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S0Noma
02-01-2007, 07:13 AM
Molly Ivins, iconic Texas columnist, loses cancer fight at 62


By LISA SANDBERG and R.G. RATCLIFFE

Love her politics or hate them, Molly Ivins will go down as one of the most quotable Texans. A sample:
"If Texas were a sane place, it wouldn't be nearly as much fun"

"The first rule of holes: When you're in one, stop digging"

"Everyone knows the man has no clue, but no one there has the courage to say it. I mean, good gawd, the man is as he always has been: barely adequate"on President Bush

"Good thing we've still got politics in Texas — finest form of free entertainment ever invented"

"In Texas, we do not hold high expectations for the (governor's) office; it's mostly been occupied by crooks, dorks and the comatose"

"I'll remember sunsets, rivers, hills, plains, the Gulf, woods, a thousand beers in a thousand joints, and sunshine and laughter. And people. Mostly I'll remember people"her farewell column to Texas Observer readers in 1976, when she took a job with the New York Times
AUSTIN — Molly Ivins, the irreverent nationally syndicated columnist from Texas who rankled conservatives and delighted liberals, died Wednesday after a seven-year battle with breast cancer. She was 62.

"She will be remembered for a long time as an iconic figure of the Texas left," said Kaye Northcott, who once was co-editor of the Texas Observer with Ivins.

Northcott was among a group of family and friends with Ivins when she died about 5:30 p.m. at her Austin home.

"Her one-liners are going to live a long time," Northcott said. "Her give-them-hell message to young journalists will endure."

Ivins made her points with a poison pen and a caustic wit that gained her respect from both the left and the right.

"Molly Ivins' clever and colorful perspectives on people and politics gained her national acclaim and admiration that crossed party lines," Gov. Rick Perry said in a statement after her death.

A self-described leftist agitator, Ivins had a career that spanned 40 years, and in that time she thought nothing of calling President George W. Bush "Billy Bob Forehead" or describing Perry as "Governor Goodhair."

Bush, in a statement late Wednesday, said, "Molly Ivins was a Texas original. She was loved by her readers and by her many friends, particularly in Central Texas. I respected her convictions, her passionate belief in the power of words, and her ability to turn a phrase. ... Her quick wit and commitment to her beliefs will be missed."


Searing Southern belle

She once said that if a certain politician was any stupider he would have to be watered once a day.

Her picture once graced billboards in North Texas above the words, "Molly Ivins Can't Really Say That, Can She?" (That later became the title of one of her best-selling books.)

In an interview last year with the Houston Chronicle, Ivins said she made a career writing about "who was getting screwed and who was doing the screwing." She was a diehard liberal in a state that turned from Democratic to Republican in a decade, and she hardly ever let pass an opportunity to lament the change.

"Well, fellow Texans," she wrote in 2003, the year the GOP took both houses of the Texas Legislature, "they can stick a fork in us, 'cause we're done."

Despite her partisan bent, she was as gracious as a Southern belle and so thoroughly funny that she made even Republican critics laugh — if at their own expense.

"She's a friend," said Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, whom Ivins excoriated in the early 1990s for buying life insurance on people dying of AIDS.

By the end of her life, Ivins' columns were being carried in about 300 newspapers across the country. She wrote six books, four of which became best-sellers. They included Shrub: The Short But Happy Political Life of George W. Bush; Bushwhacked: Life in George W. Bush's America, which she wrote with Lou Dubose; and Who Let the Dogs In?: Incredible Political Animals I Have Known.

"She was a columnist who had a constituency as much as a readership," Dubose said Wednesday.

He said liberals in small, conservative towns often feel isolated. He said Ivins connected with them through local newspapers. "Twice a week this woman makes me feel sane and makes me laugh," he said.


Faithful to Observer
Though nationally known — she made several guest appearances on CBS' 60 Minutes — she remained ever loyal to the Texas Observer, the liberal biweekly that she co-edited from 1970 to 1976 and for which she wrote guest columns and raised money until the end of her life.

"Molly was a hero. She was a mentor. She was a liberal. She was a patriot," the Observer wrote in an editorial announcing her death.

She also was a towering presence at 6 feet tall and had thick red hair before chemotherapy claimed almost all of it during her recurring bouts with breast cancer. She was diagnosed with active forms of the disease at least three times.

Like many journalists of the 1960s, Ivins earned a reputation as something of a partyer, and, until her health declined, she hosted at her Austin home monthly gatherings of writers and rabble-rousers.

"She always had a rambunctious bunch of mavericks and mutts, journalists and old-time liberals," recalled her friend Jim Hightower, a former Democratic agriculture commissioner and now a radio host and lecturer. "They'd be old people tottering around in their 80s and kiddies. Molly was there with the best of 'em."

She never married and had no children.

Born Mary Tyler Ivins in Monterey, Calif., she liked to tell people she and her two siblings grew up in East Texas. More accurately, she grew up in Houston's River Oaks.

Her father, Jim Ivins, was a corporate lawyer and conservative Republican, which meant, according to her brother, Andy Ivins, that his sister could be only one thing: a leftist.

"She was going to be anything he wasn't," Andy Ivins once said.

She attended Smith College, her mother's and grandmother's alma mater, where, combining a love of politics and writing, she contributed to the student newspaper.

She spent two summers interning at the Chronicle editing bridal announcements and street closures, attended Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, and landed her first job at the Minneapolis Tribune, where she spent three years.


Tied to Texas
Homesick for Texas, she returned in 1970, co-editing the Observer. She covered the Sharpstown stock fraud scandal that shook state government.

In the mid 1970s, she was hired by the New York Times but got fired six years later because A.M. Rosenthal, then the top editor, didn't feel she showed "due respect and reverence to the great dignity" of that newspaper, Ivins recalled in a 2006 interview.

She returned to Texas, becoming a columnist for the Dallas Times Herald. After it went out of business, she wrote for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In 2001, she aligned with Creators Syndicate, appearing in about 400 papers.

Recently, she focused on the "soufflé of mediocrity" that she said characterized American journalism, brought on by greedy corporate owners of media outlets. Republicans, President Bush and the Iraq war were her favorite targets, though.

In her last column, in mid-January, she said she was starting a newspaper crusade to stop the war. "Raise hell," she urged readers. "Think of something ridiculous to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. ... We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!' "

Ivins is survived by her brother Andy, of London, Texas; sister Sara Ivins Maley, of Albuquerque, N.M.; and standard poodle, Fannie Brice.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

web page (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4516780.html)

Gayle in MD
02-01-2007, 08:27 AM
She was fabulous, and one of a kind. Both Molly, and Anne Richards, represented the best Texas had to offer. They were both, always right on the mark.

Gayle in Md.

hondo
02-01-2007, 09:20 AM
I'm depressed. There weren't that many really
good liberal columnists out there.

SpiderMan
02-05-2007, 12:16 PM
Molly was sometimes entertaining, but her babbling couldn't be taken seriously because she was usually dead wrong.

I'm still waiting for the streets to "run red with blood", as she predicted would happen if we let honest Texas citizens carry licensed handguns for self-protection. She promised we'd all be taking potshots at anyone who looks scary, and shooting one another at the scene of every minor traffic accident.

She failed to derail passage of our concealed-handgun law, and then quietly ignored the subject when her "aftermath" failed to materialize.

I may not like the way he's gone recently, but I have to admit that GOVERNOR George Bush had a lot of the right ideas.

SpiderMan