Politics & Policy

Wendy Davis’s Defenders

Her liberal supporters see criticism of her fibs as motivated by sexism.

Following revelations that Wendy Davis fudged some of the details of her personal background and life story — a centerpiece of her long-shot gubernatorial campaign — the Left is rallying to her defense.

Predictably, rather than address the actual discrepancies in Davis’s “rags to riches” narrative, her liberal supporters have devoted most of their energy to blasting her critics as sexist foot-soldiers in the Republican party’s “war on women.”

At MSNBC, a network that recently ousted one of its hosts for suggesting someone ought to defecate in a woman’s mouth, Zachary Roth reported that conservatives had “pounced” on the Dallas Morning News report about Davis’s fibs for sinister reasons.

Roth explains that, in the mind of conservatives, Davis is at fault not for “playing fast and loose with her biography,” but for “making life choices they disagree with — including the decision, as a mother, to prioritize her career.” And just in case you didn’t grasp what he was getting at, Roth adds: “It’s hard to imagine those choices generating criticism were Wendy Davis a man.”

A ThinkProgress blogger charged that the attacks on Davis were drawn from a “classic sexist playbook,” and seemed to find hidden malice in Morning News reporter Wayne Slater’s innocuous statement that, owing to the admitted discrepancies in Davis’s personal narrative, “Some will question how much of her success was her own doing, and how bad her circumstances were to start.” The left-wing blogger argues that such questions are clearly absurd, citing as evidence the fact that Davis herself insists that such questions are, in fact, “absurd.”

The New Republic asks: What’s the big deal? “The most paradigmatic political narratives — from Marco Rubio’s to Barack Obama’s — are almost always achieved with a touch of creative license,” wrote Nora Caplan-Bricker. Of course, “it’s worth asking why Davis felt compelled to play up her trailer park origins,” but certainly not worth “dwelling on this point.”

Feminist writers such as Jessica Valenti went after the Morning News for “trying to paint Wendy Davis a bad mother & gold-digger,” and presumably for quoting Davis’s second husband, Jeff Davis, who noted that their relationship ended almost immediately after he made the final payment on her Harvard Law School loan. “It was ironic,” he said. “I made the last payment, and it was the next day she left.” “Give me a [f***ing] break,” Valenti rebutted. She later wrote that she “look[s] forward to the day a male politician is criticized for having a spouse that supported his career.”

Amanda Marcotte and others claimed that the real “scandal” in the eyes of Davis’s critics was the fact that her ex-husband had generously supported her career, just “as wives have done since time immemorial.” Liberal blogger Sarah Jones informed us that criticism of Davis was a reminder of how “conservatives view working women with contempt.” To conservatives, “if [a] woman dares to rely on [her husband’s] money, she is a very bad person who is stealing from man [sic],” Jones explained.

Jones ends on a note that pretty much sums up the liberal reaction to criticism about Davis and her “fuzzy facts”:

For Ms. Davis’ part, she has vowed to be more precise in her language, which is as it should be. But forgive me if I am more appalled by the vicious attacks from a party that pretends it’s Pro life and then removes social safety nets from single parents and demonizes single mothers and women in general, leaving vulnerable children to starve.

Sure, she may have lied. But Republicans want to murder your kids.

— Andrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online.

Andrew StilesAndrew Stiles is a political reporter for National Review Online. He previously worked at the Washington Free Beacon, and was an intern at The Hill newspaper. Stiles is a 2009 ...


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