Very sad to see her pass on….but her sprirt and her humor — and her ability for instanteous smackdown of evildoers, will survive beyond her. Hopefully, she’ll get to lay some smack down on "Shrub" (her gloss for Dubya) on his way down.
The story of the passing of Molly Ivins from the Associated Press today:
AP Photo/HENNY RAY ABRAMS
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Best-selling author and columnist Molly Ivins, the sharp-witted liberal who skewered the political establishment and referred to President Bush as "Shrub," died Wednesday after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 62.
Ivins died at her home while in hospice care, said David Pasztor, managing editor of the Texas Observer, where Ivins was co-editor.
Ivins made a living poking fun at politicians, whether they were in her home state of Texas or the White House. She revealed in early 2006 that she was being treated for breast cancer for the third time.
More than 400 newspapers subscribed to her nationally syndicated column, which combined strong liberal views and populist humor. Ivins’ illness did not seem to hurt her ability to deliver biting one-liners.
"I’m sorry to say (cancer) can kill you, but it doesn’t make you a better person," she said in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News in September, the same month cancer claimed her friend former Gov. Ann Richards.
To Ivins, "liberal" wasn’t an insult term. "Even I felt sorry for Richard Nixon when he left; there’s nothing you can do about being born liberal – fish gotta swim and hearts gotta bleed," she wrote in a column included in her 1998 collection, "You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You."
In a column in mid-January, Ivins urged readers to stand up against Bush’s plan to send more troops to Iraq.
"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war," Ivins wrote in the Jan. 11 column. "We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, ‘Stop it, now!’"
Ivins’ best-selling books included those she co-authored with Lou Dubose about Bush. One was titled "Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush" and another was "BUSHWHACKED: Life in George W. Bush’s America."
Ivins’ jolting satire was directed at people in positions of power.
"The trouble with blaming powerless people is that although it’s not nearly as scary as blaming the powerful, it does miss the point," she wrote in a 1997 column. "Poor people do not shut down factories … Poor people didn’t decide to use ‘contract employees’ because they cost less and don’t get any benefits."
In an Austin speech last year, former President Clinton described Ivins as someone who was "good when she praised me and who was painfully good when she criticized me."
Ivins loved to write about politics and called the Texas Legislature the best free entertainment in Austin.
"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?" she wrote in a 2002 column about a California political race.
Born Mary Tyler Ivins in California, she grew up in Houston. She graduated from Smith College in 1966 and attended Columbia University’s journalism school. She also studied for a year at the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris.
Her first newspaper job was in the complaint department of the Houston Chronicle. She worked her way up at the Chronicle, then went on to the Minneapolis Tribune, becoming the first woman police reporter in the city.
Ivins counted as her highest honors the Minneapolis police force’s decision to name its mascot pig after her and her getting banned from the campus of Texas A&M University, according to a biography on the Creators Syndicate Web site.
In the late 1960s, according to the syndicate, she was assigned to a beat called "Movements for Social Change" and wrote about "angry blacks, radical students, uppity women and a motley assortment of other misfits and troublemakers."
Ivins later became co-editor of The Texas Observer, a liberal Austin-based biweekly publication of politics and literature.
She joined The New York Times in 1976, working first as a political reporter in New York and later as Rocky Mountain bureau chief.
But Ivins’ use of salty language and her habit of going barefoot in the office were too much for the Times, said longtime friend Ben Sargent, editorial cartoonist with the Austin American-Statesman.
"She was just like a force of nature," Sargent said. "She was just always on and sharp and witty and funny and was one of a kind."
Ivins returned to Texas as a columnist for the Dallas Times-Herald in 1982, and after it closed she spent nine years with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In 2001, she went independent and wrote her column for Creators Syndicate.
"She was magical in her writing," said Mike Blackman, a former Star-Telegram executive editor who hired Ivins in 1992. "She could turn a phrase in such a way that a pretty hard-hitting point didn’t hurt so bad."
In 1995, conservative humorist Florence King accused Ivins in "American Enterprise" magazine of plagiarism for failing to properly credit King for several passages in a 1988 article in "Mother Jones." Ivins apologized, saying the omissions were unintentional and pointing out that she credited King elsewhere in the piece.
She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999, and she had a recurrence in 2003. Her latest diagnosis came around Thanksgiving 2005.
Associated Press writers April Castro in Austin and Matt Curry in Dallas contributed to this report.
Although I ultimately became much more radical in my political philosophy than Miss Molly would become, she was one of my first influences in politics as not only a female journalist and a principled liberal/progressive who was unashamed and unafraid to defend and bear that label, but as one of the best political satirist and humorists alive on the face of the earth. From her days at the Texas Observer to her regular columns over at The Progressive magazine, to her regular syndicated columns, she always seemed to combine the perfect mix of passion, anger, humor, and smack….and always in defense of common working people against the inanety of corporate and political powermongers.
Not to mention the fact that Miss Molly was as proud a Texan as ever…even if she ripped their politicians new orfices every day. I’m sure that even at her deathbed she probably was giving a one-finger salute at Dubya with one hand…and the "Hook ’em Horns" salute with the other. Even a Louisianian like me had to respect her loyalty.
There were few like her, and in this age of herd journalism, I fear that there will be fewer to carry on her legacy (well, there’s always Keith Olbermann..if he wasn’t a Cali-bred).
Step right in through the gates, Miss Molly…you’ve done well.
Update: Here’s one of the best examples — relevant to the theme of this blog — where Miss Molly showed her expertise at laying some serious smack on the stupidity of some legislators….this time, on the subject of the inane laws against the possession and sale of…sex toys. (Warning…definitely NOT safe for work or for children.)
The Dildo Diaries (a short documentary about Texas’ anti-sex toy laws featuring Molly Ivins, courtesy YouTube)
Only exception to that excellent smackdown for me: it ain’t just Texas, Miz Molly, that’s full of "dipshits" who put more emphasis on regulating women’s wombs and clits than the regulating the environment or the budget; take a trip further east to Louisiana or Mississippi or Alabama or Georgia with a Pocket Rocket and see how the authorities will respond. They don’t call this (red) neck of the woods "the Bible (Chastity) Belt" for nothing, you know.
Only Linda Ellerbee represents badasssss Texas feminist journalism as well as Molly Ivins did….Please, Goddess, try not to take Linda away before her time.