Friday, February 2, 2007

More on Molly

From an excellent post by Kevin Hayden:

If you ever heard her speak, while her wit was sharp as steel, her delivery and voice had the grace of silk. It’s been said that ‘diplomacy is when someone tells you to “Go to hell” and makes it sound like an enjoyable place to visit.’ Molly was no diplomat, but face-to-face in a debate, I’m sure her opponents felt like they’d just gotten beat up by Audrey Hepburn or Shirley Temple.

Consider what she wrote in September, the same month her friend Ann Richards also fell to
the only foe that ever defeated Molly.

The earthy Texas humor in her writing gave way to an exquisite grace that was utterly disarming.
Listen to her speak of Tom Delay, to understand what I mean about the grace in the way she spoke.

Teens develop mad crushes on rock stars and actors. I spent much of my adult life mad about Molly. It didn’t matter that she was tall and large and fit no conventional definition of beautiful. Because when she smiled, nobody smiled wider. She was, to me, the greatest columnist that ever lived. I will miss her.

My condolences to her family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, employers, every liberal in America, to Texas, to America itself and to the world.

If anything, I’m sure Molly would be about laughter now, not sadness. And encouraging us to fight on in her stead.

Sure, I’m sad, but there’s no time to wallow. In her honor, go needle a Republican. Then let’s go Chimpeach the Shrub.

A few choice selections from her NYT obituary:

After Patrick J. Buchanan, as a conservative candidate for president, declared at the 1992 Republican National Convention that America was engaged in a cultural war, she said his speech “probably sounded better in the original German.”

Her subject was Texas. To her, the Great State, as she called it, was “reactionary, cantankerous and hilarious,” and its legislature was “reporter heaven.” When the legislature was set to convene, she warned her readers: “Every village is about to lose its idiot.”

Her Texas upbringing made her something of an expert on the Bush family. She viewed President
George H.W. Bush benignly. (“Real Texans do not use the word ‘summer’ as a verb,” she wrote.)

In 1976, her writing, which she said was often fueled by “truly impressive amounts of beer,” landed her a job at The New York Times. She cut an unusual figure in The Times newsroom, wearing blue jeans, going barefoot and bringing in her dog, whose name was an expletive.

She quit The Times in 1982 after The Dallas Times Herald offered to make her a columnist. She took the job even though she loathed Dallas, once describing it as the kind of town “that would have rooted for Goliath to beat David.”

But the paper, she said, promised to let her write whatever she wanted. When she declared of a congressman, “If his I.Q. slips any lower, we’ll have to water him twice a day,” many readers were appalled, and several advertisers boycotted the paper. In her defense, her editors rented billboards that read: “Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She?” The slogan became the title of the first of her six books.

Ms. Ivins learned she had breast cancer in 1999 and was typically unvarnished in describing her treatments. “First they mutilate you; then they poison you; then they burn you,” she wrote. “I have been on blind dates better than that.”

But she continued to write her columns and continued to write and raise money for The Observer.

Indeed, rarely has a reporter so embodied the ethos of her publication. On the paper’s 50th anniversary in 2004, she wrote: “This is where you can tell the truth without the bark on it, laugh at anyone who is ridiculous, and go after the bad guys with all the energy you have.”

Texas will never be as great as it was with you in it.

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