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    Wendy Davis Tag

    When Elizabeth Warren's fake Cherokee status broke in late April 2012, Warren's campaign went into panic for several days, issuing statements about Warren's ancestry that proved troublesome when compared to the facts. The entire issue was portrayed as a Scott Brown campaign dirty trick, and the Boston Herald -- the city's not-completely-liberal paper -- was attacked. Warren even entertained questions herself initially, reciting tales of her Aunt Bee and high cheekbones which both were laughable and questionable. Not that long after the Cherokee narrative broke, and endangered her campaign, Warren's campaign found a theme -- don't attack my family, I'm not backing away from my parents -- and stuck to it relentlessly. With a mostly sympathetic press in tow, Warren somewhat successfully reframed the issue away from her demeaning usurpation of Native American identity for employment purposes to why people were attacking her family. Warren also went into media shutdown, refusing to answer any questions except when confronted in unavoidable situations. Even then, Warren robotically stuck to the stript of defending her family. Warren avoided one-on-one interviews with anyone other than sycophants until the day before the Massachusetts Democratic state convention, when the Cherokee narrative threatened to derail Warren's attempt to keep her only Democratic rival, Marisa DeFranco, off the ballot. The convention-eve interviews, where Warren of course stuck to script, were enough to quiet party concerns, and DeFranco was kept off the ballot. I don't know if Warren's false narrative ever would have doomed her campaign, considering it was Massachusetts, but the script and press control worked for electoral purposes. Fast forward to Wendy Davis.

    WOAI 1200 in San Antonio had an article yesterday about Wendy Davis having her daughters defend her mothering, Involvement of Davis Daughters Seen as High Stakes Gambit in Governor's Race. The article quoted an SMU political analyst as indicating bringing the daughters out was a risky move that might work, but that the campaign should have anticipated the issue:
    “Their fundraising numbers went very well, but they seemed to be unprepared by what they should have expected, an assault by the Greg Abbott campaign on the story that Wendy Davis wanted to tell about herself and her rise from difficult circumstances to be a candidate for governor,” Jillson said. “She should have been prepared for this assault and had better answers and responses ready to go.” ... “This is really a new candidate to statewide office being rocked by charges that should have been anticipated,” Jillson said. “It remains to be seen whether she will be taken down by these charges.”
    One of the comments to the article caught my eye, because it made a point similar to what I made in Wendy Davis is the Deja Victim candidate, that the public may react negatively to a candidate who has her children fight her battles for her. Here's part of the comment, with the full comment embedded below:
    Letting her children fight media political battles for her by sending in "don't be mean to my mommy" letters is just weak. She needs to put on her big girl panties, accept the reality of what she has chosen to do, and stop whining about it or she has given up before she even gets started.

    Wendy Davis' core political narrative was one of overcoming victimhood -- an abandoned single teenage mom  who struggled to raise her family in a trailer park and overcame the odds to work her way through college and Harvard Law School, and on to a successful law career, through grit and determination. Only problem was, the narrative was misleading, at best. Davis was a single mom of a single child for only a short time (from ages 21-23), had family to help, only lived in a trailer park for a short transition period, and quickly married a wealthy older man who paid her way way through college and law school and brought her into his business after she graduated. She had another child with that man, Jeff Davis, and he was the primary custodial parent, so much so that when they divorced he was awarded custody of their minor child, and even Wendy's first child from her prior marriage, then in college, chose to live with her step-father.  Jeff Davis was quoted, as to Wendy Davis leaving her 9th grade daughter in his custody:
    “She did the right thing,” he said. “She said, ‘I think you’re right; you’ll make a good, nurturing father. While I’ve been a good mother, it’s not a good time for me right now.’”
    Wendy moved out the day after Jeff paid her last student loan bill. The firestorm of controversy has set Davis back on her heels.

