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.
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