Let’s Just Retire “Swiftboating”

Yesterday in the comments, rikyrah posted a link to this Margaret Carlson piece, “Wendy Davis is being Swiftboated”. It’s based on this Dallas Morning News piece that examines Davis’ life story. The Morning News piece points out a few embarrassing lapses in fact, and her second ex-husband makes a few comments that aren’t very flattering to her, and some that are. He also discloses that he got custody of their daughter, who was in 8th grade at the time, and that Wendy filed for divorce the day after the last payment was made on her Harvard loans. (And that she paid $1,200 month in child support to him after the divorce, so it’s not like she took him to the cleaners.)

Overall, it’s a mixed bag detailing what appears to have been a more-or-less amicable divorce, and it shows that Wendy didn’t spend as much time living in a trailer as she might have led us to believe. If Davis’ biggest sin is letting her middle-school-aged daughter stay in the family home, and making her rise from the lower middle class to the upper middle class sound a little more hardscrabble, then she’s about as big a liar as every other politician ever.

Margaret has to work to jam this piece into the “Swiftboating” frame, because it isn’t a bunch of lies, it’s not that negative, and because Davis and her allies have learned the lesson of the Kerry campaign and are pushing back hard and quick. And while in 2004 the best the haters could do was some TV ads and band-aids, today the haters have social media where shit like this shows their true colors for everyone to see.

To say Davis is being “Swiftboated” is to cast her as  a weak, powerless victim of right-wing media. Right-wing media is still a powerful force, but I don’t think it works the way it did a decade ago, no matter what Margaret Carlson says, because Democrats like Davis have gotten better at defending themselves. Perhaps Carlson should engage in a Sister Souljah moment with the rest of the DC media, and tell them to retire the phrase from their vocabulary.

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49 replies
  1. 1
    kdaug says:

    Everyone knows who Wendy Davis is.
    Nobody knows who Greg Abbot is.

  2. 2
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Carlson is lazy.So she took the easy route, and compared Davis to Kerry (for some odd fucking reason). Guess she had to type it out on the fly before she got hammered at Sally Quinn’s house.

  3. 3
    Botsplainer says:

    I’m going to defend Davis on the horseshit. Guessing that the teen marriage blew up at 19 and became a divorce at 21 because money and inertia (this happens constantly). And a few months in a trailer can feel like an eternity.

  4. 4
    MattF says:

    So, Carlson said something inaccurate and prejudicial against Republicans. Tsk. I’m just outraged.

  5. 5
    dmsilev says:

    Of course, Carlson apparently couldn’t resist tossing this bit in at the end:

    I don’t agree with Davis on the filibuster that made her famous. Abortions should be illegal after viability, which is coming earlier and earlier as neonatal care improves.

    Sigh.

  6. 6
    RaflW says:

    Wendy’s team was aggressively tweeting yesterday to the point that I unfollowed. I’m still a fan and will probably start following the tweeterama again in a bit. But I don’t need to be convinced or pushed back.

    That said, a strong response is most likely wise. She’s clearly no pushover. I don’t harbor illusions that she’s got a great chance in TX – its still a major yahoo state (trust me, I lived there 14 f’ing years…). But her run is important to rebuilding Dem visibility and brand in Texas.

    Look at Houston, with a two-term lesbian Democrat as mayor. Now, she’s a pretty moderate Dem, but in Texas, when the Republicans are in Atilla the Hun’s finishing school, moderate Dem is a really big step.

    My rambly point is: the large urban cores of places like Houston and Dallas (and even Ft Worth) can be cultivated to develop the Democratic playing field. Getting behind an appealing Dem gubernatorial candidate could have some very important coat-tails.

    I am not at all surprised that there’s been a tad of biography fluffing, and no doubt the right will attack the “little lady” hard, but that poses risks for GOPers. Not that they’ll see it that way (cf: Huckaby).

  7. 7
    kdaug says:

    You’re missing the larger point.

    Nobody’s talking about Greg Abbott. Nobody cares.

    Wendy’s got Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. That’s ~3/5 of the population. Don’t know how she plays in El Paso or Midland/Odessa, but I really don’t think it matters.

    (And apologies to Mr. Abbott for misspelling his name in my first post. I had to look it up.)

  8. 8
    BGinCHI says:

    Advice to Wendy Davis:

    Ask yourself what Anne Richards would do and then do that.

  9. 9
    monkeyfister says:

    Sure, “Swiftboating” is ten years old, and the “Swiftboat Veterans” are no longer needed. Retire it!

