Quantcast

#TXGov: ‘I am the epitome of hard work and optimism’ — a note on the use of imprecise language

Written by . Posted in 2014 Campaigns, Featured

Tagged:

Published on January 20, 2014

CaptureWendy Davis, the Texas pol who attained fame after her spirited defense of late-term abortion, is now the likely Democratic nominee for governor. So now journalists are looking into her background, and it turns out she made a few embellishments to her life story about being pregnant, married, and divorced by 19, and then working her way up from a trailer park.

The Dallas Morning News relates that she had said, under oath, “I had a baby. I got divorced by the time I was 19 years old…After I got divorced, I lived in a mobile home park in southeast Fort Worth.” As her website puts it, “With the help of academic scholarships and student loans, Wendy not only became the first person in her family to earn a bachelor’s degree but graduated first in her class and was accepted to Harvard Law School.”

In fact, she divorced at age 21, not 19, and lived only very briefly in her ex-husband’s mobile home. But that’s not the interesting part.

[T]he full story of Davis’ life is more complicated, as often happens when public figures aim to define themselves. In the shorthand version that has developed, some facts have been blurred.
Davis was 21, not 19, when she was divorced. She lived only a few months in the family mobile home while separated from her husband before moving into an apartment with her daughter.
A single mother working two jobs, she met Jeff Davis, a lawyer 13 years older than her, married him and had a second daughter. He paid for her last two years at Texas Christian University…When she was accepted to Harvard Law School, Jeff Davis cashed in his 401(k) account and eventually took out a loan to pay for her final year there…

Jeff Davis relates that the she moved out of their house the day he made the last payment on that loan.

In his initial divorce filing, Jeff Davis said the marriage had failed, citing adultery on her part and conflicts that the couple could not overcome….

 Fortunately, Davis has learned her lesson:

“My language should be tighter…I’m learning about using broader, looser language. I need to be more focused on the detail.”

This is exactly what I’m always telling people — it’s all about focus and tightness and using precisely the right words to describe things.

For example, when Davis said in a TV appearance last week, “I am the epitome of hard work and optimism,” it would have been more focused and detailed for her to say, “I cheated on and left the guy who cashed out his 401(k) to put me through college and law school.”

comments