Thursday, July 14, 2011

Molly Ivins

A Rebel Life
Bill Minutaglio and W. Michael Smith

I had a bottle of Shiner Bok this evening in preparation for writing a review of this celebration of the life of l'enfant terrible of Texas journalism.  Minutaglio and Smith have written Ivins life from her childhood in a wealthy Houston neighborhood to her death of breast cancer at 62.

Who was Molly Ivins rebelling against? Her father of course! Jim Ivins was a WWII Coast Guard veteran, a lawyer, an oil company executive and, somewhat of a martinet. His family called him General Jim.

Growing up in General Jim's home in Houston, Molly was exposed to the same private school/country club lifestyle that George W. Bush was experiencing. The two knew each other "to say hello," but were never close. Molly was expected to find a suitable husband, either at the club or later when she attended her mother's alma mater, Smith College; preferably a Yale man. She would then settle down and have children who would do the same, perpetuating the generations of  o'l bidness tycoons. It didn't work out that way.

 Ivins' folksy east Texas persona was not entirely a put on, yet she did study at Smith and Columbia School of Journalism. She studied a year abroad in Paris and spoke French like a native. She also lived in New York and worked for a while, unhappily, at the New York Times. The place she liked to be, though, was Austin and her favorite job was editor of the Texas Observer, a liberal, no holds barred publication, covering the Texas legislature and the Governor's office.

As a columnist, Ivins was perfectly placed to write, in her own critically sarcastic way, about "Dubya," her old country club buddy, as Governor of Texas and then as President. In a way the man she called "Shrub" would make her career for her. Having George Bush to rub her columns up against gave her writing a great deal of traction and some wonderful subject matter.

Molly Ivins A Rebel Life, does not quote from Ivin's writing very much at all, assuming that readers will be familiar with her columns and her commentaries on NPR. This may not be the case any longer, so I'll throw in a few quotes that I gleaned from the internet. Here's a bit of a piece she wrote in 2006, which has a little relevance today. It concerns the former Speaker of the House, now an imploding candidate for President; Newt Gingrich:

Of all the viral members of the media who have been suggesting that the Dems cooperate with their political opponents, the one who rendered me almost unconscious with surprise was Newt Gingrich.
Newt Gingrich, the Boy Scout. Newt Gingrich, the man who sat there and watched Congress impeach and try Bill Clinton for lying about having an extramarital affair while he, Newt Gingrich, was lying about having an extramarital affair. (This all took place during his second marriage. The first one ended when he told his wife he was divorcing her while she was in the hospital undergoing cancer treatment.)

This is the level of Republican hypocrisy that reminds us all how far the Dems have to go. I tell you what. Let's all hold hands together and sing, "Oh the Farmers and the Cowboys Should Be Friends!" Just not, please, Newt Gingrich, the man whose contribution to civility was to recommend that all Democrats be referred to with such words as cowards, traitors, commies, godless, liars and other such bipartisan-promoting terms.

Please, anyone but Newt.

I would recommend reading some of Molly Ivins columns before tackling her biography. One of her published collections (Molly Ivins Can't Say That Can She?, You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You, Nothin' But Good Times Ahead) would do, or you can get a quick look online at AlterNet.  If you are of a conservative bent, expect to be outraged. Also expect to be entertained and, possibly, educated.

1 comment:

  1. I read this biography in May. I was privileged to see and hear Molly in person on a couple of occasions. I've lived in Texas all my life, and nobody understood Texas politics better than she did.


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