Texas is full of armchair political experts. You can call me one of them, as I’m liable to offer an opinion or two on occasion on how I see the state of play across the state’s enormous landscape.
A friend of mine is another one. He tilts the other direction. I lean left, he leans right.
A recent blog post I published wondered aloud about the possible political impact that Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis’s revelation that she ended a pregnancy would have on her bid to become the state’s next governor. My friend responded that it wouldn’t budge her “dismal” poll numbers. She’ll still lose to Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, my friend believes.
I agree that the news by itself isn’t likely to budge the numbers in Davis’s favor. Abbott remains a solid favorite to win the gubernatorial election in November.
What could influence this race, however, is the response to her memoir, “Forgetting to Be Afraid,” and the item in it in which she reveals she aborted a pregnancy in the second trimester because she and her then-husband learned that their unborn daughter had a rare and potentially fatal brain disease.
Will her GOP opponent make hay over it? Probably not.
However, he has some zealous supporters across the state who just might try to make something of it. They just might seek to rub Davis’s face in the tragedy that darkened her life. They very well might want to resurrect the “Abortion Barbie” epithet that was attached to her after she led that legislative filibuster in 2013 that derailed temporarily a restrictive anti-abortion bill in the Texas Senate.
A lack of discretion on their part well might rouse some anger among those who otherwise would be inclined to vote for Abbott but who take issue with those who are beating up a political opponent over a decision that transcends politics. Indeed, that kind of personal tragedy ought to be out of bounds.
The more zealous among us — on both ends of the political spectrum — too often think everything is on the table. In the case involving Wendy Davis, acting on that instinct could blow up in their face.