SocraticGadfly: Dear #WendyDavis — where's your mom?

January 23, 2014

Dear #WendyDavis — where's your mom?

That rhetorical question is not meant to be snarky, and certainly not to be food for wingnut chum. Nor is it meant to be callous, if her mother, like her father, has died. It's serious and it relates to central themes of her campaign biography. I'll unpack that below.

(And, from what teh Google reveals, Virginia Cornstubble is still alive, and living in North Richland Hills.)

After Wayne Slater's piece questioning some details of Wendy Davis' campaign biography, next, her mother's education got in the spotlight.

BUT! ...

While Davis says she's a single mother raised by a single mother, her mom herself, and Davis' adult-life relation to her, details of her education aside, is strangely nowhere near the spotlight, at least not in my vision.

(And, sorry, P.Diddle and his readers; I do think this is an issue of some sort. Should she not be elected, but eventually nominated to some federal position or something, it would remain an issue, in my mind.)

First, back to the story about her mom's education.

Davis says elsewhere that she confused her mom's number of years of school with her grandfather's. And, yes, as weird as it sounds (I thought it was a Poe at first), her mom's name, after remarriage, is Cornstubble, per Jonathan Tilove.

He links to PolitiFact, which quotes Davis' father as having his ex remarry not just once, but twice, and with the second one being "Ira Cornstubble":
Russell said that his ex-wife remarried two or three years after their split and then another time later. He declined to elaborate. According to online Tarrant County records, Davis’ mother, Virginia, whom we failed to reach, married Ira Cornstubble in May 1994.
OK, now we're getting into bizarro world.

Yes, the confusion of Davis' mother and grandfather may be just that.

But, maybe it's another bit of spin.

And, per Tilove, I guess this Facebook page is authentic. It's weird to NOT have Davis' own pic among any pics in general besides the profile pic, or to not see Wendy Davis listed among her mom's family, or a personal Facebook page she might have listed as a "friend" of her mother's, on her mom's page.

That said, NONE of her kids is listed as family. Just nieces, nephews and grandchildren. Only one of Wendy's children is listed among those grandkids.

So, with all that stipulated, beyond Poe, or bizarro world, I want to follow up on this thread from Tilove:
Those stories were written as Davis was at her father's bedside where he lay dying. I recall at the time that the scene provoked a certain cognitive dissonance - not because of anything she had said, and not because it did not make perfect sense that she would be there, but because, in the shorthand political narrative of her life, her father was, by implication, the heavy - the father who had left her mother with four children and provided precious little in financial support. But of course, in the messy reality of life, her father could have left the family in the financial lurch, and still, as she toldVogue, be "a good dad."
Agreed, agreed, agreed.

Now, back to her mom, and details about her education and why, since she's not portrayed as the "heavy," we don't hear more about her?

As I said in my deleted post about what I thought was a Poe, did anybody in the media try to call Davis' mom about any of this? I mean, before he died, her dad was being quoted all the time, but I never heard word one from Davis' mom.

Now, she may already be dead. That Facebook page was last updated in 2011.

But, if we can't get one word FROM Davis' mom, if she's dead, what about one word from Davis ABOUT her mom? Other than saying she was a single mother whose one parent was a single mother, Davis' campaign biography is very sketchy in talking about her later-life relationship to her mom. As is that Facebook page of her mom's.

It's not lying, it's not spinning. It's just a bit of a knowledge black hole that I, at least, find weird.

Maybe there's degrees of dysfunctionality, not just bootstrap success, that Wendy doesn't want to talk about as much. For her dad, Jerry, the marriage to Virginia was his second, per his obit.

Meanwhile, in another media obit for him, Davis says this about the woman who married her dad about the time Davis was graduating high school:
“He was surrounded by his children and his wife, our stepmom, Suzi [McLaughlin]," Davis wrote. During his time in the hospital, there was never a moment that one of us wasn't by his side. We, and the community, will forever be grateful for the significant impact he made on our lives. He and his warm, sparkling brown eyes will be deeply missed. My family and I thank you for surrounding us with your prayers and comfort during this time.”
More interesting indeed, the "stepmom." I suppose it's not uncommon, but, it just seems interesting to call her that when married your dad about the time you became an adult, and you never regularly, if at all, lived under their combined roof.

