Friday, February 02, 2007

Molly Ivins Can’t Die, Can She?

The following was emailed to me by a friend. It’s a tribute written by her column editor. In the Feb 1, L.A. Times obit, are two observations: One by Lewis Lapham, editor emeritus of Harper’s magazine, “She reminds us that dissent is what rescues democracy from a quite death behind closed doors.” And PBS news anchor Jim Lehrer: “her targets ‘are the hides and egos of just about everybody in the politics and gutters of today. Her language is that smooth whiplash thing called Texan Sharp, of which Molly is a laureate.’” Hers is one sharp, funny voice that will be greatly missed.

Goodbye, Molly

Anthony Zurcher
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
(01-31) 18:51 PST -- MOLLY IVINS is gone, and her words will never grace these pages again - for this, we will mourn. But Molly wasn't the type of woman who would want us to grieve. More likely, she'd say something like, "Hang in there, keep fightin' for freedom, raise more hell, and don't forget to laugh, too."
If there was one thing Molly wanted us to understand, it is that the world of politics is absurd. Because we can't cry, we might as well laugh. And in case we ever forgot, Molly would remind us in her own unique style.
Shortly after becoming editor of Molly's syndicated column, I learned one of my most important jobs was to tell her newspaper clients that, yes, Molly meant to write it that way. We called her linguistic peculiarities "Molly-isms." Administration officials were "Bushies," government was in fact spelled "guvment," business was "bidness." And if someone was "madder than a peach orchard boar," well, he was quite mad indeed.
Of course, having grown up in Texas, all of this made sense to me. But to newspaper editors in Seattle, Chicago, Detroit and beyond -- Yankee land, as Molly would say -- her folksy language could be a mystery. "That's just Molly being Molly," I would explain and leave it at that.
But there was more to Molly Ivins than insightful political commentary packaged in an aw-shucks Southern charm. In the coming days, much will be made of Molly's contributions to the liberal cause, how important she was as an authentic female voice on opinion pages across the country, her passionate and eloquent defense of the poorest and the weakest among us against the corruption of the most powerful, and the joy she took in celebrating the uniqueness of American culture -- and all of this is true. But more than that, Molly Ivins was a woman who loved and cared deeply for the world around her. And her warm and generous spirit was apparent in all her words and deeds.
Molly's work was truly her passion. She would regularly turn down lucrative speaking engagements to give rally-the-troops speeches at liberalism's loneliest outposts. And when she did rub elbows with the highfalutin' well-to-do, the encounter would invariable end up as comedic grist for future columns.
For a woman who made a profession of offering her opinion to others, Molly was remarkably humble. She was known for hosting unforgettable parties at her Austin home, which would feature rollicking political discussions, and impromptu poetry recitals and satirical songs. At one such event, I noticed her dining table was littered with various awards and distinguished speaker plaques, put to use as trivets for steaming plates of tamales, chili and fajita meat. When I called this to her attention, Molly matter-of-factly replied, "Well, what else am I going to do with 'em?"
Perhaps the most astounding aspect of Molly's life is the love she engendered from her legions of fans. If Molly missed a column for any reason, her newspapers would hear about it the next day. As word of Molly's illness spread, the letters, cards, e-mails and gifts poured in.
Even as Molly fought her last battle with cancer, she continued to make public appearances. When she was too weak to write, she dictated her final two columns. Although her body was failing, she still had so much to say. Last fall, before an audience at the University of Texas, her voice began as barely a whisper. But as she went on, she drew strength from the standing-room-only crowd until, at the end of the hour, she was forcefully imploring the students to get involved and make a difference. As Molly once wrote, "Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom that you can decide you don't much care for."
For me, Molly's greatest words of wisdom came with three children's books she gave my son when he was born. In her inimitable way, she captured the spirit of each in one-sentence inscriptions. In "Alice in Wonderland," she offered, "Here's to six impossible things before breakfast." For "The Wind in the Willows," it was, "May you have Toad's zest for life." And in "The Little Prince," she wrote, "May your heart always see clearly."
Like the Little Prince, Molly Ivins has left us for a journey of her own. But while she was here, her heart never failed to see clear and true -- and for that, we can all be grateful.
Creators Syndicate, Inc.
Anthony Zurcher, a Creators Syndicate editor based in Austin, Texas, has been Molly Ivins' editor and friend for many years.


Ron said...

"She was known for hosting unforgettable parties at her Austin home..."

Oh, to have attended one of those parties...

"I noticed her dining table was littered with various awards and distinguished speaker plaques, put to use as trivets for steaming plates of tamales, chili and fajita meat. When I called this to her attention, Molly matter-of-factly replied, "Well, what else am I going to do with 'em?" "

Great, just great.

Amy Goodman, on her radio show yesterday, rebroadcast an interview she did with Ivins. It's excellent. Amy's clean, calm and fluid interviewing style, and Molly's wit is so quick. It seems like she scripted those great lines, but they're coming right off the top of her head:

AMY GOODMAN: John Kerry, John Edwards, your thoughts?

MOLLY IVINS: Well, of course, John Kerry is a boring stiff. He's a boring stiff with intelligence. He’s a boring stiff with gravitas. He’s a boring stiff with experience. But he's still a boring stiff.

Without hesitation, she rips that off. So smart. So funny.

