POLITICS: Campaigns

Wendy Davis is being judged by a double standard she invited

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Texas,Campaigns,Wendy Davis,Charles Hoskinson,Greg Abbott

Democratic Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis has been crying foul all week since the Dallas Morning News published a story noting inconsistencies in her biography.

In an epic Twitter meltdown, Davis, who's running for governor, blamed the campaign of her Republican opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, for the revelations in the story, even though the veteran political reporter who wrote it insisted he had no contact with Abbott's campaign. She slammed Abbott as "completely out of touch with the struggles that I faced and so many Texans face," and said he "hasn't walked a day in my shoes." Abbott has been in a wheelchair for the past 30 years after losing the ability to walk when a tree fell on him.

Partisan interest groups like Media Matters and media organizations like MSNBC joined in by calling criticism of Davis sexist, conveniently ignoring the legions of women troubled by it.

But Davis really has no one to blame but herself for her troubles.

Davis has made the empathy she gained from her status as a struggling single mother the centerpiece of her campaign. As she tells the story, a mere man just can't understand what millions of Texas women go through to take care of their families.

Except Davis didn't take care of her own family. She left her daughters in the hands of her husband to attend Harvard Law School, divorced him shortly after he paid off her student loan and left him with the kids.

As one anonymous supporter told the Morning News: “Wendy is tremendously ambitious. She’s not going to let family or raising children or anything else get in her way.”

That fact, more than anything else, is what has her campaign on the ropes right now. Combined with Davis' claim to fame as the lawmaker who made a dramatic stand to preserve the "right" to abort babies who would otherwise be viable outside the womb, and many voters are starting to wonder just how caring she really is.

Note that I said "fact." Davis has slammed criticism on that point as sexist and misogynist, but never said it was inaccurate. Because she can't — it's a matter of public record.

Have male politicians turned their backs on their families in pursuit of ambition and still been elected? You bet. One need look no further than Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who bragged in his autobiography about leaving his wife and newborn baby waiting in the car while he attended a political fundraiser on his way home from the delivery room.

That revelation was barely a blip in McAuliffe's path to victory, but Davis' campaign is in crisis mode, with even supportive media organizations wondering if she can survive.

Is that a double standard? Sure. But it's one she invited.

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