Another Great Voice Quiet

February 1, 2007

This was a voice not so much to listen to for its beauty, but to read or hear for its mordant wit and exposure of hypocrisy and idiocy. Molly Ivins died yesterday, and I’m sad.

She was 62. It was breast cancer, like Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, that other great voice recently quieted. I don’t personally know too many people who’ve died of breast cancer but I do personally know way too many who have had it. I have no idea if these kinds of things actually do anything, but there is a site that claims to support free mammograms if you just click…

Of course that, or even searching for the cure, doesn’t address the real issue of why there is so much of this kind of disease among otherwise healthy people….the poisoning of our world, basically. But I digress. More on this in another post, if I remember.

I have had many an excellent laugh from Molly Ivins, though quite a lot of that laughter rueful. Her invective was not toothless. In fact, with that Texas accent even coming through in her writing, one might not even recognize it as invective. There was a certain generosity in her bitingly funny critique. A generosity that might leave wiggle room for some toadying, power-hungry, narrow-minded greedyguts to excuse their behavior on the grounds of being a complete moron.

Here’s a great paragraph from The Nation’s article about her:

It mattered, a lot, that Molly was writing for papers around the country during the Bush interregnum. She explained to disbelieving Minnesotans and Mainers that, yes, these men really were as mean, as self-serving and as delusional as they seemed. The book that Molly and her pal Lou Dubose wrote about their homeboy-in-chief, Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush (Random House, 2000), was the essential exposé of the man the Supreme Court elected President. And Ivins’s columns tore away any pretense of civility or citizenship erected by the likes of Karl Rove.

The New York Times remembrance ends with these paragraphs:

Ms. Ivins learned she had breast cancer in 1999 and was typically unvarnished in describing her treatments. “First they mutilate you; then they poison you; then they burn you,” she wrote. “I have been on blind dates better than that.”

But she kept writing her columns and kept writing and raising money for The Texas Observer.

Indeed, rarely has a reporter so embodied the ethos of her publication. On the paper’s 50th anniversary in 2004, she wrote: “This is where you can tell the truth without the bark on it, laugh at anyone who is ridiculous, and go after the bad guys with all the energy you have.”


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