    But, only AFTER we retire putting “-Gate” after every goddamned scandal. Half the country wasn’t even ALIVE when the Plumbers did their break-in. NO ONE FUCKING REMEMBERS what “-Gate” means.

    Kill it with fire– then and only then, should we extinct “Swiftboating.”

    Feeling twitchy to use “-Gate?” Just stop, think of something else more clever, and use that instead.

  10. 10
    DougJ says:

    How about Swishboating, for when they go after Charlie Crist?

  11. 11
    MattF says:

    @MattF: And I’ll add… What is the Repub response to the accusation going to be? “We’re not swiftboating anyone. We’re telling the truth!” Honest!

  12. 12
    GregB says:

    I, for one think that Thurston and Lovey McDonnell are being swift-yachted.

  13. 13
    Butch says:

    I followed the last link, and once again I despair for humanity every time I read the comments section of a newspaper.

  14. 14
    geg6 says:

    In one of our admissions videos that we are supposed to show at admissions events, it is touted that Margaret Carlsson is a Penn State grad.

    I still have no idea why they think this is a selling point. Especially to a bunch of 18 year olds.

  15. 15
    kdaug says:

    Said it before, I’ll say it again: Ann Richards. Annise Parker. Bill Moyers. Dan Rather. Molly Ivans. Jim Hightower.

    Hell, Ma Ferguson.

    Texas is a blue state. There’s just a lot of money trying to keep it red.

    (ETA: And LBJ, of course)

  16. 16
    Felinious Wench says:

    @kdaug: Speak it. That’s the damn truth.

  17. 17
    Gene108 says:

    My understanding of “Swiftboating”, as a general term, is to take a political strength of a candidate and cast it into doubt in the minds of voters.

    Kerry’s decorated stint on a swift boat was supposed to be his strength.

    Davis’ rags-to-“riches” story is supposed to be her strength.

    I think effectively casting doubts on her story would qualify as Swiftboating.

  18. 18
    SiubhanDuinneOnIPhone5 says:

    @kdaug

    And Barbara Jordan!

  19. 19
    Bob says:

    @Butch: Try the comments at Mediate, they will have you looking to eat a shotgun. The stupidity, it burns.

  20. 20
    Cervantes says:

    @geg6:

    I still have no idea why they think this is a selling point. Especially to a bunch of 18 year olds.

    Not sure about your location but in many places, parents attend “admissions events.”

  21. 21
    kdaug says:

    @SiubhanDuinneOnIPhone5: Can’t believe I forgot her.

  22. 22
    geg6 says:

    @Cervantes:

    Oh, they do. But never have I had one parent even acknowledge that they had a clue as to who she is. The other people we have in that video, people have heard of or are interested in what they do or where they work. Village pundit does not register.

  23. 23
    rikyrah says:

    @Sebelius
    A key milestone: about 3 million Americans have now enrolled in a private Marketplace plan. RT to share the good news!

  24. 24
    Cervantes says:

    @geg6: So edit the video or make a new one.

    Anyhow, the fewer people recognize her name the better, as I’m sure you agree.

  25. 25
    srv says:

    I’m sure the republicans would prefer Poorgate or Trailergate.

  26. 26
    gogol's wife says:

    OT, but NewsMax headline: “Ben Carson: Will State of the Union Be Communism Lesson?”

  27. 27
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @gogol’s wife: I’d love it if he’d read a couple of passages from “Das Kapital” — in the original — just for the headsplosions.

  28. 28
    MattF says:

    @gogol’s wife: Anticipatory retrotemporal outrage.

  29. 29
    Violet says:

    This Wendy Davis kerfuffle will be forgotten because of the WINTER WEATHER APOCALYPSE that is happening in Houston, San Antonio and Austin (slightly less bad there) today. Schools are shut, offices are on delayed opening, icy overpasses and bridges have shut down areas of the cities. It’s full time news coverage of…ice on roads.

    After the ice thaws, it’ll be the weekend and by Monday it’ll be, “We handled this biography back story nonsense last week” on the bio issue. Republicans got iced out.

  30. 30
    MikeJ says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    “Ben Carson: Will State of the Union Be Communism Lesson?”

    Somebody sure as fuck needs to teach them the difference between Democrats winning elections and Stalinist dictatorship.