    As have many people, Bristol Palin weighed in on the Wendy Davis narrative, and took issue with what she called the "Made-for-TV-Movie-Type-Tale." When Davis was asked about it, she took the bait (video at bottom of post), generating headlines that must make seasoned political types and progressive Davis supporters in the media cringe, such as: NBC Wendy Davis Bristol Palin Palin was less harsh towards Davis than many have been.  But really, why is Davis responding to any individual's criticism? Those who hate the Palins already are voting for Davis. Bristol Palin is not Wendy Davis' problem, Wendy Davis' narrative is Wendy Davis' problem. Here's the video:

    Melissa Harris-Perry hosted a panel on the question: "Are attacks against Wendy Davis sexist or standard political fare?" Harris-Perry gave a pretty good intro, pointing out that narrative failures are political problems for women and for men. And she did highlight that Wendy Davis' narrative is not quite as portrayed in her campaign. But were the attacks "gendered" if not outright "sexist." Watch the video below. Does it strike you, as it did me, that the panelists could not generate any visible indignation over the supposedly sexist treatment of Davis? They mouthed the words, but seemed a bit shy about it after listening to Harris-Perry's intro about the discrepancies in Davis' narrative. Davis' parenting and maternal commitment were an express part of her narrative -- when that narrative failed, it was not gendered or sexist, it just was what it was. There was no dissent among the panelists. Jonathan Capehart particularly dropped the ball by suggesting that Newt Gingrich is an example of a man leaving his first wife and kids behind who did not pay a price. But in fact, Newt has been excoriated for it and it was a damaging blow to his presidential ambitions, as I explained to Kirsten Powers. This should have been a panel that breathed "sexism" fire. That all they could muster were a few glowing embers of "sexism" tells you something right there. There doesn't appear to be any fire in the belly even at MSNBC to defend Wendy Davis' failed personal narrative. Here's the video, in two parts:

    There is a growing attempt to paint Wendy Davis as the victim of a double standard, in which a woman is treated more harshly than conservative men as to family failings and career ambition. Kirsten Powers articulated that view in her post at The Daily Beast, The Right Subjects Wendy Davis to Litmus Tests No Male Would Ever Face (interestingly, the title shows up in search engines as "Wendy Davis the Piñata Parent," not sure if that was the original title):
    It seems that Wendy Davis needs to learn her place.... It’s fair to criticize Davis for her misleading bio that implied she had been a single mother during law school. Instead, a misogynistic mob is determined to punish her for her parenting choices.... Where were the headlines claiming the unfitness of male Republican candidates who ditched wives with whom they had children (think Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani)? Or are we to understand that conservatives believe that cheating on a spouse and getting divorced is not relevant, but giving your husband full custody of a child is?
    Similarly, Politico Magazine has a lead article playing up the "Wendy as victim of sexism" defense.  In The Most Judged Woman in America, the sub-title tells the story:
    Wendy Davis did make a mistake. She thought that we were ready for a single mother.
    Just Google "Wendy Davis Sexism" and you will see that these two examples above are not exceptions, they are part of a pattern of defending Davis. There is no double standard. Both Newt Gingrich and John McCain were seriously attacked because of their treatment of first wives and kids, as I shared with Powers in a Twitter exchange:

    We have faced the problem of the Big Google Algorithm in the Sky before. Vicious smirkle (Alan Grayson) Vicious Smirkle, Part 2 (Democratic Senate campaign) Michele (Walk) Hansen noted at the time: Well, sure, some people got sick, sadistic enjoyment costing Alan Grayson money, but there was a problem: The more you...

    Naomi Schaefer Riley writing in The NY Post has a brutal assessment of why Wendy Davis has no future in politics. It's a brutal assessment that I think is right, and one that will drive Davis' most ardent supporters crazy because it cannot be wordsmithed or talking-pointed. The problem gets to the deepest emotional level that cuts across the political spectrum:
    After Jeff finished paying off the last of Wendy’s school loans, she filed for divorce and gave up custody of her children. According to Jeff, his wife just decided, “While I’ve been a good mother, it’s not a good time for me right now.”.... There are single mothers all over the country in dire straits who can’t afford to have such a thought. And even if someone offered them the chance to get away from it all and start over without a child, few of them would say yes. Sure, there are women who pursue high-powered careers and need to spend time away from their children. Take Florida Rep. Deborah Wasserman Schultz, who (according to a recent New York Times blog) manages to do plenty with her 9-year-old and 13-year-old twins over the course of a weekend at home. She played basketball with her son, read with her daughter, shuttled one to ballet, took another to the bookstore and out to lunch. Still, when her son complains about her work schedule, she says, “My heart hurts.” Can you imagine Wasserman Schultz saying “it’s not a good time” for her to be a mother? ....

