Wendy Davis and Elizabeth Warren are feminist heroines, which indicates feminists these days don’t expect much from their heroines.
Ms. Davis, a state senator in Texas, has parlayed the attention the national news media lavished upon her 11-hour filibuster against a bill to forbid abortions after 20 weeks into a campaign for governor.
She could give Democrats “real people credibility,” based on “her own personal story — an absent father, a sixth-grade-educated mother, a teen pregnancy followed by life as a single mom in a mobile home, then community college and, at last, Harvard Law School,” gushed Time magazine.
“The Today Show accompanied her back to the mobile home as if it were taking Abraham Lincoln back to the log cabin where he was raised,” said Rich Lowry of National Review.
Unlike Time and NBC, Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News checked out the claims Ms. Davis made in her campaign biography. He found a few discrepancies.
Wendy was 21, not 19, when she got a divorce from her first husband. For a while, she continued to live in a trailer park home they had shared, and eventually she got her own apartment.
With help from her second husband, Jeff Davis, financial aid and scholarships, she was able to get through Texas Christian University and Harvard law school.
The daughters, then 8 and 2, remained in Fort Worth with Jeff while Wendy was at Harvard, according to the newspaper.
Wendy divorced Jeff on, literally, the day after he wrote the final check paying off her student loan. He was granted parental custody of the girls, and they stayed with him, the newspaper said.
“Wendy is tremendously ambitious,” a friend, speaking anonymously, told Mr. Slater. “She’s not going to let family or raising children or anything else get in her way.”
“Uh-oh, suddenly, this isn’t turning into the kind of story we want to tell our children,” said Dallas Morning News editorial writer Tod Robberson, who had hoped “Texas finally had a viable Democratic candidate.”
The story was an “unfair personal attack” that was planted with Mr. Slater by the GOP gubernatorial candidate, Attorney General Greg Abbott, Ms. Davis charged.
“These attacks show that Greg Abbott’s completely out of touch with the struggles that I faced and so many Texans face,” she said. “I am proud of where I came from and I am proud of what I’ve been able to achieve through hard work and perseverance. And I guarantee you that anyone who tries to say otherwise hasn’t walked a day in my shoes.”
The attack proves Mr. Abbott is “running scared,” her campaign said.
Mr. Slater has been a frequent guest on MSNBC, where he mocked Texas Republicans. A “tell” of his political leanings is his description of Ms. Davis’ remarkable reinvention of her life story as “blurred facts.”
In researching the story, “I talked to no — zero — Abbott people,” Mr. Slater said.
But Wendy was absolutely right when she said Mr. Abbott “hasn’t walked a day in my shoes.” He’s a paraplegic who’s been in a wheelchair for 29 years.
That was “a gaffe for the ages,” said University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse.
Before her election to the Senate from Massachusetts in 2012, Elizabeth Warren was famous mostly for obtaining appointments to prestigious law school faculties by claiming, falsely, she was part Cherokee.
Rutgers University Law Professor Philip Shuchman accused Ms. Warren and two co-authors of “repeated instances of scientific misconduct” in a 1989 book that claimed — falsely — that medical bills are the cause of most personal bankruptcies.
This suggests to me that affirmative action for professors isn’t a good idea. If it is, “Fauxcahontas” kept a real Native American from getting the slots at Penn and Harvard.
Ms. Warren had the good fortune (or the presence of mind) to seek office in Massachusetts, where customarily Democrats win.
Aside from embellishing her life story, Ms. Davis is known best for her fervent support for abortion. But the bill she filibustered ultimately passed the state senate, 19-11, the state house, 98-49. In a poll in June, 62 percent of Texans supported a ban on abortions after 20 weeks.
And in Texas, it takes more to be a feminist heroine than to go through Harvard law on a man’s dime while he takes care of the kids.
Wendy Davis is Texas toast. She should move to Massachusetts.
Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Press and the Blade of Toledo, Ohio.