Other media obits also seem to have McLaughin seemingly close to Davis.

For how long? And for how long had she had the connection to her biological mother fade?

As Tilove noted, citing an L.A. Times story, details can trip you up — he referenced Gary Hart(pence).

To be honest, I haven't seen a famous or semi-famous person write a parent out of their own biography this thoroughly since I read and reviewed Chris Steadman's Faitheist. And, yes, I wrote about the eyebrows that whitewash raised, and why, and let speculation run a bit. 

So, I'm going to offer a tentative why.

I think it's about money. I'll venture that Davis' first stepfather, her mom's second husband, didn't offer any of it to her. Or, maybe, it was her second stepfather. (I'm assuming that she called both of them that with a bit of tongue in cheek.) This would have been at the time of her attendance at TCU and Harvard. Per the bit of info from the Wayne Slater story, seems that she and her then-husband also eventually disagreed over who paid what for her higher education.

And, as for fellow blogger P.Diddle wondering about the propriety of Slater letting an acquaintance of Davis from Fort Worth City Council days speak off the record, I can offer a tentative answer to that. I think she not only throws sharp elbows at times, she wields the occasional shiv. The off-the-record person probably already got shivved once and doesn't want a repeat experience. If not a fellow member of the council, it's a former law practice colleague of hers. That sounds even more likely. 

Remember, if Davis loses, it's back to her private law practice, heavily dependent on state contracts. Anonymous No. 1, if he or she is a lawyer, full well knows that.

I may be overreading things, and I may be harshing her mallow (per a Facebook friend) a bit too much on all of these issues, but,  per Tilove and Hart(pence), it's one of those things where you tug at a string, and eventually, other strings unravel. And, I'm one of those people who, when I see a loose string, I start tugging. And, ever since her endorsement of David Alameel, who, it seems, may not be telling the full truth about being a pro-choice candidate, loose strings keep popping up. And that's why, though I debated about writing anything or not, I finally decided I needed to.

I mentioned Chris Steadman, and linked to my blogging about him, to note that this isn't a sexism issue. Not in my questioning, at least. (That said, Davis hasn't written her mom out of her story as much as Steadman did his dad.)

For people who know more about Davis, I'd love to hear more about her adult-life relationship to her (biological) mother. 

Update: Her daughters are defending the "trailer park" part of her story, but neither one is talking about their grandmother, in an albeit brief piece with a reporter not thinking to ask about this.

I know I run the risk of being tagged as a "Davis hater" or something. Well, let me state that, I'd certainly take her over Abbott. But, I'd take Green candidate Brandon Parmer over Davis, unless he's got some massive, unknown skeletons in his closet. I'm not a registered Green, but, a Green is likely to be stronger on environmental issues, especially for national-level offices, and also, simply thinking outside the box more on other issues. That said, I'm not a registered Green, either. Especially at the national level, it still seems to semi-officially flirt with alternative pseudo-medicine too much, among other things, and to be too blank check in its opposition to nuclear power, not just in its current form, but any form. And, we have no organized, ballot-represented Socialist party here. So, leaning Green without officially aligning, is my best stance.

John Randolph of Roanoke called himself a "tertium quid," a "third something," in the U.S. Congress, rather than align with either the Federalists or the Democratic-Republicans. More and more, I feel that way about myself.

Fortunately, though my research hasn't been as thorough as late 2007 and early  2008 with Barack Obama, I had read enough, before Davis' official announcement of candidacy, that I had made no major emotional investment in her campaign.

Again, would she be better than Abbott? Yes. That said, if we could dig up Bill Clements, he'd be better than Abbott, too. No wonder many '60s activists wound up no longer voting.

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