From the first Morning Jolt of the week:
The Airbrushed, Polished, Rewritten History of Wendy Davis
Nobody can seek office as they are, huh? Everybody’s got to be born in a log cabin, and have worked himself up from nothing. Choom gangs, William Ayers, and Tony Rezko get airbrushed from history; ineffective years of community organizing are rewritten into a dedication to the poor that rivals St. Francis of Assisi. Al Gore couldn’t be just another senator; he had to invent the Internet. Wartime service isn’t enough; “If you have any question about what John Kerry is made of, just spend 3 minutes with the men who served with him.” John Edwards is Father of the Year. “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”
Throw Wendy Davis onto the pile, as the Dallas Morning News took a closer look at her life story and found some details not quite matching her tales:
Davis was 21, not 19, when she was divorced. She lived only a few months in the family mobile home while separated from her husband before moving into an apartment with her daughter.
A single mother working two jobs, she met Jeff Davis, a lawyer 13 years older than her, married him and had a second daughter. He paid for her last two years at Texas Christian University and her time at Harvard Law School, and kept their two daughters while she was in Boston. When they divorced in 2005, he was granted parental custody, and the girls stayed with him. Wendy Davis was directed to pay child support.
In an extensive interview last week, Davis acknowledged some chronological errors and incomplete details in what she and her aides have said about her life.
“My language should be tighter,” she said. “I’m learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail.” . . .
A former colleague and political supporter who worked closely with Davis when she was on the council said the body’s work was very time-consuming.
“Wendy is tremendously ambitious,” he said, speaking only on condition of anonymity in order to give what he called an honest assessment. “She’s not going to let family or raising children or anything else get in her way.”
He said: “She’s going to find a way, and she’s going to figure out a way to spin herself in a way that grabs at the heart strings. A lot of it isn’t true about her, but that’s just us who knew her. But she’d be a good governor.”
A good governor . . . once you get past the pathological lying!
Andrew Kaczynski points out . . . an inconvenient truth:
Davis did however testify under oath in 2012 that she was 19, when she divorced, not 21. Davis was testifying before a three-judge panel that was was deciding whether the new Texas legislative district map violated the U.S. Voting Rights Act.
She sent a statement to Buzzfeed that at age 19, she was “on her way to a divorce.”
An enormous ego is almost a requirement for running for office, so we shouldn’t be surprised that those who want our votes carry more than their share of self-aggrandizement, conveniently edited memories, and borderline-insane belief in their own personal heroic narratives. The thing is, we don’t really need any larger-than-life heroes in public office. Governors, senators, congressmen, presidents . . . they’re temp workers. The more grandiose the ambitions get, the larger the scale of potential failure gets. Sometimes the idea is to fundamentally transform the culture and politics of the Middle East. Sometimes the idea is “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” It’s tough to get people to stand up and cheer, much less write out checks, for anything less than forever changing life as we know it.
Immanentizing the eschaton requires a messiah figure, which mean every contender for the throne needs to have that pitch-perfect life story. Details be damned.
A frequent lament on the right since the frustrating defeats of 2012 has been, “we need to become better storytellers.” Dare I flip it around and say, the American electorate needs to stop needing all of its information in convenient storybook form? Because the basic facts of, say, the need for entitlement reform don’t necessarily lend themselves well to the convenient plucky-underdog-takes-on-the-system-and-wins Erin Brockovich template that apparently many Americans require to understand.
It is not exactly a surprise that the latest feminist political icon, Texas state Senator Wendy Davis, turns out to be a phony and an exploiter. Davis, you may recall, rocketed to progressive superstardom by conducting an ultimately futile filibuster on a bill tightening health regulations on abortions after 20 weeks of gestation when the life of the mother is not in peril. The fact that Davis is an attractive blond and speaks fairly well in public was enough to gladden the heart of the pro-abortion faction, eager to find a champion who can be packaged as an inspiring profile in courage. She has already raised $12 million for her campaign for governor, tapping into the victimology cult among wealthy feminist women.
Here’s how Tanene Allison, “political consultant and Texan,” characterizes the latest developments in the Huffington Post:
A gang of men in Texas are trying to burn State Sen. Wendy Davis on a proverbial stake. Almost as soon as the Davis campaign announced that, over the final six months of 2013, they had raised more money that her opponent, the knives came out. As Texans are beginning to unite around Wendy, Greg Abbott and his out-of-touch operatives are scared and relying on the oldest playbook in the world: Tear the woman apart by examining her personal life and saying she isn’t perfect enough.
That “gang of men in Texas” she’s sneering at is the reporting staff and editors of the Dallas Morning News. The falsehoods are not in dispute; Davis admits to the newspaper that she’s been saying things that aren’t true. Had the newspaper run the headline, “She isn’t perfect enough,” it would be a laughingstock.
The allegedly nonpartisan mainstream media seems to think well of the Huffington Post, and when you see something like the above, it’s really hard to understand why. This isn’t merely a passionate defense of Davis; this is an attack on the newspaper as somehow being sexist and malicious.