Democrats have given up arguing that Wendy Davis is being honest about her history and are now simply demanding we all accept her narrative and her lies simultaneously. In a column suggesting Davis is being “swift-boated” for fabricating parts of her biography, Margaret Carlson in the Chicago Tribune implores readers to be generous with Davis’s biography.
Carlson’s premise is that the central story of Wendy Davis’s ascent is true and that a false detail here or there does not negate that. “Get a detail wrong about whether you divorced at 21 or at 19,” she complains, “and woe unto you.” Carlson goes on to accuse Davis’s political enemies of unfairly turning “the story of the courageous, articulate and inspiring lawyer” into “the tale of a fabulist who can’t be trusted.” She admits that she is “soft on anyone who takes a good story and makes it better” and that Davis’s facts were wrong. Never mind that: “the elements of working her way up from hardscrabble beginnings are as she’s described them.”
Carlson concludes by hitting at the heart of the matter regarding Davis and what those that are not as blinded as Carlson to the importance of the truth see clearly as a disqualification to hold any office. Carlson believes Davis’s narrative, no matter how many falsehoods there are in it. Carlson believes Davis “started out dirt poor and rose through pluck and luck (though that ex-husband is a mixed bag) to make a huge deal of herself.” She takes the bait Democrats set out for her and concludes the column by promoting the single biggest lie of the Davis campaign.
There’s also an odd paragraph in there about how Dawn Zimmer, the mayor of Hoboken who accused Governor Chris Christie of extorting a real estate deal out of her using Hurricane Sandy funding, was also in the news this week. This somehow proves “men get to boast and women are supposed to be modest.” Okay.
The Wendy Davis story isn’t about “get[ting] a detail wrong” or making harmless errors here and there with events that are not relevant to one’s political prowess and that happened long ago. Those who attack her for the details of her multiple divorces or her stance on abortion miss the point.
Wendy Davis’s most dangerous lie is one that goes unspoken and is merely hinted that: that her family is “normal,” like all middle class families, and that she is a down-to-earth, relatable woman worthy of a populist following. The lie is that there is a “normality of it all,” as Vogue put it, in a family football party where you root for the team your friend’s family owns. The lie is that Wendy Davis knows what it’s like to struggle the way millions of Americans struggle every day when she has been a member of Texas’s highest of high society since the age of 25.
The story continues to unravel from that basic lie. There isn’t even evidence that Davis is a staunch Democrat, though her pro-abortion filibuster seemed to convince a nation of progressives. Davis was a Republican for many years, donated to Republican candidates, and dismissed criticism from Democrats by claiming she found it a “compliment” that people could see her complete lack of ideology or convictions. As for the major falsehoods in her biography, Davis’s response has been a simple “damn right it’s a true story.”
Democrats have come a long way from the halcyon days of 2008, when Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers were significantly hit by the revelation that she embellished some facts about her 1990s trip to the Balkans.
Back then, Barack Obama built a David-vs.-Goliath campaign fueled by young people who grew up in the Lewinski era, watching the Clintons lie through their teeth for most of a decade, sickened by the old-school nature of the Democrats. They were sold the belief that the Republicans were no better, that Bush had “lied” about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq – Wikileaks documents have since shown the belief to have been reasonable – and created an unwinnable and unceasing war in the Middle East to line his pockets. Bush received no mercy; neither did Clinton, and Barack Obama became the next president – the one to decide the nature of this new generation of Democrats.
Barack Obama broke a promise on Day One – Guantánamo Bay is still open, and it has been many moons since January 20, 2009. That’s only the beginning of the litany of disappointments for liberals and conservatives alike that have come from this administration: the president’s admission to having used marijuana and claim that it is less dangerous than alcohol coupled with the administration’s arresting more individuals for possession than his predecessor; promising support for illegal immigrants but, once again, arresting more than Bush; the horror show that is the international drone strike program in the eyes of liberals; Benghazi; “If you like your plan, you can keep it.“
After eight years of this, what does it matter whether Wendy Davis got divorced at 19 or 21?
It is a matter of relative deprivation, and it threatens to engulf the entire Democratic Party if it hasn’t already. The standards have been torn asunder in a party already ravaged by dishonesty to the point that Carlson sincerely uses “truthiness” as an excuse. Conservatives have rejected this attitude towards our elected officials in droves, but such a forgiving disposition – one that President Bush and dozens of Republicans never experienced – could lead someone like Davis to be the chief executive of her state. Such tolerance for dishonesty has no place in a trustworthy political system, nor does someone who has abused it as much as Davis has.