  31. 31
    aimai says:

    @geg6: Yeah, at a recent University of Chicago admissions event they touted the most god awful bunch of loser right wing people as alums–but the admissions people didn’t really have any sense of the meaning of the names or the significance, say, of bragging on Milton Friedman. Fame = name recognition. It was content free to the admin people. But it was definitely aimed at the parents, not the students.

  32. 32
    WereBear says:

    Why retire “swiftboating”? Why shouldn’t it be immortalized, like gerrymandering?

    If anyone said they “lived in a trailer” and they did, indeed, live in a trailer, I have to give them a pass.

  33. 33
    David Hunt says:

    @MikeJ:

    Somebody sure as fuck needs to teach them the difference between Democrats winning elections and Stalinist dictatorship.

    Well, they know that they would install a totalitarian state with them and their toadies on top if they got total power, so they simply assume that Democrats would do the same.

    It’s always Projection with them.

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:

    @aimai:

    A fellow alumnus of my university is Donald Segretti, Watergate criminal and the father of “ratfucking.” Beat that! ;-)

  35. 35
    Roger Moore says:

    @MikeJ:

    Somebody sure as fuck needs to teach them the difference between Democrats winning elections and Stalinist dictatorship.

    Accusing Democrats of socialism, communism, Marxism, etc. has passed its best by date. Democratic policies are popular enough that equating them with all those -isms is doing more to rehabilitate the -isms than it is to damage the Democrats’ reputations.

  36. 36
    muricafukyea says:

    Wonder if phone it in muckymux can get through the entire day without rubbing out out thinking about Snowden and NSA data collection porn?

    When Obama finally did a long fact based speech about with specific actions he plans to take, hipster doofus muckymux had NOTHING to says. Absolutely fuk all. He wrote a 2 sentence post about it. The guy cannot even cut/paste anything as small as 2 sentences any other time.

  37. 37
    Thor Heyerdahl says:

    @muricafukyea: Derf – go jerk off to the latest Rob Ford patois.

  38. 38
    balconesfault says:

    @kdaug: Greg Abbott is the guy who got rich thanks to a massive settlement on a personal injury lawsuit because he ran under a tree that was falling down.

    That’s the sort of “I made it myself” story that Republicans are proud of, right?

  39. 39
    sparrow says:

    As one of my friends pointed out the other day, if this were the typical politician divorce story with genders reversed, it would read “and the wife stayed home and took care of the kids” and no one would care.

  40. 40
    g says:

    Well, this is a terrible thing Wendy’s done, isn’t it? Writing a biographical summary to look positive. It’s the most terrible thing any gubernatorial candidate has done since the time Darrell Issa was so forthcoming about his car theivery when he ran to replace Gray Davis in California.

  41. 41
    ralphb says:

    @balconesfault: What republicans will like about Abbott’s success story is how, after his own massive settlement, he pushed hard for tort reform. Or tort deform to call it by it’s deserved name.

  42. 42
    Mnemosyne says:

    @sparrow:

    Not to mention the thousands of husbands who let their wives help put them through medical/law school and then promptly dumped them once their careers were on track.

  43. 43
    Ronnie Pudding says:

    For Crissakes, Carlson is attacking the Republicans for their attacks on Davis. But we have to beat up Carlson because she used the word swift-boating, which BJers are apparently alone in thinking is meant as a criticism of the person being swift-boated.

    Carlson writes:

    There’s something at work here where men get to boast and women are supposed to be modest and sweat the details. Look at Mayor Dawn Zimmer of Hoboken, N.J. If she gets a single fact wrong about her allegation that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration threatened to stiff her city on Hurricane Sandy recovery funds, she’ll be toast, and Christie will remain the self-proclaimed hero of the coast.

  44. 44
    Cervantes says:

    @Ronnie Pudding:

    But we have to beat up Carlson because she used the word swift-boating

    I agree with you: doing that would be a mistake.

  45. 45
    ruemara says:

    No. Any other requests?

  46. 46
    LuigiDaMan says:

    And although Kerry was “swift boated” he did absolutely nothing to counteract the claims. In many respects, his lack of action was the real swift boat.

  47. 47
    LuigiDaMan says:

    And although Kerry was “swift boated” he did absolutely nothing to counteract the claims. In many respects, his lack of action was the real swift boat.

  48. 48
    LuigiDaMan says:

    And although Kerry was “swift boated” he did absolutely nothing to counteract the claims. In many respects, his lack of action was the real swift boat.

  49. 49
    LuigiDaMan says:

    And although Kerry was “swift boated” he did absolutely nothing to counteract the claims. In many respects, his lack of action was the real swift boat.

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