Here's the link to the interview. There's the text of the interview, but there's also an audio link. I highly recommend listening to the audio link so you can hear that Texas drawl.

I don't normally make a distinction about gender in much, because I don't care, good is good, but if you want to hear two women at the top of their game, listen to that interview.

Nit Picker said...

I am sure that Ann Calhoun and Crawdaddy would find that anything said by Molly Ivans, Amy Goodman, Al Franken, and other far left commentators would be right on mark. She was great at poking fun and bringing forth thought against established conservitave ideals and thinking. However, like Ann and Crawdad, never brought forth any hard solutions: She was a nit picker, far removed from centrist thinking. While she brought great joy to those who follow "airhead america" and, she was laughed at more than laughed with. In any case she will be missed. I do not think 2% of the American population ever followed her. A shame. She was very good, but very misguided.

Anonymous said...

Nit Picker:

Are you "crapkiller"? sure sounds like it. Go away.

*PG-13 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thank you, 13. Couldn't have said it better myself. Why is it that some nit picky people can't stop being critical even when someone DIES?

*PG-13 said...

nit picker said ....

nit picker? My, how appropriate.

nit picker said > She was a nit picker, ...

One nit picker calling another nit picker a nit picker. Can't pick much finer nit than that. Still, Molly would have appreciated your participation. And your kind words. (cough, cough) Especially today.

> She was great at poking fun and bringing forth thought against established conservitave ideals and thinking.

Well, yes, that was her schtick. Which, as you note, she did very, very, very well. Creatively, with much style, wit and intelligence. Even those she poked admitted as much. AND they are ALL lining up today to honor her. 'cept you of course. Gotta keep protecting those "established conservitave ideals and thinking" Where, therein, may lie the problem - established ideals and thinking - regardless of the lean - too often work against each other.

> A shame. She was very good, but very misguided.

Methinks I prefer misguided with humor than misguided with sanctimonious righteousness. But that's just me.

Anonymous said...

job opening in texas, only nit-picky repetitive single-minded tunnel opinionated columnists need apply - a bee-hive to go with those socks! - sounds like a good gig

Anonymous said...

Nit Picker you dimwit!!! I pretty much don't agree with anything Ann has to say, and certainly not Ron, but who in their right mind could not appreciate the wit and brilliance of Molly Ivins. My favorite quote attributed to her:

"The first rule of holes: when you're in one, stop digging."

Pretty sound advice for Los Osos. And a Bush hater to boot!!! God I'll miss her.

Anonymous said...

A man walked into a very high-tech bar. As he sat down on a stool he noticed that the bartender was a robot.

The robot clicked to attention and asked, "Sir, what will you have?"

The man thought a moment then replied, "A martini please."

The robot clicked a couple of times and mixed the best martini the man had ever had.

The robot then asked, "Sir, what is your IQ?"

The man answered "Oh, about 164."

The robot then proceeded to discuss the 'theory of relativity', 'inter-stellar space travel', 'the latest medical breakthroughs, the Los Osos sewer design for the Tri-W site etc.......

The man was most impressed. He left the bar but thought he would try a different tact. He returned and took a seat.

Again the robot clicked and asked what he would have.

"A Martini please." Again it was superb. The robot again asked "What is your IQ sir?"

This time the man answered , "Oh about 100."

So the robot started discussing NASCAR racing, the latest basketball scores, and what to expect the Dodgers to do this week end.

The guy had to try it one more time. So he left, returned and took a stool...

Again a martini, and the question, What is your IQ?"

This time the man drawled & said "Uh... bout 50".

The robot clicked then leaned close and very slowly asked,

"A-r-e......y-o-u-r.......p-e-o-p-l-e.......g-o-i-n-g.......t-o ...... n-o-m-i-n-a-t-e.......H-i-l-l-a-r-y-?????

Anonymous said...

Dumb joke. Let Molly rest in peace.

Mike Green said...

I admire great writers more than almost anybody. RIP Molly, Thanks

Anonymous said...

RIP Molly...though I am sure it is rather hot down there.

Churadogs said...

Anonymous sez:"Anonymous said...
RIP Molly...though I am sure it is rather hot down there."

What a perfect example of the kind of ugliness of spirit that Molly fought against her whole life. Interestingly, fellow columnist, Cal Thomas, her philosophical exact opposite, had kind words to say about her. But not this "anonymous" poster.

Anonymous said...

She was just another ultra liberal who just wanted to make noise for noise sake.


Anonymous said...

You are disgusting.

Anonymous said...


And your such a pillar of kindness and googwwill that you feel you have the right to say others have an ugly spirit? Sheesh!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I thought her writings were disgusting.

Churadogs said...

Anon sez:"She was just another ultra liberal who just wanted to make noise for noise sake. "

Speaking of "spirit," here's Cal Thomas, from the L.A. Times obit: "Pundits in the opposite politcal camp respected her, such as conservative columnist Cal thomas. He once told the Fort worth Star-Telegram that Ivins "makes us pay attention. I think she argues her position very well. Obviously, she is wrong all the time, but she'd say the same about me."

That's Cal Thomas' conservative "sprit." Then there's Anon's "spirit." Does anyone see the difference?

Anonymous said...


You're a pompous ass.

Anonymous said...

The difference is glaringly obvious. Thank you again Ann for a lovely piece about Molly Ivins.