Look, the Wendy Davis candidacy for Texas governor isn’t going anywhere. (Ain’t goin’ nowhere, Bubba, as we might say in Texas.) What’s with the New York Times Magazine cover story on Feb. 16 – Wendy looking sleepily seductive, blonde tresses streaming down to her shoulders; the headline inquiring in pseudo-provocative fashion, “Can Wendy Davis Have It All?”
No, she can’t. The likely Republican nominee for governor, Attorney General Greg Abbott, is exceedingly likely to mow her down, for reasons having nothing to do with that which feminists call gender and most people call sex. Thirty years ago, Texans, for all their rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ image, were properly reckoned among the greatest enthusiasts in the world for the leadership attributes of Margaret Thatcher. Were Wendy Davis, Democratic state senator and instant celeb on account of her filibuster against an abortion bill, to evoke the slightest resemblance to Maggie, she might have a fighting chance. No way, despite her recent embrace of legislation that would allow handguns to be carried openly. (As if the essence of responsible conservatism consisted in giving flesh to the peculiar idea of turning the streets into the O.K. Corral.)
Of course if Wendy were conservative, she’d be a Republican rather than the tough, self-assured have-it-all mom (Harvard Law degree, two daughters, divorce, a romantic relationship with a former Austin mayor) who supposedly inspires Democratic womanhood. And Eastern journalists.
In truth, the Times’ "have-it-all" headline turned off many as sexist. On the other hand, Wendy has propelled herself to national notice by telling a have-it-all story with some large holes. Seems, according to a Dallas Morning News story by Wayne Slater, that she bent in her own favor a few significant details, such as the length of her pre-Harvard stay in a trailer park and her devotion to husband and daughters back home while studying at Harvard. It turns out that the husband she divorced– the second one – had paid her way through Harvard and that she came home to Texas less often (once a month, the ex-husband said) than she had made known. The Times article wasn’t unfriendly to her. “Davis had succeeded on two levels – as a professional and as a mother of two adult daughters who seem to love and admire her – but getting to this point was probably not as simple as her campaign made it sound.”
Too bad, because her look-at-everything-I’ve-done narrative is about all that Wendy Davis has going for her as a candidate. She’s asking for the right to govern a state that hasn’t elected a single Democrat to statewide office in two decades. She got famous for opposing, and temporarily killing, a bill banning abortions at 20 weeks – a bill she now says she might have supported had it allowed more latitude for women and their doctors. She’s for medical marijuana and letting voters decide on casino gambling. We’ll see in due course what else she’s got besides the admiration of the kind of people who admire Elizabeth Warren and read the New York Times.
William Murchison is a corresponding editor of Chronicles and the author of The Cost of Liberty: The Life of John Dickinson (ISI) and Mortal Follies: Episcopalians and the Crisis of Mainline Christianity. William Murchison, syndicated columnist and longtime commentator on religious, cultural, and political affairs, has contributed to many national publications, including the Wall Street Journal, National Review, The Weekly Standard, and First Things.