advice from a fake consultant

out-of-the-box thinking about economics, politics, and more... 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On Saying Goodbye, Or, A Few Words About Molly Ivins

We can now actually see the signs that the end has come.

There are bleachers being built, there are rehearsals under way, and Senators are gathering to consider whether they’ll offer advice and give consent.

There will be millions of words written about the past eight years and what has been wrought upon the world, but for today I have a simple thought to put upon the table:

I wish Molly Ivins was writing about 600 of them.

“It's time to give thanks, and I want to start off with a great, big thank you for the top American movement conservatives and all the fun we've had since Election Day. I know I promised not to gloat after this election was over, but I'm not talking unseemly gloating -- I'm talking about moments so brilliantly hilarious the only option is to put your head down on the desk and howl.”

--Thanks—No, Seriously, by Molly Ivins, November 23, 2006

It was because of Molly that I knew about Dubya, even before he was a serious candidate. She warned us back in 1999 (when writing about a stay of execution granted by the Supreme Court for a Canadian citizen based on treaty violations by Texas courts) that the then-Governor didn’t really care about our friends and allies…even as she reminded us about Texas and its odd fascination with the death penalty:

“Our governor replied to concerned Canadians with something of a swagger, "If you're a Canadian and you come to our state, don't murder anybody." Sound advice. But our own U.S. government, you may recall, raised Cain with the government of Singapore for caning a delinquent American teenager, and we also raised some when Turkey decided to amputate the feet of two Americans held in prison there…”

--From the Molly Ivins column of January 14th, 1999

She warned us that he was not going to be much on protecting the environment, either…and she did it long before Kyoto was a part of the Presidential capitulation lexicon:

“Good times! Protests, arrests, people raising Cain in the halls of power. Well, actually, it was the sidewalk in front of the Governor's Mansion.

As one who admires a succinctly made political case, I can do no better than to quote the full-page ad run by the protesters in this instance: "Texas Needs to Quit Coddling Polluters. Call Governor Bush and ask him why polluter profits are more important than children's health."”

--From the Molly Ivins column of April 20th, 1999

And speaking of children’s health: were you surprised that Mr. Bush and elements of the Republic Party are so adamantly against SCHIP?

Molly wasn’t.
Consider these comments from a June 1st, 2000, story about the struggles of a woman with spinal bifida to graduate from high school (coincidentally, Kristy Renya, the woman in question, graduated the same night as the Bush daughters from the same high school…Austin High):

“Governor, I think you should know there is not one single thing you have ever done in public office that has helped the Reyna family. If you've ever wondered why I seem a little sour about your record, chalk it up to the Reynas.

I know you've helped the oil industry, and the insurance industry, and the funeral industry, and the herbal-diet industry, and the utility industry, and all those air polluters with your new voluntary clean-up program — all those people who have given so generously to your campaigns. But everything you have ever done that touched the life of the Reynas has made it harder for them.

When Big Rudy [Kristy’s father] wasn't working, the other kids had no health insurance. Kristy got Medicaid and SSI from the federal government. (The Republicans in Congress wanted the SSI taken away on the grounds that poor parents like Hope might have coached their children into "faking disability." You should come and see Kristy's "fake disability" some time.)

You wanted to keep 200,000 Texas children like the Reynas off the new federal children's health insurance program, even though it would hardly cost the state. But then, maybe you agree with your Health Commissioner Reyn Archer that health insurance isn't important.”

And here we are, eight years later, and Molly’s concerns have come home to roost--but it’s not surprising that she would have been so prescient…after all, she actually knew Mr. Bush personally from all the way back when they attended prep schools in Houston.

“…I think one of the most attractive things about Texans is that they really don't give a shit what you think of them.”

--From a Salon interview, February 18, 2003

So I guess I can say that Molly warned me, long in advance, that this President would be about as useful as spit on a biscuit…and even more than that, she made a large part of my education about the never-too-clear nature of practical politics—and the meanness it can sometimes bring out in otherwise nice people—a lot more fun than it might have been otherwise.

“…Always reminds me of any guy I ever had dinner with at the Midland Petroleum Club. You come away saying, gosh what a swell bunch of fellows. Thank God they aren’t running the world.”

--From a Democracy Now interview, July 13, 2004

“…not to mention, of course, that reality is usually a 17-sided affair to begin with.”

--From a May 2001 interview with the Special Libraries Association

And I wanted her to see the end of this Presidency—badly—but as we all know, it was not to be.

I think about Molly when I write nowadays—and when I do I try to remember that we’re writing, in the end, about people and their lives. I try to do it with a sense of fairness, and I try to avoid demonizing even those I think are fools or worse…and I even slip a hello to Molly, Carol Burnett style, into my stories (watch for the word “numbnuttery”) from time to time.

So as this Presidency comes to an end, I’ll be enjoying the moment for two, as it were; and I hope you have a chance to do the same.

Don’t gloat too much—and go easy on the bourbon—and by this time next week we’ll be seeing the dawn of a new day.

I think Molly would have liked that.


jmb said...

I had never heard of Molly Ivins until today. But I am glad you wrote this. I truly enjoyed it. Farewell Dubya. Too bad you weren't a one term president.

fake consultant said...

boy, no kidding...and from the creator's syndicate site you can read all her work that was syndicated to newspapers.

it's worth taking a bit of time to catch up.