botox appointment because of waiting in line for a mammogram at Planned Parenthood” (@idideat4414505)
“You don't know the pain of going to college while hoping your rich husband got the kids to school on time. #WendyDavisStruggles” (@EEElverhoy)
“Having to kiss babies on the campaign trail.. #WendyDavisStruggles” (@gigg423)
“Is part of #WendyDavisStruggles that her campaign is in free fall from being a liar?” (@garygramscom)
Updated: Jan. 22, 2014

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