EDITORIAL: A ‘log cabin’ of gossamer

Wendy Davis’ rags-to-riches tale unravels in Texas

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Obscurity is sometimes the place to find blind ambition. That’s where Texas liberals found their latest great Democratic hope. Wendy Davis, a state senator of no particular distinction, captured the liberal imagination with a dramatic 11-hour filibuster last year in an attempt to preserve late-term abortions. Mrs. Davis didn’t succeed in blocking the restrictions, but her feminist fan club grew so rapidly that she decided to make a long-shot bid for the governor’s mansion. In Texas, everybody thinks big.

Mrs. Davis has raised nearly $10 million, enough to get her started. Most of her appeal is rooted in her life story, as a single mother who picked herself up by her shoe-straps in a mobile home and paid her way through college and Harvard Law School. The Dallas Morning News found her tale of grit and determination a little too syrupy to be true, and the yarn unraveled.

“I had a baby,” she testified under oath in a recent lawsuit. “I got divorced by the time I was 19 years old. After I got divorced, I lived in a mobile-home park in southeast Fort Worth.” It’s not perjury to be off the calendar by a few years, but for the record, she was divorced at 21 and lived in a trailer for only three months.

Jeff Davis, her second husband, paid for her final two years of college and even covered her law school tuition. She dumped him as soon as her education was paid for. “I made the last payment,” Mr. Davis told the newspaper, “and it was the next day that she left.” Mr. Davis took care of the children, and the court granted him custody after Mrs. Davis filed for divorce.

She brushes off the inconsistencies with the explanation that she was only speaking loosely. In a campaign statement, she scolded her likely opponent in the general election, state Attorney General Greg Abbott, for criticizing her life-story embellishments. He just didn’t understand the struggles she has faced, she said, because he has never “walked a day in my shoes.” She was right about that much. Mr. Abbott cannot walk, having been in a wheelchair for 30 years.

The insensitive remark was no mere slip of the tongue. James O’Keefe, the intrepid videographer, caught members of the Texas Democratic campaign-support group, Battleground Texas, describing the deliberate origins of the Davis campaign slogans. “Since he’s in a wheelchair,” one operative explains on videotape, “and most [of our] slogans are ‘Stand with Wendy‘ and ‘Stand with Texas Women,’ isn’t that amazing to think of? He’s in a wheelchair, and we want to stand with Wendy?” Pretty amazing.

The log cabin built with their own hands has been a staple of American politicians since William Henry Harrison was elected president in 1840, taking the log cabin and a jug of hard cider as his campaign icons. It’s hard to credit Mrs. Davis‘ accomplishments when her “cabin” is made of gossamer, and the cider to make the story go down is merely gall.

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