The Darling-of-the-Left du jour (how many French words can I pile up at the top of this column?) is a Democratic State Senator from Texas named Wendy Davis.
You may remember that she burst onto the national scene by staging a filibuster in the waning moments of a special Texas legislative session this past summer.
It helped that she was a blonde and attractive woman. It helped that she is a Democrat in a very Red state. And it was crucial to the narrative that her filibuster was an attempt to stop the State Senate from voting on a law seen as pro-life.
According to a contemporaneous article in New York Times: "The bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, require abortion clinics to meet the same standards that hospital-style surgical centers do, and mandate that a doctor who performs abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital."
The merits of the bill is not at issue here. What is important to this discussion is that Ms. Davis was propelled into the national spotlight generally and into the race for Governor of Texas specifically.
The current problem for Sen. Davis is that she lied on her résumé.
People fudge their personal histories all the time.
In fact, the only thing Al Gore, John Kerry, and I have in common is this: If we tell a story often enough we think it actually happened whether we made it up in the first place or not.
Why is lying on a résumé often so deadly?
Because it is under the subject's absolute control. Every comma. Every noun. Every date. Every paragraph.
Little white inaccuracies creep in to your background in the telling; if you become senior enough some staffer sticks it into your official bio. It's not worth correcting so it stays there and succeeding generations of re-writes tweak it a little more until - kaboom.
It has become a lie.
Rarely does one of these lies rise to the level of being actionable by a government entity. If you claimed to be a brain surgeon and you actually received a degree in diesel mechanics, that would do it; but that is almost never the case.
A Republican former Congressman from New York named Bruce Caputo ran for U.S. Senate and was caught lying which the NY Times' Michael Oreskes described as his having said he was a "Vietnam-era 'draftee' and an Army lieutenant although he was neither."
Turns out Caputo, according to that same article, "took a civilian job at the Pentagon to avoid being drafted."
Caputo said that it was a minor mis-statement of the fact that he worked around a lot of lieutenants and thought of himself being at that same level.
When I was in Baghdad my civilian grade was that of a member of the Senior Executive Service. That carried a rank-equivalent of a Major (two-star) General. It never occurred to me to tell anyone - especially any two-star Generals I came across - that I felt I actually held that rank.
On the other hand the current Senator from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, had a biographical mismatch with the truth that included his saying he had served in Vietnam.
According to the Huffington Post: "He was granted five deferments and ultimately ended up in the Marine Reserves."
Blumenthal won anyway because (a) he was running in a heavily-Democratic state and (b) he, unlike Caputo, actually wore the uniform.
Davis' transgressions might not be the determining reason she will lose to Attorney General Greg Abbott, but the fact that her personal biography and the truth didn't exactly meet at the corner will dog her for the rest of the campaign.
Abbott is too strong, too talented, too well-financed, and Texas is too Republican a state.
In her panic to diffuse the growing self-inflicted controversy she said in a statement: "I am proud of what I've been able to achieve through hard work and perseverance and I guarantee you that anyone who tries to say otherwise hasn't walked a day in my shoes."
An unfortunate choice of words, as Greg Abbot is a paraplegic. The Washington Post described his situation saying: "At 26, Abbott was hit by an oak tree while running and was partially paralyzed; he has been in a wheelchair ever since."
If you want to campaign for (or be appointed to) a public office, go back over your résumé and fix the problems. Right. Now.
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to Wendy Davis' bio from Wikipedia (which may or may not be more accurate than her own version); also to Bruce Caputo and Richard Blumenthal. And a link to the WaPo's thumbnail sketch of Greg Abbot. Also another precious Mullfoto of my cat.