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Happy trails, Big Red

I first discovered Molly Ivins about 18 or so years ago, and loved her writing. I didn't agree with much of her politics, but my word, was she a hell of a writer. And every now and then, she would just absolutely nail a topic.

A few examples I recall from those days:

1) When the Branch Davidians barricaded themselves in their compound and refused to come out, triggering a standoff that lasted 51 days until FBI and BATF agents stiormed it -- and the consequent fire killed nearly all within. During the endless days of waiting, Ivins had a suggestion that I thought had a lot of merit: why not simply put up a big wall around the compound, declare it a prison, and simply wait out the "inmates?"

2) She once described the first President Bush's speech patterns as sounding like (and I'm probably hopelessly mangling her brilliant prose) "he wrestles with a sentence, going round and round, until he exhaustedly reaches the end and they call it a draw at the period."

3) Her coverage of the Texas Legislature ("The Lege") was, well, legendary. At one point, they were debating criminalizing sodomy. :

"Say, Billy, about this here bill of yours. Are you saying that if I am in bed with my lawful wedded wife and I should happen to mis-aim and end up in the wrong place, we should go to jail?"

"Yes, I am. It's a sin and a crime against God and Nature."

So the men shook hands and parted. But before they could get far, another legislator demanded the Sergeant At Arms reprimand them, because they had just made it illegal for a prick to touch an asshole.

She also had Pat Buchanan's number.

After Buchanan's fiery speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention, she acidly observed that it "probably sounded better in the original German." And at a National Press Club address I heard on NPR once, she pointed out something that I'd never quite caught before: that conservative humor, at its worst, tends to denigrate and run down the weak and defenseless. Buchanan is an ideal exemplar of that tendency, and it's a lesson that I've taken to heart: whenever I attempt to write something political and humorous, I keep in mind just who I'm attempting to lampoon.

No, I didn't agree with much of her politics, nor her assessment of President Bush in particular, but she was a hell of a woman, a hell of a fighter, and she will be sorely missed.

She was one of a kind -- unfortunately.

Update: a truly superb collection of Ivins quotes (including a paraphrased summary of the sodomy story above) can be found here.

Comments (10)

Can't agree with you, Jay. ... (Below threshold)

Can't agree with you, Jay. I was force-fed her crap when the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune regularly soiled their editorial pages with her vomit a few years back. She was a bitter, rancid, one-dimensional hack who thought calling Dubya "Shrub" qualified her for seating at the Algonquin Round Table. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Good assessment, cmd, but y... (Below threshold)

Good assessment, cmd, but you left out 'partisan'. Molly Ivins was a true yellow-dog Democrat who really would have voted for the Devil himself if he were running on the Democratic ticket. One could simply summarize her philosophy and writing as "Republican - bad; Democrat - good".

She may be missed by others, but not by me. Surely one can find others more worthy to mourn.

she pointed out somethin... (Below threshold)

she pointed out something that I'd never quite caught before: that conservative humor, at its worst, tends to denigrate and run down the weak and defenseless.

You must be joking. Have you heard of Whoopi or Robin or (name your favotite comedian here)?

I did leave out partisan, a... (Below threshold)

I did leave out partisan, and for a reason. It does come down to chacun a son gout, Wally. When Ann Coulter shuffles off this mortal coil, I'll miss her. I love her red meat evisceration of the left, so "Democrats good - Republicans bad" writing (or the converse) I can live with. What frosted me about Ivins was her faux-folksy writing, her whole "gawrsh, I'm just a-sittin' here with muh coffee, and lemme tell yuh about Shrub. He's all hat an' no cattle, like we say here in Texas. . ." Please. You hate Bush. You're a moonbat. We get it. Get over yourself.

"that conservative humor, a... (Below threshold)
Dan S:

"that conservative humor, at its worst, tends to denigrate and run down the weak and defenseless. "

Darn, this means I have to stop mocking reporters, doesn't it? Darn, darn, darn!

cmd, it sounds like your ac... (Below threshold)
Ric Locke:

cmd, it sounds like your acquaintance with Molly Ivins was relatively recent. That's a pity.

Something changed, something profound, and what had been merciless biting satire that could leave its victims laughing helplessly as the barbs went in turned to simple acid meanness, cruelty for the sake of cruelty. At the same time her ability to see any defect or blemish in her own side vanished completely. It was not always so, and I hope the inevitable retrospectives concentrate mainly on her earlier years, when she was funny rather than cleverly shrewish.


Thanks, Jay. Excellent pos... (Below threshold)

Thanks, Jay. Excellent post. I used to enjoy reading Molly's articles. She'll be missed.

Molly Ivan was a mean, spit... (Below threshold)

Molly Ivan was a mean, spiteful human being who became increasing bitter as her drug addiction took over complete control of her life. I always found it hilarious as she ridiculed people like Rush Limbaugh as her own drug habit escalated.

You might be curiously amused about her opinions of the various women who's only "crime" was to attract the eye of that well known hound-dog and sexual predator, B.J. Bill. There was no bigger apologist for that serial philanderer. Look it up.

She even admitted in a lucid moment that if she couldn't stop smoking (3 pack a day), she would die young.

Well, it looks like Molly finally got something right.

Molly Ivins was 100 percent... (Below threshold)

Molly Ivins was 100 percent snark.

That takes little talent.

Ivins bitterly hated George... (Below threshold)

Ivins bitterly hated George W. Bush for defeating her gal pal Anne 'Ma' Richards for the governorship of Texas. I'm convinced this is the reason for her obsession with 'Shrub'.






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