News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Ivins gave voice to everyman, stood firm in her convictions

The world's most widely syndicated liberal columnist, Molly Ivins, died Wednesday after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 62.

Ms. Ivins was a pot-stirrer. Although she refused to embrace "political correctness," she was unabashedly liberal. "Fish gotta swim and hearts gotta bleed," she once wrote.

She skewered politicians from the Texas Legislature to the White House. No elected official was safe from her biting wit and humor, regardless of his or her political party. Ms. Ivins was a champion of the downtrodden and the obscure. She gave a voice, and thus political power, to those who otherwise had none.

And yet, biting and critical as she could be, even the targets of her barbs had a respect for her.

President Clinton, in a speech last year, described Ms. Ivins as someone who was "good when she praised me and who was painfully good when she criticized me."

Even President Bush, whom she referred to as "Shrub" and was the most frequent target of her columns, respected Ms. Ivins for her persistence and tenacity.

Many conservatives believe that those who criticize Mr. Bush do so out of jealousy or hate. But Ms. Ivins did not criticize out of malevolence or for political revenge. She spoke out boldly because of her conviction in what is right and wrong and her belief that everyday Joes and Janes could change the world.

"The purpose of this old-fashioned newspaper crusade to stop the war is not to make George W. Bush look like the dumbest president ever," she wrote in a column in The Texas Observer one week ago today. "People have done dumber things. What were they thinking when they bought into the Bay of Pigs fiasco? How dumb was the Suez war? How massively stupid was the entire war in Vietnam?

"Even at that, the challenge with this misbegotten adventure is that WE simply cannot let it continue. "

The last paragraph of that column includes these words:

"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. ... Make our troops know we're for them and trying to get them out of there."

Even in her last days, Molly Ivins was stirring the pot.

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