Wendy Davis Milks The Republican Outrage Cow

It seems like Wendy Davis, the Texas gubernatorial candidate whose political star was launched by a flamboyant filibuster last year, just can not get enough mileage out of Republican outrage. That must be it.

Why else would Senator Davis speak up at an event by and for a group that Republican lawmakers have been accused of denying legal protection, and describe exactly the behavior that that group has routinely experienced over the last several decades?

Oh, wait. The video shows that Wendy Davis’ “inflammatory” remarks came during a comment on immigration reform.

If you strictly followed the coverage of Davis’s remarks without viewing the timid and rather euphemistic way that she alluded to the easily discernible pattern of nativist behavior within a visible sub-section of the GOP, you might think that Ms. Davis accused the entire party of being card-carrying members of racial hate groups. And certainly, there is a lot that can be said for Republican efforts to reach out to Latino voters.

For instance, there’s the way that one of the most prominent Latino Republican voices in Congress, Senator Ted Cruz, continues to pull the party further and further to an extreme right-wing set of positions on immigration reform.

Of course, if Wendy Davis is only concerned about the likes of Mr. Cruz and his effect on Texas, then she’s really missing out on the party’s big picture. After all, there are moderate Republicans like Marco Rubio, who heroically consistently propose talk about the abstract idea of fixing serious problems with the infrastructure of immigration maybe applauding when someone else finally does something.

Touche, Ms. Davis.

But what about the way that Wendy Davis brazenly posted graphic and offensive portraits of herself, Andy Warhol-style, all over Los Angeles? Certainly, such avant garde propaganda tactics merit the disdain of Republican critics, whose concern for family values and human dignity would preclude the public display of such unsettling images?

Wait. According to every source available, that was not in fact avant-garde pro-Davis propaganda, it was, in fact, the work of a right-wing critic with a particularly toxic outlook. And judging from the responses to it, the artist is not an outlier when it comes to conservative views of Davis.

One does not have to be a Wendy Davis fan, or even to subscribe to the kind of rampant literary imaginings that some of her supporters have applied to the situation, to understand why she might be having a hard time speaking well of the Republican party.

Let’s not forget, after all, that it was the Republican-controlled Texas state legislature that attempted to illegally pass a bill after the end of the session in order to get around Wendy Davis’s initial, fame-launching filibuster.

One thing that her critics have right is the fact that politicians like Wendy Davis who throw around accusations of flat-out racism are trying to stir up emotions. They even have it kind of right when they claim that accusations of racism do, to some extent, automatically shut down conversations by escalating conflict.

One thing that Wendy Davis critics have wrong, though, is the idea that Ms. Davis is the one throwing around accusations of racism. She said something that she observed to be true: that Republicans “don’t like people who don’t look like them.” A female candidate said this to a room full of LGBT people who tended toward tolerance on immigration issues, about a party that (at her state level) has attempted to pass laws whose effects fall disproportionately on women, the LGBT community, and the immigrant community.

She said this about a party that is primarily steered by established, wealthy men. The majority of them are white, but we will grant the Republican party of Texas that that is changing. Still, to say that LGBT persons and women generally don’t ‘look like’ white or Latino men is hardly controversial. It definitely isn’t just a racial description.

Did Davis likely mean to include race in that pool of descriptors? Yes. Is it arguing in good faith to indicate that it’s all she meant? No.

And if the racial statement is all you heard when you listened, then maybe that says more about you than it does about Wendy Davis.

All we can really say about her is that Wendy Davis knows how to get a cow to give milk. Even if that cow is a publicity cow and the milk is the tears of her opponents. So much for smaller brains.

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