Let’s face it — Wendy Davis has as much chance of winning the gubernatorial election in Texas as Richard Sherman has as a candidate for Ambassador to Canada. Greg Abbott is outraising her on the campaign trail, and will likely outpace her on the hustings as well, and is considered a large favorite for a big win in November, despite Davis’ supposedly compelling biography. And as for that, it turns out to be less compelling than advertised anyway:
While her state Senate filibuster last year captured national attention, it is her biography — a divorced teenage mother living in a trailer who earned her way to Harvard and political achievement — that her team is using to attract voters and boost fundraising.
The basic elements of the narrative are true, but the full story of Davis’ life is more complicated, as often happens when public figures aim to define themselves. In the shorthand version that has developed, some facts have been blurred.
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.
Joel Pollak has more at Breitbart:
Wendy Davis, the Texas state senator whose filibuster for abortion rights made her a Democratic superstar and launched her campaign for governor, has admitted to the Dallas Morning News that she lied about key events in her life, including her first divorce. Davis may even have lied under oath, testifying in a federal lawsuit over redistricting that “I got divorced by the time I was 19 years old,” when in fact she was divorced at age 21.
Other missing details have included: her second husband paid her way through law school and she divorced him the day after the last payment was made; her ex-husband accused her in initial court filings of adultery, and was awarded custody of their two daughters; and she first ran for city council in Fort Worth as a Republican.
“My language should be tighter,” she said, admitting her campaign biography has been less than truthful.
Thomas Lifson (among others) wonders if “perjury is in play”:
Davis has portrayed herself as a 19 year old single mother, following her divorce, but in fact, she was 21 years old at the time of the divorce. She testified under oath in a federal lawsuit to being 19, though, so perjury may be in play. But okay, perjury aside, shading two years off and making herself a minor is not that significant, buut it is an indication that she plays fast and loose with the data in order to make her situation look more pathetic and desperate. Not a good sign, and not the most important lie. It is the lies by omission that are most important.
No, perjury won’t be in play, at least not from a legal standpoint. For a prosecutor to sustain a perjury count, the lie under oath has to be purposeful and material to the matter at hand. Many people get forgetful about their age relative to events in their lives; I was just having this same problem discussing with friends about when I received a radiation treatment for Grave’s disease, which was a relatively significant event in my life. (I was off by five years, not two.) Furthermore, it wasn’t material to the matter at hand — the redistricting plan in Texas — and was offered as background for her testimony to describe her life as a young, single mother. Legally, Davis has nothing to worry about.
Politically, it might be another matter. She’s trying to market herself as a crusading truth-teller for women’s rights in a benighted state. It doesn’t help when your autobiography turns out to be as fact-challenged as Davis’ for that sales pitch. Her divorce from her second husband as he paid off her Harvard bill doesn’t look too meritorious, either, even if he’s still supportive of her as a person and candidate. Instead of being a crusading truth-teller, Davis looks a lot more like an untrustworthy opportunist … like many politicians.
Besides, Davis’ entire platform rests on the claim that abortion doesn’t kill human lives, an assertion rebutted by elementary biology and in opposition to science. Regardless of how one feels about the sanctity of human life, there’s simply no getting around the monstrous lie of abortion. That’s the most important lie of the Davis campaign, and the one that corrodes everything else it touches.
Update: Emily Zanotti’s take on the Davis biography adjustments had me laughing:
By “some facts,” the Dallas Morning News actually means, “basically everything.” The bones of the story are still intact, but when considering how to portray them to the media, Wendy glosses over some important details. A few highlights:
- Wendy was actually 21, not 19, when she got a divorce from her first husband and had to move back into her parent’s trailer park home, where she lived only a few months before finding an apartment of her own for herself and her daughter. Now that might not seem like a big deal, but Wendy testified under oath, in a federal lawsuit regarding redistricting, that she was 19 when she got divorced. She’s lucky that wasn’t material to the case at hand, but she might want to think twice about volunteering incorrect information after she’s sworn to uphold the truth.
- Jeff Davis, Wendy’s second husband, paid her way through Texas Christian University and then through Harvard Law School and cared for her first daughter and a second daughter they had shortly after they were married. He took out loans and cashed in his 401(K) to pay her way through school. They divorced in 2005, literally the day after Jeff Davis wrote his final check paying off her student loan:
Jeff Davis said that was right around the time the final payment on their Harvard Law School loan was due. “It was ironic,” he said. “I made the last payment, and it was the next day she left.
- When she and Davis got a divorce (the court documents cite adultery on Wendy’s part but the final divorce decree makes no mention of any infidelity), she handed full custody of their daughter to her now ex-husband, stating that he was a “nurturing father” and that it was just “not a good time” for her. Because when you have shared children, the very first thing you think about when deciding on their future, is whether they fit in to your busy schedule. A future colleague would put Wendy’s priorities in perspective to the DMN:
“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.”
Basically, every country music song that’s ever come out of Texas was written about Wendy Davis.
All that’s missing is a truck and a dog, I guess.
Update: Emily responds:
.@EdMorrissey There is a truck! She claims she spend most of her college years driving an old Toyota pickup! Still needs the dog, though.
— Emily Zanotti (@emzanotti) January 20, 2014
A Toyota? In a country song in Texas? Not hardly:
@emzanotti A Toyota? That doesn't qualify as a "truck" in country songs, especially in Texas. It's an open-air back-end sedan.
— Ed Morrissey (@EdMorrissey) January 20, 2014