Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins is dead, damn it.

I happen to believe she would approve of the salty language as my way of saying her death from breast cancer is a damnable waste. And while some of my best friends are men, I think if we had pumped half as much money into curing breast cancer as we do into finding cures for male impotence, she'd be alive and writing today.

Ms. Ivins, the Times would call her. They kicked her to the curb because she walked around the office barefoot and swore too much. Ms. Ivins was a graduate of my alma mater, Smith College, intellectual training ground for Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, sure, but Ms. Ivins was my hero. She must have been quite a figure there too, tall and outspoken and not there to get her Mrs. degree, as the saying went. She was a independent woman with a strong, clear, funny voice that poked the fatcats and let no one off the hook.

I had the pleasure of seeing her speak in person once, at the Humane Society Expo in Dallas. My mother and I went there because I was conducting a workshop on drafting legal documents for animal shelters and rescues. I got a free plane ticket and a room, and my mom wanted to see Molly Ivins, who was the keynote speaker. As my mom and I sat practically in the first row, beaming at her as she towered behind the podium, she took an actual clipping from her jacket pocket, identified it as from the front page of that morning's Times, and quoted some ridiculous Bushism. She then made several very good jokes about it, before a huge national audience, just like she might be joking with us around her kitchen table.

Then she said, "Oh, he sounds stupid, alright, but do not under estimate him. He is not a moderate. He is dangerous. He is not an honest man." After the speech Ms. Ivins talked with my mom briefly, and made the whole trip worthwhile for her.

This was before Al Gore won the election and we got George W. Bush as our president. This was before September 11. Before the unending war in Afghanistan. (Remember? We're still there, looking for Osama Been Forgotten.) Before the war in Iraq, this quaqmire which is sending home over 30,000 wounded young men and women so far, a very large portion of them with missing limbs and devastating closed head injuries.

And we are still in both places because George W. Bush is not an honest man. He is dangerous.

Molly Ivins, it gives me no pleasure to say you were right, prescient even. But your words never failed to give me pleasure in a world where so much harm is done. You were a beacon, a voice in the wilderness, and you made me laugh. You were nice to my momma.

Thank you, Ms. Ivins, for your barefooted, swear-word peppered truths. You were an original. I love you. Rest in peace.

And fer chrissake, don't let St. Peter off the hook, either.

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