Molly Ivins, who died too soon, published her last column a few weeks ago. Headlined “Stand Up Against the Surge,” it was a sober, even solemn commentary without so much as a hint of the satirical wit for which she was famous. She called it part of an “old-fashioned newspaper crusade to stop the war.”
But Ivins wouldn’t be Ivins if her thoughts weren’t ripe with a sense of the ridiculous. She loved to skewer the President With His Head Up His Ass as often as possible. For good reason. (See The Molly Ivins Touch.) Her next-to-last column, “Iraq Exit is Up to Us,” was more typical of her downhome style. “The president of the United States does not have the sense God gave a duck — so it’s up to us,” it began. “You and me, Bubba.”
There are many tributes to Ivins being published. Here are two at truthdig with a great photo of her. The headline on her obituary in Mother Jones, “Death of a Hellraiser: Mourn the dead, fight like hell for the living,” says what’s needed. Or as she concluded in her last column:
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.
Here’s a video interview with Ivins from July, 2004, when her last book was published. Click the link. There’s also a transcript.
Postscript: My staff of thousands should have paid more attention. Whitney Balliett has also died. Doug Ramsey — whose Rifftides blog on jazz I love to read — waved good-bye with a note of appreciation that had, as usual, just the right touch.
PPS: I just got around to reading “Missing Molly Ivins,” (this morning’s, Feb. 2, Friday column) by Paul Krugman. It’s too good to keep locked behind the NYT subscription wall. He writes:
I’ve been going through Molly’s columns from 2002 and 2003, the period when most of the wise men of the press cheered as Our Leader took us to war on false pretenses, then dismissed as “Bush haters” anyone who complained about the absence of W.M.D. or warned that the victory celebrations were premature. Here are a few selections:
Nov. 19, 2002: “The greatest risk for us in invading Iraq is probably not war itself, so much as: What happens after we win? … There is a batty degree of triumphalism loose in this country right now.”
Jan. 16, 2003: “I assume we can defeat Hussein without great cost to our side (God forgive me if that is hubris). The problem is what happens after we win. The country is 20 percent Kurd, 20 percent Sunni and 60 percent Shiite. Can you say, ‘Horrible three-way civil war?’ ”
July 14, 2003: “I opposed the war in Iraq because I thought it would lead to the peace from hell, but I’d rather not see my prediction come true and I don’t think we have much time left to avert it. That the occupation is not going well is apparent to everyone but Donald Rumsfeld. … We don’t need people with credentials as right-wing ideologues and corporate privatizers — we need people who know how to fix water and power plants.”
Oct. 7, 2003: “Good thing we won the war, because the peace sure looks like a quagmire. …
“I’ve got an even-money bet out that says more Americans will be killed in the peace than in the war, and more Iraqis will be killed by Americans in the peace than in the war. Not the first time I’ve had a bet out that I hoped I’d lose.”
So Molly Ivins — who didn’t mingle with the great and famous, didn’t have sources high in the administration, and never claimed special expertise on national security or the Middle East — got almost everything right. Meanwhile, how did those who did have all those credentials do?
With very few exceptions, they got everything wrong. They bought the obviously cooked case for war — or found their own reasons to endorse the invasion. They didn’t see the folly of the venture, which was almost as obvious in prospect as it is with the benefit of hindsight. And they took years to realize that everything we were being told about progress in Iraq was a lie.
Was Molly smarter than all the experts? No, she was just braver. The administration’s exploitation of 9/11 created an environment in which it took a lot of courage to see and say the obvious.
Molly had that courage; not enough others can say the same.
That’s just part of what Krugman had to say. truthout is likely to break the subscription lock and post the entire column tomorrow. So go there for it.