The progressive cause lost one of its very best and brightest yesterday, as Molly Ivins succumbed to cancer.
She was really my kinda gal: her heart was always with the common man and the progressive cause, but her trenchant critiques and her rapier wit cut the Left as easily as the Right.
She was nobody’s fool. She could boil endless layers of Beltway gobbledegookdown to straight and simple talk without even trying, and she could depants a Texas politician in a New York minute with a single well-turned phrase. I lost count of the times I breathed an explosive sigh of relief after reading some of those phrases, as if she had taken a huge burden off of me by speaking the straight and simple truth when all around was confusion and noise.
But maybe more importantly, her aim was true. I haven’t done a count, but having read her over the years, I think the record would show that she was right on the money most of the time.
She had so many brilliant quotes, it’s impossible to choose one carefully, so here’s one more or less selected at random:
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.
She is also the one who coined the President’s nicknames of “Dubya” and “Shrub.”
I won’t try to tell her story here–there are hundreds to choose from. But if you aren’t familiar with her work, I encourage you to take a look at her thousands of articles and her many books. Or maybe you’d like to check out the half-dozen blogs in which I featured her work.
She was an American treasure. The only other person I can think of who can hold a candle to her unabashed progressiveness, and her plainspoken, incisive wit, is Jim Hightower…and I pray for his good health.
I’ll be missing you, Molly. Missing ya huge. Nobody did it better.
Letting her have the last word, then, here’s her last column.
Molly Ivins: Stand Up Against the ‘Surge’
Posted on Jan 11, 2007
By Molly Ivins
The purpose of this old-fashioned newspaper crusade to stop the war is not to make George W. Bush look like the dumbest president ever. People have done dumber things. What were they thinking when they bought into the Bay of Pigs fiasco? How dumb was the Egypt-Suez war? How massively stupid was the entire war in Vietnam? Even at that, the challenge with this misbegotten adventure is that we simply cannot let it continue.
It is not a matter of whether we will lose or we are losing. We have lost. Gen. John P. Abizaid, until recently the senior commander in the Middle East, insists that the answer to our problems there is not military. “You have to internationalize the problem. You have to attack it diplomatically, geo-strategically,” he said.
His assessment is supported by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior American commander in Iraq, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who only recommend releasing forces with a clear definition of the goals for the additional troops.
Bush’s call for a “surge” or “escalation” also goes against the Iraq Study Group. Talk is that the White House has planned to do anything but what the group suggested after months of investigation and proposals based on much broader strategic implications.
About the only politician out there besides Bush actively calling for a surge is Sen. John McCain. In a recent opinion piece, he wrote: “The presence of additional coalition forces would allow the Iraqi government to do what it cannot accomplish today on its own—impose its rule throughout the country. … By surging troops and bringing security to Baghdad and other areas, we will give the Iraqis the best possible chance to succeed.” But with all due respect to the senator from Arizona, that ship has long since sailed.
A surge is not acceptable to the people in this country—we have voted overwhelmingly against this war in polls (about 80 percent of the public is against escalation, and a recent Military Times poll shows only 38 percent of active military want more troops sent) and at the polls. We know this is wrong. The people understand, the people have the right to make this decision, and the people have the obligation to make sure our will is implemented.
Congress must work for the people in the resolution of this fiasco. Ted Kennedy’s proposal to control the money and tighten oversight is a welcome first step. And if Republicans want to continue to rubber-stamp this administration’s idiotic “plans” and go against the will of the people, they should be thrown out as soon as possible, to join their recent colleagues.
Anyone who wants to talk knowledgably about our Iraq misadventure should pick up Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s “Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone.” It’s like reading a horror novel. You just want to put your face down and moan: How could we have let this happen? How could we have been so stupid?
As The Washington Post’s review notes, Chandrasekaran’s book “methodically documents the baffling ineptitude that dominated U.S. attempts to influence Iraq’s fiendish politics, rebuild the electrical grid, privatize the economy, run the oil industry, recruit expert staff or instill a modicum of normalcy to the lives of Iraqis.”
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 Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, “Stop it, now!”
Copyright 2007 Creators Syndicate Inc.