Former Gov. Christie Whitman of New Jersey, a Republican, put it this way: “It’s not that the questions about the accuracy of her narrative are illegitimate. It’s the intensity of the questioning that’s so disheartening.” Whitman recalled having herself been chided for spending time on vacation with her children after her primary race for governor — proof of lacking fire in the belly — just as Davis is now being condemned as a maternally deficient careerist for not spending enough time with hers. The persistence of a gender-based double standard, Granholm said, “is the oldest story in the book.”
But an equally familiar tale is about how narratives are spun in American politics. Davis’s rendition — “a Texas success story,” as she put it on the “Today” show — was chosen and packaged by her and her team with the greatest of care, and as Granholm acknowledged, “strategists emphasize some things and downplay other things — that’s true with every candidate on the planet.” The only thing harder to imagine than conservative voters being wholeheartedly supportive of Davis’s life choices is a savvy politician being wholly oblivious to such unease and, in concert with her campaign team, not tailoring her story accordingly.