Molly Ivins dead at age 62

By |2018-01-15T20:18:53-05:00October 31st, 2017|News|

Molly Ivins, unabashed liberal newspaper columnist and author, died Jan 31, 2007 in her Austin, Texas home. Ivins had battled breast cancer since 1999. She was 62.

A Texas native, Ivins was an expert on Texas politics, which she frequently referred to as “better than a circus.” She was a sharp critic of the current Bush administration and railed against those who abused the public trust by leaving boot marks on the faces of the very people who voted for them.
Gary Cartwright, senior editor at Texas Monthly, wrote in a special tribute to Ivins in The Texas Observer, the liberal paper at which Ivins served as co-editor from 1970 until 1976, “Molly Ivins was an unabashed patriot, and it drove right-wingers nuts. Conservatives somehow got it fixed in their brains that patriotism meant being in lockstep with their ideology, that dissent was treason. Molly made a career of reminding them otherwise, always careful to point out how cute they were when they acted like fools.”
“It’s hard to argue against cynics,” Ivins once said, “they always sound smarter than optimists because they have so much evidence on their side.”
Though Ivins had plenty to be cynical about, especially after George W. was elected, she was not a cynic. Ivins was an optimist who believed this nation could do better. She was a true patriot who believed in her heart and soul that dissent was the best form of patriotism. And dissent she did, often hilariously.
“There are two kinds of humor. One kind that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity,” she said. “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.”
Ivins had no patience for right-wing talking heads. “I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt,” she said. “It doesn’t actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.”
Her barbs against the right-wing elite are legendary. Of Pat Buchanan’s famous 1992 Republican Convention speech – in which he railed against “the amoral idea that gay and lesbian couples should have the same standing in law as married men and women” – Ivins wrote, “It must have sounded better in the original German.”
Ivins saw the Republican adoption of the “gay marriage” debate for the red herring it is. She wrote in a June 5, 2006 column, “Gay marriage, now there’s a crisis. Well, OK, so there isn’t much gay marriage going on here in Texas. None, in fact. First, we made it illegal. Then, we made it unconstitutional. But President Bush is all concerned about it, so I guess we have to alter the U.S. Constitution.”
She pointed out that there are bigger problems Republicans should be worried about. “The Republicans are worried about the flag, gay marriage and the terrible burden of the estate tax on the rich. The rest of us are obviously unnecessarily worried about war, peace, the economy, the environment and civilization. Another reason to vote Republican–they have a shorter list.”
On Nov. 2, 2006, Ivins wrote in a column about the barrage of Republican attack ads on TV, “Who knew so many people had signed up to “promote the homosexual agenda”? I don’t even know what it is. But apparently, you don’t have to sign up to support – you could be part of it and not even know!”
According to Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for Detroit’s Triangle Foundation, “Molly Ivins was a clarion voice for humor and sanity in a world that is frequently sad and crazy. Speaking out against the Bush regime and the idiocy of right wing politics made Molly Ivins one of the most important women in America. Her loss is a loss for America, democracy and a free press.”
Ivins saw politics as a hell of a battle and a hell of a lot of fun. That folks wouldn’t be interested in participating never made much sense to her. “Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom that you can decide you don’t much care for,” she once wrote.
Richard Aregood, former editorial page editor of the Newark Star-Ledger and the Philadelphia Daily News, compared Ivins to “Mark Twain, H.L. Mencken and Will Rogers, American originals who saw things clearly and spoke the truth even more clearly.”
“Because of her, Texas can be proud,” Aregood wrote in the Feb. 1, 2006 Texas Observer tribute. “It produced more than the arrogant cruelties of the Phil Gramms and Dick Armeys, not to mention the Current Occupant. It produced Molly Ivins, by God, and she served to remind every last one of us of the joys of political battle and the absolute necessity of fighting political battles.”
When asked in 2003 what advice she’d give to young people about politics today she said, “Oh, raise hell and have fun!”
It was a philosophy she truly lived by.

About the Author:

D'Anne Witkowski
D'Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.