Thursday, February 1

Good Golly (I'll) Miss Molly

Syndicated political columnist Molly Ivins died of breast cancer Wednesday evening at her home in Austin. She was 62 years old, and had much, much more to give this world. She remained cheerful despite Texas politics. She emphasized the more hilarious aspects of both state and national government, and consequently never had to write fiction. She said, "Good thing we've still got politics - finest form of free entertainment ever invented."

Gark Note: Molly Ivins was the first person who made me sit up and pay attention to politics (albeit, it was Texas politics--a much more cynical brand than practiced in Iowa)--she reviled the politics of fear that is practiced these days. I will personally miss her greatly. Below are some Molly Ivins quotes that I think give you a flavor of what she was made of.

"Love those Iowa results. Nothing better than a huge political scrum where the front-runner stumbles, the guy everyone wrote off for dead six weeks ago comes roaring back, an unknown emerges, an old war-horse drops out -- a wonderful scenario. Let's hear it for upset, confusion and the conventional wisdom with egg on its face. A banana cream pie right in the kisser for everyone who pretends they know how a political race will turn out. Happy days. Ain't democracy grand?" 1/22/2004

"I'm sorry to say (cancer) can kill you but it doesn't make you a better person," she told the San Antonio Express-News in September 2006, the same month cancer claimed her friend former Gov. Ann Richards.

"If you think his daddy had trouble with 'the vision thing,' wait'll you meet this one," Ivins on George W. Bush in "The Progressive," June 1999.

"If left to my own devices, I'd spend all my time pointing out that he's weaker than bus-station chili," on Bill Clinton, from the introduction to You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You

"Naturally, when it comes to voting, we in Texas are accustomed to discerning that fine hair's-breadth worth of difference that makes one hopeless dipstick slightly less awful than the other. But it does raise the question: Why bother?", in a 2002 column about a California political race.

"The poor man who is currently our president has reached such a point of befuddlement that he thinks stem cell research is the same as taking human lives, but that 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians are progress toward democracy," from a July 2006 column urging commentator Bill Moyers to run for president.

"Many people did not care for Pat Buchanan's speech; it probably sounded better in the original German," Ivins in September 1992, commenting on the one-time presidential hopeful's speech to the Republican National Convention.

"I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults," from a March 1992 column.

"I love Texas, but it is a nasty old rawhide mother in the way it bears down on the people who have the fewest defenses," Ivins wrote in September 2002.

"....our very own dreaded Legislature is almost upon us. Jan. 9 and they'll all be here, leaving many a village without its idiot," from a December 2000 column.

"Any nation that can survive what we have lately in the way of government, is on the high road to permanent glory."

"As they say around the Texas Legislature, if you can't drink their whiskey, screw their women, take their money, and vote against 'em anyway, you don't belong in office."

"In Texas, we do not hold high expectations for the governor's office; it's mostly been occupied by crooks, dorks and the comatose."

"Being slightly paranoid is like being slightly pregnant - it tends to get worse."

"It's hard to argue against cynics - they always sound smarter than optimists because they have so much evidence on their side."

"It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America."

"Satire is traditionally the weapon of the powerless against the powerful. I only aim at the powerful. When satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel - it's vulgar."

"I believe in practicing prudence at least once every two or three years."

"During a recent panel on the numerous failures of American journalism, I proposed that almost all stories about government should begin: 'Look out! They're about to smack you around again!'"

"The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion."

"What is a teenager in San Francisco to rebel against, for pity's sake? Their parents are all so busy trying to be non-judgmental, it's no wonder they take to dyeing their hair green."

"Half of this administration in under average. The other half is under indictment."

"You only have two other options. You can cry. And you can throw up. And both of those are bad for you."

(On Texas) "We consistently rank near the bottom by every measure of social service, education, and quality of life (leading to one of our state mottoes, "Thank God for Mississippi")." Molly Ivins, in Who Let The Dogs In? (2004)

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