February 03, 2014

So, #WendyDavis is #prolife?

Apparently so, or at least in one utterance down in the Valley.

I'm three months late to this one, but, boy, it explains a lot. And, because I think it does explain a lot, and that "lot" needs to be unpacked, I'm putting down some detailed thoughts.

It explains more of why Davis endorsed David Alameel (and Leticia Van der Putte's endorsement of him as well), and indirectly explains why someone on a Facebook page claims that complaints about this, and about Alameel in general, are anti-Catholic. The fact that the statement was made off the cuff, but at a presser, and then attempted to be retracted, explains the depth of disorganization of the Davis campaign.

And, that leads to what could be the subtitle of this piece:

Davis campaign, handlers, strategists suck

And, no, I don't think that's all due to Lone Star Project or Battleground Texas "handlers." I think it is just as much due to her old state senate campaign staff. Besides, the two are kind of incestuous. The Lone Star Project's Matt Angle is more of a Washingtonian, yes, but brother J.D. is and has been part of Davis' team since before her first state senate run, as this piece notes.

As far as where we're at? I'm not even sure "disorganized" is right. Nor is "on lockdown" right, if part of this is due to older hands who have worked with her before. "Deer in the headlights" might be more truthful in some ways. I think it was very truthful three months ago.

Three months ago? Yes, I missed her first great stumble and her second great pandering, not too long after her visit to Waxahachie.

The Observer introduced me to the story. (And hat tip to McBlogger's post for bringing this to light). Davis used the phrase "pro-life" about herself? Per a Facebooker who tried the same, this is nothing but Grade-A bullshit. "Pro-life" and "pro-choice" have publicly defined meanings.
When Davis did arrive, she met with reporters for 10 minutes. Sanchez asked the candidate about her statement, at an earlier event in the Valley, that Davis was “pro-life.” This was a predictable question given the campaign’s reluctance to even say the word “abortion.” Sanchez documents what happened next: “[Davis] looked at me and shook her head. But before she could articulate, her new press aide Rebecca Acuña jumped in and said ‘that comment was taken out of context.’”
That said, we do now have more of a clue on how and why she endorsed David Alameel.

The Observer links to this piece, an op-ed column by the McAllen Monitor's opinion editor, Sandra Sanchez, for the background, which has this:
She told media in Pharr on Wednesday night at Poncho’s Mexico Nuevo Restaurant that she is “not a single-issue candidate.” She did prattle on about raising women’s pay, helping families out of poverty, the safety of women, aiding veterans and the importance of higher education to get ahead. But not once did she use the A-word: “abortion.”
Of course, you're not a "single-issue" person, but you're actively running away from the one single issue that propelled you to the foreground? 

That leads to this:
After six minutes, the media was herded into a dark area of the hut where we had 10 minutes to ask her questions to which she reiterated all of the above, with still no mention of women’s reproductive rights. So when I stated that women have been a big part of her base of support and asked whether she was trying to distance herself from the abortion issue, or to quote The Brownsville Herald, was “pro-life,” she looked at me and shook her head. But before she could articulate, her new press aide Rebecca Acuña jumped in and said “that comment was taken out of context.”... 
No matter how it was phrased, it was clear that Davis was not going to say “abortion” and would steer the subject back to education at every turn.
Getting near to "deer in the headlights" time.

The Brownsville Herald piece is here, with the relevant comment, here:
“I am pro-life,” she said, borrowing from the label anti-abortion activists assign themselves. “I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future. I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.”
Nice try but, again, when we're talking narrowly and specifically about issues of reproductive choice, "pro-life" and "pro-choice" have commonly accepted meanings. Time for you to have a Ludwig Wittgenstein 101 lesson. No, you and your handlers don't get to repackage yourself that blatantly and bizzarely.

As for chasing conservative Catholic votes with this move, as Sanchez's Monitor column implies is the motive?

Well, we're talking about Hispanics, let's be honest. But, Hispanics who are more likely to vote are less likely to be that conservative, I bet. Second, Ms. Sanchez? More and more Hispanics, especially the conservative ones, are evangelical Protestants, not Catholics. If Battleground Texas is following your calculus, we've got more problems, Houston.

But wait, on the disorganization factor, it gets worse, as Sanchez's Monitor column documents.
And that’s probably why I was shocked and disappointed when her press aide, Acuña, called and woke me at 11:30 p.m. that night asking that The Monitor retract a headline on an online article that referenced Davis’ “pro-life” position. She then tried to backpedal and said her comments weren’t for publication, although they were made during a public media briefing. After the media briefing, Acuña did speak with some journalists on background but that was not the case when she jumped in during the open media conference. 
The attempt to get a newspaper to withdraw a headline? About as stupid, and as laughable, as Davis suing the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1996 after losing her first run for the Fort Worth City Council.

To be blunt?

If Davis has learned, or accepted, or internalized, so little, so very little, in dealing with the press in nearly 18 years, she's up fucking shit creek from now to November.

And, rightfully so.

Related to that? Unless Davis starts firing people ASAP, being honest about being a pro-choicer while still covering other issues, etc., she is toast.

But? Given that this is her M.O., to some degree, and it's associated with longer-term advisors, ain't much gonna change.

Meanwhile, back to Brownsville ...

Aside from not retreating from the issue that made Davis a household name, Acuña should also know that with political stakes this high you can’t cry “background” retroactively to the media.

You know what's sadder yet? This is not the first political rodeo for Rebecca Acuña, either, so, we can't blame her "retraction" request on being a greenhorn. She was a Texas Democratic Party spokesperson before this, and a Congressional staffer for Rep. Pete Gallego.

Hey, Battleground Texas? You got a lot of work to do. Or undo. Or both. If professional staffing sucks this much, you've got more than just candidate recruitment to worry about. (And, more on candidate recruitment in a future post.)

And, if, even setting aside her worries about her father and his eventual death, the Angles, Mark Veasey and others couldn't do a better job of "framing" before Davis came out of the chute, then maybe they're the wrong people to fix what ails Texas Democrats anyway, you know?

And, none of this will help Texas' anemic voter turnout.

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