Truth is stranger than fiction, and the Texas Legislature may be stranger than them all.
On Tuesday night, state Sen. Wendy Davis attempted a herculean 13-hour filibuster to stop the passage of SB5, a bill seeking to ban, among other things, abortion at the 20-week mark. She got 11 hours of the way there and garnered huge support both at the Austin Statehouse and on social media. Yet she was thwarted by some persistent lawmakers, who were so persistent that they violated a midnight deadline — then time-stamped the vote for before midnight (before it was all reversed several hours later).
It was impossible not to think of some of Hollywood’s finest and most ludicrous moments as the drama unfolded. Here are five movies that watching the Davis saga brought to mind.
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“Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” The obvious parallel. Seeking to clear his name, Jimmy Stewart’s Jefferson Smith undertakes a 24-hour filibuster to postpone a vote on an appropriations bill. As with Davis’ attempt, the gambit is a noble failure. But there’s a happy ending when Smith is cleared by a guilt-ridden lawmaker. Ditto for Davis, as the vote is overturned by the lieutenant governor because it came too late.
“Lincoln.” Clever tactics to ensure a humanist set of policies were on display at the Davis filibuster Tuesday night. They were, too, in Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” where the 16th president figured out a variety of procedural and political ways to pass an amendment abolishing slavery. Then there was Tommy Lee Jones' Thaddeus Stevens, a federal lawmaker using Davis-like persistence and oratory to turn Congress his way.
“White House Down.” As the drama was playing out in Austin, Sony Pictures was holding its “White House Down” premiere in New York. OK, so the fiery destruction of our nation’s capital isn't the same thing as the debate over an abortion bill, no matter how consequential. Still the idea of stakes being elevated as a government is thrown into chaos is something that came to mind watching both the film and the legislative live stream. Channing Tatum, your next role is calling.
"Swing Vote." One basically ordinary person with an improbably large degree of influence on our nation’s direction. Many of us rolled our eyes at the absurdity of the premise of Kevin Costner’s 2008 political commentary. But democracy can be a funny thing, as a single mother and lawmaker from Texas proved Tuesday.
“Superman.” What does Richard Donner’s 1970s-era film about Clark Kent have to do with the price of tea in Austin? Well, for one thing, Superman flies backward in time to undo an outcome he didn’t like. And didn't Gov. Rick Perry contemplate doing the same thing to ensure a midnight deadline was met?
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