Today is Molly Ivins’s birthday, and when we finally make this a more just world, it will become a national holiday. As it is, we’ll keep celebrating it right here at Wonkette and do what we can to keep alive the spirit of Texas’s greatest contribution to American humor and political commentary. She’d have been 73 today, and while we don’t believe in an afterlife, we sure understand the impulse, because it’s a goddamned shame Molly missed the last election, which would have left her whomperjawed. If someday we wake up in an Elysian field where she and Ann Richards are drinking and cutting loose with profane observations on doings back on Earth, we’ll be very happy to have been wrong.
We’re less sure about wishing she were here to help us get through the term of President Weirdhair, though. God knows we could use her, but we’re unclear on the morality of asking a soul to exchange the peace of the grave for a republic being torn apart by a man who makes Shrub Bush look statesmanlike by comparison. But she might get a kick out of it.
We are not inclined to think the universe has a proper sense of fun or fairness, given the simple fact that we lost Gilda Radner at 42 and Molly Ivins at 62, while Henry Kissinger still walks this earth at the age of 94 and has so far escaped prosecution for war crimes. And let’s all just say one more time, together, “Fuck cancer.”
There’s never a bad time to quote Molly Ivins, so let’s light some birthday candles, have some of those cakes we like, and remember a woman with a unique talent for looking at public idiocy, holding it up to the light, and blowing it to rags and atoms with a few words:
- All anyone needs to enjoy the state legislature is a strong stomach and a complete insensitivity to the needs of the people. As long as you don’t think about what that peculiar body should be doing and what it actually is doing to the quality of life in Texas, then it’s all marvelous fun.
- There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity — like what Garrison Keillor does. The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule — that’s what I do. 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.
- It’s hard to argue against cynics — they always sound smarter than optimists because they have so much evidence on their side.
- On a personal note: I have contracted an outstanding case of breast cancer, from which I intend to recover. I don’t need get-well cards, but I would like the beloved women readers to do something for me: Go. Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Done.
- I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point — race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.
- 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?Oh, it’s just that your life is at stake.
- I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn’t actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.
- [Molly on then-President Ronald Reagan:] If he gets even more sedate, we will have to water him twice a week.
- [On Bill Clinton, Jesse Helms, and the alleged “incivility” of the former toward the latter:] The lead on two TV networks was that he had waxed somewhat sarcastic on the subject of Sen. Jesse Helms. Anyone who can limit his reaction to Helms to mild sarcasm deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. That poisonous old hate sow, suckling all the little hate pigs — if ignorance is bliss, that man must be ecstatic (My own civility has distinct limits).
- [On Pat Buchanan’s “culture war” speech at the 1992 GOP convention:] Many people did not care for Pat Buchanan’s speech; it probably sounded better in the original German.
- Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.
- 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.
- 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. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we’re for them and trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets to protest Bush’s proposed surge. If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on January 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, “Stop it, now!” [from her final column]
Can you imagine what Molly would do with characters like Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer, or that flash in the pan Anthony Scaramucci? Molly might not have found the solution to the problem of Donald Trump, but oh, lord, would she have gotten no end of brilliant columns out of him. And maybe delirium tremens.
This week in particular, when too much of her beloved Texas is under water, we imagine she’d be equal parts moved by the straightforward decency of the boat heroes and disgusted unto hilarious mockery by a president who can talk plenty about how great his optics are, while completely forgetting to mention the people who still need rescuing. She’s not here to skewer him, so we all have the duty to point and laugh at the unclothed emperor, for Molly’s sake.
What would Molly say if she were here now? She’d tell us to roll up our sleeves, join with our neighbors, get angry, and get to work on Resisting. She’d be incredibly proud of the Women’s March. She’d remind us we’ve gotten through some damned dark awfulness before, and we have no choice but to push on through the current stupidity and the New Cruelty. She’d remind us that Americans really are better than this bunch of crooks in power. And she’d remind us to laugh, because a well-honed sense of the ridiculous is good for survival.
Our country’s suffering from a Molly Ivins deficit. Go get yourself some Molly Ivins books: We’re fond of her first big bestseller, Molly Ivins Can’t Say That, Can She? as well as the election-year warning that she co-wrote with Lou Dubose, Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush, and the posthumous collection, Molly Ivins: Letters to the Nation.
We’ll close with a favorite: Here’s the first time Yr Dok Zoom — and a lot of us outside of Texas — ever heard of Molly Ivins, her 1986 MacNeill-Lehrer Newshour piece on Texas and its many fine examples of Public Ort, which they rebroadcast as a memorial in 2007. Enjoy:
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