Wendy Davis's non-campaign

It is wholly comprehensible that pragmatic Democratic activists do not wish to see their candidate torpedoed by an issue that is, in truth, of little practical consequence. Indeed, if supporters were not elevating the sentiment “I want Wendy to Win” above the minutiae of Texas’s gun politics, one might start to wonder what was wrong with them. And yet the shift is symptomatic of a general malleability that is becoming a liability. There is, after all, a point at which smartly avoiding controversy becomes counterproductive — nihilistic, even — and at which it indicates one’s having forgotten why one wanted power in the first place. Davis, alas, is beginning to flirt with that line, prompting the unavoidable question of what, precisely, she is offering that will recommend her to the public at large.

At the outset, the answer to this question was that Davis is running to publicize the alleged restrictions on abortion in her state, and to repeal the law that she spent eleven hours attempting to filibuster last summer. Is it any longer? Not really, no. Indeed, if one’s knowledge of Davis were sourced solely after her candidacy was announced, one would struggle to know that she is pro-choice at all. Jonah Goldberg correctly noted last week that we have become all-too accustomed to the friends of abortion flatly refusing to talk about their standpoint, and that it is now customary for advocates to fall back on euphemism and indignation. He is right: One could fill an entire library with examples of such obfuscation. Nevertheless, few advocates have gone so far as actually to say in public, “I am pro-life,” as Davis did in January.

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