01.22.2014 1

The Wendy Davis story(s): Character or caricature

Wendy_DavisBy Rick Manning

You may not have heard about Texas State Senator Wendy Davis and if you have, it is likely that what you know is, at best, a carefully crafted narrative of her life story.

Davis became a national celebrity in liberal circles due to her ultimately unsuccessful filibuster of state legislation to make abortion procedures safer.  In the wake of her long talk, she has enjoyed a meteoric rise in profile even garnering a profile in Vogue befitting the latest Hollywood celebrity.  Not exactly the kind of mainstream media treatment that another Texan received when he recently wielded the filibuster tool.

So who is this Wendy Davis, the woman who the left is holding up as their hope for turning Texas blue?

Is she the woman who raised herself from single mother trailer dweller to a Harvard Law School grad, or is she a very intelligent woman who used her looks and wiles to find a man who would work and pay to help make her ambitions come true?

The answer is yes, and that is what is so complicated about this purported heroine’s meteoric rise.

She did get pregnant as a teen, having a child and living in a trailer for less than two months.  She also found an older man to marry, who paid for her college education.  Like a Lifetime channel movie where the male doctor gets rid of his wife who worked and sacrificed to pay his way through medical school,  Davis dumped her second husband the day after he made her last payment for her Harvard Law School bills.  In true B-movie fashion, the husband also has full custody of the children, as Davis pursues her political career.

The reason the Davis story matters nationally is that it serves as an example of how the national media can tell one narrative about someone’s life that looks really great from afar, but when you look at some of the basic details, that story crumbles.  In the case of Davis, she is the Democrats great blonde hope to put a dagger in the political hearts of both limited government advocates and social conservatives nationally by taking Texas.  They are all in on making Wendy Davis a superstar, and will be desperately using as much concealer as they can find to hide the choices she has made and what they mean from the public.

This is, unfortunately, politics in 21st century America – a dishonest reality television show.

Demagogues’ of the left rise up with a personal story that gets magnified by a Hollywood-like star making machine, and the fictional narrative becomes reality.  Later any attempt to shine a light on the real person behind the elevator pitch is decried and dismissed as a negative attack.  The public for their part has already decided whether they like or dislike the individual based upon the carefully constructed character they have been presented.

As America heads to another election cycle in 2014, candidate after candidate will ask for our votes.  They will provide their story of why they should be hired for office.  And some will, like Davis, choose to provide snapshots of their life that are true, but also paint an inaccurate portrait of who they are.

The mainstream media star making machine will be out in force attempting to sway voters using all the tools at their disposal.  This is not new, but it doesn’t have to work.

The Dallas Morning News’ outstanding reporting (from which many of the facts about Davis’ life in this story were garnered) proves that the media is capable of doing the job of examining candidates more closely.  But it is also each American’s responsibility to ask questions of the candidates themselves about who they are.

As we move forward, American politics has to return to being more about the character of our elected officials rather than the Hollywood caricatures created by handlers designed to sell their latest American Idol-like candidate to an ever increasing disengaged public.

The Dallas Morning News expose of Wendy Davis’ real background serves as a good first step toward making this important leap.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications at Americans for Limited Government

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