If you thought the New York Times magazine would do a better job of analyzing Wendy Davis’ political record and not judging her career vs. family choices, think again: Robert Draper’s cover article about Davis for the mag dives even deeper into the gold-digging, social-climbing, negligent-mom persona that the Dallas Morning News had established. And for good measure, it adds further proof of parental malfeasance: Draper reports that Davis had the option to finish law school at SMU to be near her children, but chose not to. My immediate thought was: What man in his right mind would choose SMU over Harvard? And then I remembered: Oh, wait. Davis isn’t a man.

Draper takes the odd tack that Davis’ standard bootstraps campaign bio has doomed the media to dig forever through the trash cans of the mobile home park where she once lived. He implies this fixation is the fault of her top advisor J. D. Angle (husband of city councilman Joel Burns) for nudging her to play nice at the start of the campaign. And maybe Angle should’ve helped craft a bolder message to reintroduce his candidate to voters. (Many of them first met her, remember, as the abortion rights filibusterer.) Draper suggests he, the reporter, would like to see Davis be more aggressive on the trail –– as other have wished –– but not, presumably, in the career-minded, selfish-mommy way that his story spends a large amount of time tsk-tsking.

He ends the piece by lamenting that her early campaign could’ve focused on her role in abetting business and real estate developments in Fort Worth, but instead chose to sell her as a “supermom.” Except the campaign bio didn’t sell her as a supermom, but as a person who (accurately or not) made sacrifices and compromises along the way. Look, I don’t know whether Davis would make a good Texas governor or not, but Draper’s NYT piece proves one thing: Once a national media narrative begins about a politician, it’s awfully hard to overcome. Even, perhaps especially, with facts.

Texas Blossoms 300x250 A

Follow my twittering on @FowlerJimmy


  1. The voters, with the exception of the (very tiresome) far right social conservative nut jobs who are self destructively entrenched with the abortion issue to the exclusion/detriment of any other significant relevant problem, are simply not excited about (Dr. Strangelove) Abbott. Abbott’s initial state wide launch was met with cold shouldered ennui and (even) some hostility, hence-unless it is to play the “victim”, Abbott has been out of the public eye. He is also a fairly clueless and moribund speaker,doesn’t think well spontaneously in debate (I was going to say-doesn’t think well “on his feet” –but I know that the”Tiny Tim victim patrol” would have a field day with that one) .He may be the most overrated candidate since Perry ran for the Republican presidential nomination. I really think that Ms. Davis will do better than expected…

  2. Wendy demonstrates a flexibility on issues, and the ability to evolve positions as the political winds dictate.

    I have no doubt she’ll shoot a coyote eventually.

  3. Since we are in her “hometown”, she would have done well to do something over the past four years to clean up the cesspool which is FWISD. Promises will not do at this point. Want votes? Ask as our State Senator for the U.S. Attorney to investigate Judy Needham and her henchmen as they did in El Paso ISD. That would actually demonstrate action not talk.

  4. I am a life long Democrate. I bought into her “hook line and sinker”. She’s told so many lies about her life when do you know she’s telling the truth.

    I can no longer support Ms. Davis. I will not be voting for either candidate. I think we should all vote: none of the above.

    • Well technically I have pretty much voted Republican but I really want to hear what Wendy Davis has to say, policy wise.. The lifetime politicians in Austin have done little in the past two decades to earn my vote, especially given the antics in the last legislative session. I really do not care if she left her kids in the care of her husband to go to Harvard or that she got divorced at 19 or 21. In my way of thinking, the husband agreed to all of this (they dated for TWO years before marriage). NOW he’s complaining about it? Give me a break!!! The kids came out in support of their mom recently. I doubt that many of us could withstand this kind of microscopic personal life scrutiny. I’m willing to at least give her a chance.

  5. I don’t think we were reading the same story, Mr. Fowler. The story was about the campaign strategy Ms. Davis has chosen through the years (in her many races prior plus this gov. race), emphasizing her background (single mother, trailer park to Harvard, etc.) rather than what she did on FW City Council and in the Texas Senate. The writer points out that such a strategy is to attract independent suburban women, but it does have risks. The writer wasn’t judging her “career vs family choices” as you put it, he was pointing out that the campaign was making her personal history a touch tone to her campaign and how that is always risky, regardless of gender. So when you read this piece, don’t get lost on what you wish it were from your personal perspective. This was an analysis of Wendy Davis’ campaign strategy, nothing more. The media wouldn’t research Wendy Davis’ personal story unless she and her advisers had decided to put that front and center in her campaign. And that is where the risk comes into play.

  6. Fowler, you completely misunderstand the importance of Draper’s new factoid about Senator Davis electing to spend her third year of law school in Cambridge, MA, rather than back home in DFW. If Senator Davis had spent her third year as a visiting student at SMU Law, her JD would still have been from Harvard Law (i.e., the law school where she spent 2/3 of her legal education, including the all-important first year). Spending your third year as a visiting student at different law school is a very common practice among law students, because law students are adults who sometimes have solid familial or professional reason (such as a spouse’s job) to be in a city other than the one where they spent the first two years of law school. I know tons of lawyers—both male and female—who did this, typically for far less compelling reasons than would have seemingly motivated Senator Davis to finish her Harvard JD at SMU. Senator Davis elected not to exercise the SMU option because, in her own words, “I learned as much from my fellow students and from class discussions as from my professors. These are brilliant people. I’m not saying there aren’t brilliant people at S.M.U. — I’m sure there are. But I really wanted to finish my experience in this extraordinary academic setting that I’d been in. It was the reason I wanted to go there. I didn’t just want to go to have a diploma that said Harvard Law on it.” I am not saying that Senator Davis made the right choice or the wrong choice in electing not to accept visiting student status at SMU, but—and I say this as a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law—that quote makes her sound like the very worst sort of Ivy League snob. That she was elected to spend her third year in the coffee shops and pubs around Harvard Yard rather than driving I-30 from her family home in Fort Worth to SMU will certainly not play well with a segment of Texas voters. Believe it or not, a few of us actually turned down the Ivy League to stay close to our families.

    • So…if Ms. Davis, (having a middle class upbringing) wanted to take full advantage of a “one in a lifetime educational experience” and graduate with people she liked admired and who had similar career and intellectual aspirations, (and then come back to Texas) she was an Ivy League SNOB? Do you have the same observations of men or is your analysis strictly limited to women,because frankly, that seems just a little bit condescending.