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October 11, 2014

Wendy Davis Desperately Attacks Abbott's Disability

When you are utterly unqualified for the office you seek, have no accomplishments other than blathering away while wearing pink tennis shoes, hold political positions that are rejected by most voters, and are congenitally unable to put forth a coherent case for your election, of course you have to go negative in every campaign ad. But Texas Democrat Wendy Davis has reached a new low in her floundering campaign for governor -- she has attacked Greg Abbott, her Republican opponent, because he was paralyzed in an accident as a young man.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is using Republican opponent Greg Abbott’s disability against him in a new TV ad, accusing the attorney general of repeatedly siding against victims like himself.

The Abbott campaign was swift to condemn the 30-second spot, which opens with a reference to the 1984 accident that left him partially paralyzed.

“A tree fell on Greg Abbott,” a narrator says over an image of an empty wheelchair. ”He sued and got millions. Since then, he’s spent his career working against other victims.”

Let's be clear about the three cases the Davis ad highlights -- and how she misrepresents Abbott's position in each of them.

  1. In the case of the amputee with the prosthesis, the in pretrial motions the AG's office argued that because her prosthesis allowed her to perform her job without any modification, the ADA was inapplicable. This was one of several defenses asserted (the two main ones were sovereign immunity and that she was passed over for promotion for reasons unrelated to her disability. At trial, the state showed won after proving that the failure to promote her had no relationship to her being an amputee.

  2. In the case involving the salesman who committed a rape, Abbott's position was that his employer (an independent distributor of Kirby vacuums) was the party that should be sued for failure to do a background check on the salesman, not the manufacturer of the vacuums. He did not argue she could not pursue damages in the case.

  3. In the malpractice case, Abbott's office intervened not to argue against a malpractice award for actual damages, but instead to defend a state law passed by the voters that caps punitive damages.

As for Abbott's own award nearly two decades before the passage of tort reform by Texas voters, the money he receives are actual damages for his injuries and the cost of his healthcare, NOT punitive damages. Such an award would still be permitted under Texas tort reform laws.

Abbott has responded with a level of dignity and decencyy that Davis has refused to show during her doomed campaign against him.

The 30-second ad, which the Davis campaign said Friday would start running across the state, drew a swift rebuke from Abbott's campaign, which called it "disgusting" and "desperate."

"It's offensive ... It shows the tenor of the campaign," Abbott said during an exclusive interview with the San Antonio Express- News. "If you look at my ads, I focused on what I'm going to be doing as governor, and my opponent spends all her time in ads attacking me, as I'm attacking the challenges that fellow Texans deal with."

Abbott, the state attorney general, lost the use of his legs after his spine was crushed when a tree fell on him while jogging in 1984.

"It's her choice if she wants to attack a guy in a wheelchair. I don't think it's going to sell too well," Abbott added.

It isn't unexpected that Davis acolytes are celebrating this ad as "The Greg Abbott ad we’ve been waiting for." After all, the scum who are working for Battleground Texas have been mocking Abbott's disability since early in the campaign and local left-wing bloggers here in Houston who have been backing Davis have had a great time yukking it up over the accident for over a year. Remember -- these are guys who consider any criticism of Obama from the right to be racist and any criticism of Davis from Republicans to be sexist -- but fail to recognize that their own attacks on Abbott over his disability are fundamentally bigoted -- just like this ad.

Now let's consider how Davis has campaigned. Her campaign ads have almost all been negative attacks on Abbott because she has little in the way of accomplishment in her own time in office to qualify her to be governor, has a record of unethical activity to enrich herself and her donors via her votes on city council and in the state senate, has lied about her biography in an attempt to deceive the voters of Texas, and has positions on the issues that are out of step with most Texans. Indeed, the only thing more fake than the claims in a Wendy Davis campaign ad are her hair color and her breast implants.

The nice thing is that Davis is being attacked from all sides over this ad. Of course conservative sites like Hot Air, National Review Online and Weasel Zippers attack Davis over this one, But they aren't alone. Libertarian blogger Doug Mataconis, who finds the ad despicable, notes that even those from the Left are troubled.

The ad is obviously being condemned on the right, but the Davis campaign is also being criticized from the left by people who are otherwise inclined to support the campaign. Mother Jone’s Ben Dreyfuss, for example, calls the ad “offensive and nasty,” and says that it shouldn’t exist. Additionally, as Aaron Blake notes, this kind of ad is the kind of desperation move that one sees from a campaign that is losing and losing badly. In Davis’s case, she has trailed Abbott by double digits in polling for months now, and the RealClearPolitics Average currently gives Abbott an 11.3 point average in the race. In other words, Davis is going to lose this race. It’s too bad she couldn’t lose with dignity.

I've got some things I would like to say about Davis in light of this ad, things that I've refrained from saying because I don't want to lower myself to the level of Davis and her supporters. Instead I'll just settle for putting up this graphic from January.

I think that says all that needs to be said about Davis and the degree to which she deserves to be taken seriously by anyone. Now come on, fellow Texans -- go out and vote for Greg Abbott.

UPDATE: Noah over at Texpate -- a Davis supporter -- clearly explains what is wrong with the ad.

In 1984, when Abbott was 26 and studying for the bar exam, a tree fell on him in a freak accident. He was running around his neighborhood following a storm. The accident left him permanently paralyzed from the waist down; it also prompted him to sue both the homeowner and the landscaping company responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of the tree in question. He won about $10 Million off of that lawsuit. Later, Abbott heralded tort reform that capped punitive damages in lawsuits and brought about big changes that made suits harder for victims. Longtime readers of my opinions will be familiar with my skepticism of so-called tort reform, but that’s not really at issue here.

Accordingly, this narrative, that Abbott rightly received justice after he was wronged but then pulled up the ladder behind him to prevent others from doing the same, is somewhat compelling. It is edgy but it makes a valid point. Considering how Abbott has used his wheelchair to benefit himself in his ads, it appears it is fair game to bring it up in a respectful manner on a relevant point.

All that being said, the ad does not talk about tort reform. Instead, the 30-second spot — filled with ominous narration and music — broadly connects the accident/lawsuit with some of Abbott’s actions in the past, none of which related to tort reform.

Please note -- Noah thinks that there is a legitimate point to be made about Abbott receiving the settlement and his position on tort reform. I disagree, given that Abbott's settlement is entirely for economic damages rather than non-economic and punitive damages. But I at least respect his position because he gives the matter a reasoned intellectual approach rather than the "mock the cripple" approach taken by Davis and so many of her supporters. I give him props for that.





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