The PJ Tatler

'Hoods and Robes'? Really, Wendy Davis Democrats?

So, this will take some unpacking. Please bear with me.

Texas GOP governor nominee Greg Abbott is announcing his education plan today. The Dallas Morning News’ Christy Hoppe has distorted that plan with this headline: “Greg Abbott’s education plan cites controversial thinker on race, gender“. That’s quite a headline. If you squint real hard, it’s barely accurate, though far from fair.

Hoppe trumpets the fact that, among many others, Abbott’s plan cites Charles Murray, author of The Bell Curve. But Hoppe doesn’t get around to noting how little Abbott’s plan depends on Murray, or the fact that The Bell Curve isn’t even the work cited in Abbott’s plan until the 10th paragraph of her 12-paragraph story. Prior to that, Hoppe brings up every single problem that the Abbott campaign has had, and magnifies them. Ted Nugent comes up. Wendy Davis’ equal pay gambit comes up. Then Hoppe gets around to mentioning that Abbott’s plan cites Murray in a mere footnote.

Abbott’s reference to Murray was a footnote. The GOP nominee for governor’s plan talks about funding early education programs, but only those that meet certain gold standards. Abbott also says that universal pre-K education would be a “waste” and state money should be reserved for programs whose success can be measured.

Abbott cited Murray’s book Real Education when he stated, “Family background has the most decisive effect on student achievement, contributing to a large performance gap between children from economically disadvantaged families and those from middle class homes.”

Murray is far from the only person out there saying that family background has a lot to do with academic achievement. It’s conventional wisdom and common sense.

The fact that the banal citation comes in a mere footnote does not slow the Democrat attackers down at all. Wendy Davis’ new Harry Reid-alum hatchet man, Zac Petkanas, twists Hoppe’s already twisted story.

It is not the “Charles Murray education plan,” anymore than the Koch brothers are hiding behind every conservative organization and effort, as Reid himself is fond of saying. His tweet makes it clear that Petkanas is no more honest than his old boss, and they’re both about as dishonest as it’s possible to be in politics. Petkanas has taken Hoppe’s story and run with it. So has Texas Democrat strategist Colin Strobel.

Strobel tweeted that at Texas press man Scott Braddock and Petkanas himself. Neither bothered to correct him. Braddock called Petkanas’ initial tweet “Aggressive.”

But later today, re-tweeted this.

That’s true — it is intellectually dishonest, and just plain old dishonest, to characterize Abbott’s plan as such. Hoppe’s initial story is quite distorted and unfair. Turning that story into Petkanas’ ridiculous attack moves that story even farther into bold-faced lie territory. Then Strobel the Dem strategist just piles on with the racial smear.

Strobel’s overreach is also more than a little ironic, coming from anyone associated with the party of “white primaries,” as the Texas Democratic Party used to run things. If there are hoods and robes stashed away anywhere in Texas, they’re more likely to be found in the forgotten closets of the Democrats’ old headquarters than anywhere else.

It’s not intellectually dishonest, or any other kind of dishonest, to point that out. It’s just a fact.