Margaret Carlson | C’mon, Wendy Davis is ‘essentially’ telling the truth

I may be soft on anyone who takes a good story and makes it better. I grew up in an Irish family where Sunday dinner would have been no more than well-done roast beef and mashed potatoes had it not been for uncles outdoing one another about the size of the fish they’d caught and the poker pot they’d won. And what is journalism but organizing facts into a compelling narrative.

Davis has the bad luck to have a second ex-husband giving his side of the rags-to-riches story (he says he supplied the riches). Yes, she and her daughter lived in a mobile home, but only for a few months before moving into an apartment, and she worked two jobs. Enter the second husband, an older lawyer with whom she had a second daughter. They divorced in 2005 but not before, he says, he paid for her last two years at Texas Christian University and for Harvard Law, and kept her two daughters while she was there. Davis said that she and her husband cashed in a 401(k) and took out loans to pay for her tuition and that she split time between Massachusetts and Texas. When they divorced, he asked for and got custody of the two girls, and Davis was doing well enough by then to pay child support.

Did Davis “cavalierly deceive voters” with a “fanciful narrative,” as Abbott’s spokesman Matt Hirsch said, or is there a truthiness to her telling of her life 30 years ago? The elements of working her way up from hardscrabble beginnings are as she’s described them.

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