Thursday, February 01, 2007

Molly Ivins

The Hill notes with deep sadness the passing yesterday of Molly Ivins, one of America's greatest liberal columnists, at age 62. She had been battling breast cancer in recent years, and suffered a recurrence of the disease last November.

Molly Ivins was one of the wittiest political columnists ever to wield a pen. She cast her barbs at Democrats and Republicans alike, although as a self-confessed "bleeding-heart liberal", she took her best shots at the conservative side of the aisle. She took great delight in describing the foibles of Texas politics, and poked fun at the assortment of characters who run that amazing state. She tried to warn us about George W. Bush, whom she nicknamed "Shrub". Over the years, she also served up plenty of incisive analysis of everything from Capitol Hill corruption to the war in Iraq.

Ivins was a liberal who sincerely cared about average Americans. Her down-home style made her one of the few genuinely progressive political columnists to win a national following. Especially before the Internet era, Ivins was almost the only unabashedly left-wing voice heard by millions of small-town Americans who didn't subscribe to magazines like The Nation or In These Times.

Ivins was ultimately a defender of classic American values. This talented writer knew that there were some words she couldn't improve upon:

We Americans are heirs to the most magnificent political legacy any people has ever created. There are no new words better than the old words used to define that legacy at the beginning:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men - and women - are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty anfd the pursuit of happiness. We believe that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. We believe that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it."

Molly Ivins spent her adult life championing those rights and beliefs for average Americans. The last words of her Nothin' But Good Times Ahead provide a fitting epitaph:

So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.

Molly Ivins' friends at The Texas Observer have put together a tribute to her. Also, Jurassicpork at Welcome To Pottersville has assembled an impressive collection of Ivins links so that I don't have to go through the trouble of doing so.