    Just last night Neo mentioned how Wendy Davis, both herself and via a support group (the Lone Star Project), were challenging Greg Abbott's courage. Now James O'Keefe has just released an undercover video of another group supporting Davis, the supposedly unaffiliated voter registration group Battleground Texas, laughing at Abbott being in a wheelchair and wondering how that would play out in the campaign. O'Keefe reports (h/t Gateway Pundit):
    While investigating Obamacare Navigators, Battleground Texas, and their connection to Obama’s Organizing for America, we caught some deeply offensive comments on tape. It seems Battleground Texas and Wendy Davis’ strategy to win the Governor’s seat is to mock Attorney General Abbott’s disability. We caught Davis supporters and Battleground Texas staff on tape making crude statement such as “isn’t that amazing to think of? He’s in a wheelchair and we want to stand with Wendy?” Even more disturbing was an election official who when asked about forging signatures covered her ears and then went on to admit, “People do that all the time.” A Battleground Texas volunteer then added, “I don’t think it’s legal but I didn’t hear you say that.”
    Yes, of course Davis is not responsible for everything every supporter says, but Battleground Texas is a key part of her campaign strategy, part of the Turn Texas Blue project. This video does seems to fit in with the culture surrounding Davis' campaign, brought into the open by her attacks on Abbott after the Dallas Morning News exposed her personal narrative. Updates:

    Ever since the story broke that Wendy Davis -- to be charitable to her -- had embellished her personal narrative, many commenters and people on Twitter with whom I interact have suggested Elizabeth Warren as an analogy. As readers know, I have been a harsh critic of Elizabeth Warren for claiming Native American and Cherokee status for employment purposes without basis as she climbed the ladder to Harvard Law School, and then dumping that status as soon as she got tenure. But not all false narratives are created equally. Elizabeth Warren's false narrative was done quietly, and in a manner designed to juice her employment prospects with few people, outside of those responsible for diversity hiring, knowing about it. Warren was not Native American, and the myth that she was 1/32 Cherokee was created by faulty speculation during her campaign, not when she was growing up. At most, some Native American ancestry was a mere family rumor, the term her adult nephew used when searching the family's genealogy. Warren never lived as a Cherokee, never associated with Cherokees, and never publicly touted herself as Cherokee. Instead, Warren used those family rumors of Native American ancestry to get herself put on the short listing of "Minority Law Teachers" in a law professor directory used in the 1980s as a hiring tool by law school administrators. While a Visiting Professor at Harvard, she also somehow managed to get on a list of Women of Color in Legal Academia, although records are hard to find as to how extensively she touted her supposed Native American status (her hiring records never have been released). While there is strong evidence that Warren tried to use her Native American narrative to advance her career, that narrative was not her career.

    I'm so old, I remember when feminists believed women didn't need a man to be happy or to raise a family, and liberals argued that the American Dream was not restricted to tony subdivisions of McMansions. And then we have the Wendy Davis campaign, which has captured the heart of progressive America by supporting unfettered access to late-term abortions. But along that road to ending viable life, the Wendy Davis campaign picked up on a campaign theme that treats single moms as hopelessly failed.  Davis said it in a tweet yesterday:
    Mine is the story of single mothers who feel alone in the world, searching for their chance to become something more.
    Single moms need a "chance to become something more"? I accept that being a single mom presents significant challenges personally.  And there are important societal implications of single-parent households. But does that leave single-moms "alone in the world" and lacking "something more"? What about their children, and family support? Davis' campaign theme is a pretty snobby look at single moms, even as it claims to fight for them. And what about the folks who live in trailer parks? Are their lives so glum that Wendy Davis having spent a few months in a trailer park (apparently with her parents) was the other defining moment in her life? She even blurred the timeline a bit by suggesting she became a single mom and was relogated to a trailer park life at age 19, when it really was 21, just a couple of years before she met the wealthy, much older Jeff Davis who would pay her way through school and raise her children for her.
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