Friday, February 02, 2007

More Tributes to Molly Ivins

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Two excellent tributes to Molly Ivins today.

The Rude Pundit (h/t Glenn) mourns the loss of another "spiritual parent":

Molly Ivins. Art Buchwald just a couple of weeks ago. Living spiritual parents are getting awfully hard to come by these days.

Just a few paragraphs to remember how eloquently brutal Ivins could be, like this one from her January 21, 1999 column, about what was obviously her least favorite topic, the entire Lewinsky/Clinton tale:

"My other favorite argument is that Clinton mustn't be allowed to 'get away with it.' Get away with what? Did you ever in your life see anyone more caught, more ruthlessly exposed in relentless detail? It is mind-boggling enough that this pathetic, sordid episode is the subject of an impeachment trial; now comes the question of whether the Senate has so lost all sense of seemliness as to bring Monica Lewinsky and Company into the U.S. Senate to tell once more the tawdry tale of the 10 oral encounters that shook the world."

In her writings, Ivins despised those things that were distractions from the real work of government, of doing the work of and for the people of the nation. And the impeachment of Clinton was the right wing engaging in Caligula-like decadence for the sake of itself. Ivins ripped into the conservative machine, only to see it take things to the next level of ignorance and depravity with the Iraq war.

Prescient (and right) as ever, Ivins said in a February 11, 1998 column about the crazed House of Representatives speaking in session: "Next up, several members decide to demand that if we use air strikes against Iraq, we take out Saddam Hussein. In the first place, murdering foreign leaders is not a proper tool of foreign policy, for the sensible reason that you never know what you'll get if you do. One of the most famous hypothetical questions of history is: What if someone had managed to murder Adolf Hitler early on? Suppose someone did, and then the Nazi movement had been taken over by, say, Albert Speer, who was a lot better organized than Hitler?"

Yeah, Molly Ivins was the kind who made you go, "Wish I'd thought of that!" on a regular basis.

Maya Angelou recalls the first time she met Ivins face to face, after years of reading her books and columns:

Years ago there was a fundraising gala for People for the American Way in New York, and Molly Ivins was keynote speaker. I was a loyal collector and serious Ivins reader, but I had not met the author. Another famous journalist, who was to have introduced her, had his flight canceled in a Southern city. Norman Lear, founder of the organization, asked me to introduce her. I did not hesitate. I spoke glowingly about Ms. Ivins for a few minutes, then, suddenly, a six-foot-tall, red-haired woman sprang from the wings. She strode onto the stage and over to the microphone. She gave me an enveloping hug and said, in that languorous Texas accent, "Maya Angelou and I are identical twins, we were separated at birth."

I am also six feet tall, but I am not white. She was under 50 when she made the statement, and I was in my middle 60s, but our hearts do beat in the same rhythm. Whoever separated us at birth must know it did not work. We have been in the struggle for equal rights for all people since we met on that Waldorf Astoria stage. We have laughed together without apology and we have wept when weeping was necessary.

I shall be weeping a little more these days but I shall never forget the charge. Joshua commanded the people to shout and the walls came tumbling down.

I would like to add a thought of my own. Since I found out about Molly Ivins' death yesterday, Phil Ochs' exquisite "When I'm Gone" has been running through my head. Unfortunately, if you are not familiar with the song, you can't hear the hauntingly beautiful melody as you read the words -- but still the words are beautiful enough (h/t Lindsey Beyerstein, who posted these lyrics for Philip Klass in 2005):

When I'm Gone
By Phil Ochs

There's no place in this world where I'll belong when I'm gone
And I won't know the right from the wrong when I'm gone
And you won't find me singin' on this song when I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here

And I won't feel the flowing of the time when I'm gone
All the pleasures of love will not be mine when I'm gone
My pen won't pour out a lyric line when I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here

And I won't breathe the bracing air when I'm gone
And I can't even worry 'bout my cares when I'm gone
Won't be asked to do my share when I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here

And I won't be running from the rain when I'm gone
And I can't even suffer from the pain when I'm gone
Can't say who's to praise and who's to blame when I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here

Won't see the golden of the sun when I'm gone
And the evenings and the mornings will be one when I'm gone
Can't be singing louder than the guns when I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here

All my days won't be dances of delight when I'm gone
And the sands will be shifting from my sight when I'm gone
Can't add my name into the fight while I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here

And I won't be laughing at the lies when I'm gone
And I can't question how or when or why when I'm gone
Can't live proud enough to die when I'm gone
So I guess I'll have to do it while I'm here

Molly Ivins: 1944 - 2006. She died way too soon, but she did do it while she was here.

1 comment:

Chief said...

Maya Angelou's comment is perfect. We, male, female, young, old, black, white, are all in this together.