The Corner

Real People Don’t Talk Like That, Wendy

The worst thing about Texas politics, besides the Sanctimonious White Ladies, is the language. Everybody talks like they’re characters in some dumb Western movie from 1979.  Molly Ivins, a product of California, St. John’s School, and Smith College, spoke with a ridiculously affected hickoid accent found nowhere in the wild. George W. Bush of Kennebunkport, the Kinkaid School, Yale, and Harvard speaks with an accent that supposedly hails from the Midland area, but is entirely alien to my ears, which were educated the next town up. I am fairly steeped in Texas accents: Go back one generation in my family and you’ll have as much luck understanding the men as you would a character from Trainspotting.  

So now we have Wendy Davis of Rhode Island, Mistletoe Heights (median income $72,390), and Harvard, doing her best John Wayne, declaring that her critics have picked a fight with “the wrong Texas gal.” Oh, Wendy: Nobody talks like that in Texas, or anywhere else, except in movies and dumb campaign commercials. I can’t remember the last time I heard anybody under 70 years of age use “gal” un-ironically outside of a country song.

Ms. Davis is upset that her critics have interpreted her willfully misleading statements about her personal life as willfully misleading statements about her personal life, which apparently is a low blow. (Though not so low as inviting your wheelchair-bound opponent to “walk a day in my shoes.” The expression is “walk a mile,” but, whatever.) The usual thing for a cornered rat to do in Texas politics is to try to out-Texan the other guy, since we Texans are insanely chauvinistic, but since Wichita Falls pretty handily trumps Rhode Island, that’s going to be tough to do. Thus, “wrong Texas gal.”

Ms. Davis represents an area that is as well-known for its art museums as for once having been a stop on the Chisholm Trail. Her attempt at what I assume is intended to be authenticity is fairly lame. I wish she — and other Texas politicians — would knock it off. Not everybody in Iowa is a corn farmer, not everybody in New York folds his pizza in half, some people in Philadelphia can pronounce the voiceless dental fricative in “with,” etc. Ms. Davis can’t quite seem to tell whether she’s in a political campaign or auditioning for a bit part in a remake of The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.  

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