A couple things still interest me about this “Abortion Barbie” story. As with Elizabeth Warren, Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, and, well, just about everyone else the media shoves down our throats these days, I’m trying to figure out what the appeal is.
And not because they’re generic liberals, mind you. The appeal of generic liberalism, I get. It’s the appeal of these particular individuals, their biographies, their “stories” or “narratives” (if we must use two of the most obnoxious words in political language).
Wendy Davis’s candidacy rests on three pillars:
- She’s a mother
- She’s a lawyer
- She likes abortion
If there’s anything else to it, I haven’t seen it. And since this is straight from the mouths of her supporters, you have to assume this is all they’ve got.
It’s easy (and fun!) to point out the contradiction between 1) and 3) — if she’d been abortion’s BFF back when, she wouldn’t be a Heroic Single Mother now, and nobody would know she exists. I think this was the main complaint of the maybe five conservatives who paid attention back before her lies were exposed. Here we have a woman being praised to the stars by liberals for a decision that, in any other context, would cause those same liberals to deride her as a fool and a sellout.
But hey, if they could grasp the obvious they wouldn’t be liberals. What’s interesting to me is the support she’s still getting in lots of quarters. Wendy Davis is a standard-issue grandstanding narcissist; that it manifested as a run for office from the left rather than the right is for all intents and purposes accidental. It’s her supporters I find baffling, and the peculiar blindness of their faith.
Now, I don’t doubt that “Pro-Life Barbie” would have her cadre of fanatic supporters too, for whom The Cause overrides any and all personal failings of the candidate. But “Pro-Life Barbie” would never be able to hang on as long as Wendy Davis has. “Pro-Life Barbie” would be hounded into obscurity by the media before she could contemplate running for municipal dog catcher, let alone governor of Texas. But since the media constantly enables liberal fantasists, let’s take the wonderful opportunity they’ve provided to armchair psychologize a subset of them.
Here’s the Washington Post (via Ace of Spades) arguing that her lies damage her national image:
What Davis then needs most of all is not to win – although that would be nice for her and her supporters – but rather to be seen as having run a creditable campaign that continues to elevate her star status. Allegations like these about her résumé, if they persist and/or lead to other problems with the campaign, are perilous to that perception.
It goes without saying that the DNC plans to parachute her in, Hillary!-style, to whatever blue-leaning district they think they can capture an election cycle or two down the road, because that’s how federalism works in Weimar America. At worst, she could hang around as a Sarah Palin-like figure, reminding the base of what an unsung hero that Kermit Gosnell fellow is.
These supporters are the easiest to understand. In a real republic, even a fringe party wouldn’t have an accomplishment-free nobody like Wendy Davis on their bench, let alone as some kind of ringer…. but that’s America for you. The DNC and the WaPo (if there’s a difference) understand this; they want to protect the brand. Their support is entirely tactical.
There are others, though, who don’t see Wendy Davis as an accomplishment-free nobody. These are the scary ones, and if we want to get America back on track, they’re the ones we have to understand.
I see a few subgroups here. Morgan has been on for years about the fetishization of non-accomplishment, and he’s got a far better handle on it than I do. How and why people reason from “she’s done absolutely nothing” to “she’s super-competent at everything” beats my pair of jacks, as it does his, and Jonah Goldberg’s, and a lot of other people’s. Now, I think (and I think they think) some of these people are just DNC-style tacticians — Hillary! is our best chance to retain the White House, so let’s all pretend that feckless dithering and bungling are accomplishments. As Goldberg notes, you can’t prove that her tireless efforts in Myanmar didn’t stop the Burmese juggernaut from overrunning the globe, so let’s go with that. It’s a horrible precedent that will inevitably come back to haunt us, but hey, if they could grasp long-term consequences they wouldn’t be liberals, right?
There’s another group, though, to whom Hillary!, Obama, Wendy Davis, and the rest really are aspirational figures. Note the fetishistic phrase “single mom.” It’s been a while since I’ve hit the singles scene, but in my youth I dabbled with online dating and I noticed a curious thing — while lots of women with children had profiles, only some of them described themselves as “single moms.” Those were the ones to avoid at all costs. Dates with them was narcissism on parade. Marriage is hard work, parenthood is exponentially harder, and both of them require constant effort to understand the perspectives of two or more very different people. Those who proudly claimed the “single mom” badge, in my experience, rejected all that. They seemed to regard their kids as trophies, adornments to their careers. The babydaddy — ol’ whatzisface — was invariably the source of gossip or exasperation, if he was mentioned at all. Lots of times he didn’t even get the dignity of a name.
Wendy Davis, then, is someone who did single momhood right. She got a sugar daddy to launch her in her career, which she then pursued to the exclusion of all else, with the kid — and the Heroic Single Mom merit badge — as useful props on the campaign trail.
Ditto Hillary, though her main aspirational appeal comes from having snagged an apex alpha male. Remember that tw[i]t who said she’d happily blow Bill Clinton for keeping abortion legal? You can pretty much ignore everything after the hyperlink. Yeah, Bill cheated, but as a wise man once said, five minutes of alpha beats five years of beta, every time. That right there accounts for 90% of the Hillary love — and the Palin hate* — from liberal women.
Ditto Obama. Liberalism makes you brilliant, remember, and since politics is nothing more than putting smart people in office, Obama must be a smashing success. As, of course, all his supporters would be, had they gone to Harvard and run for office. Which they totally could’ve. Because liberalism.
You can tell that these individuals are, at bottom, aspirational figures simply by repackaging their biographies and presenting them as people you knew from college. Like so: “I knew this girl in college who was cute and vivacious, but she got married young and had a kid before she was ready. So get this: She divorces the guy and moves in with her parents just long enough to meet this old lawyer, who marries her and puts her through college and law school. He even takes care of the kids — including her previous one by Trailer Park Joe — while she’s off at Harvard on his dime. And then she dumps his ass the minute the last check clears. Oh, and she was fucking around on him the whole time she was up there — the marriage was nullified on account of her infidelity.”
Would you be friends with this person? Would you say yes, that’s just what she should’ve done; if Horny Old Lawyer Man was so whacked on Viagra that he believed her, he deserved to get taken to the cleaners?
To ask is to answer. And yet some people still insist on this heroic victim narrative. We’ve got to reframe that, to point out that Wendy Davis is, in fact, an awful person, and while her positions might not flow from her personal awfulness (though I think they do), her general shittiness taints whatever merit her positions might have.
If the personal is the political, in other words, then the political is also the personal. Even if you love you some abortions, do you want to be associated with this crappy wreck of a human being?
*Todd Palin is alpha and choosy, so you have to be at least as smokin’ hot as Sarah was to snag him. Bill’s well-documented willingness to dump a fuck into just about anything probably got him more distaff votes than all his policies combined.