A Tribute to Molly Ivins


EDITOR’S NOTE: This message from Harvey Wasserman, a longtime friend of Molly’s, was posted on the Texas Observer web site shortly before Molly’s death.

Our beloved sister Molly Ivins is fighting for her life against cancer, and all we can do is try to send her even a fraction of the brilliance, joy and love she has given us for so many incomparable years.

This genius daughter of Texas turmoil has stood alone for so long as a voice of clarity, wit, common sense and plain-spoken conscience that it’s hard to know even where to start.

Perhaps most important to remember is that she has not been just a writer. From her modest but gracious home in the heart of Austin, she has done anything but sit back and snipe with that unique penetrating wit of hers. She could have done it. She could have just gone to that keyboard every day, blown them all away, and built her national reputation from the sheer genius of an insulated ivory tower.

But Molly has always been a firm believer in hands-on non-violent combat, which in hands like hers is the ultimate weapon. She puts her heart and soul where her convictions are. She’s fought tooth and nail for The Texas Observer and whatever other worthwhile publications there are that can muster an audience in the Lone Star State. She’s worked with the great Jim Hightower in his climb to elected office. She supports candidates. She goes out of her way. She works hard. She makes her presence felt wherever she thinks it’ll do some good, no matter what the personal cost.

All the while being our very premier writer/humorist. If Mark Twain has a female counterpart on today’s political and journalistic scene, it is Molly Ivins. She has that miraculous ability to slice and dice an entire raft of political horse-dung with a single simple sentence, laced with wry, seeded with sweetness, and so often utterly cleansing and clarifying.

We can all be thankful that our lucky stars have placed her—where else but—in Austin. Throughout the entire horrific nightmare of George W. Bush, whom she has somehow known personally for decades, it has been Molly and only Molly who’s been on the spot to say exactly what needs to be said in exactly the right Texas tone with precisely the right down home balance of horror, outrage and utterly human wit. Nobody else could be doing it as she does, from the inside out, from the high ground lifting up the low. Could we ever INVENT anyone better suited, with a sharper wit and better sense of the jugular?

Except with Molly, it’s the spiritual center that’s the bullseye. With that wry, beautiful smile of hers and that insanely musical Texas twang, she never fails to aim for higher ground. When her eyes roll at the latest unbelievable insanity from this ghastly crew, she still manages to twinkle with that huge, heavenly light that’s only Molly’s.

In her personal life Molly has always been every bit as gracious as you can tell she is from her writing. Last time she carted me around Austin, it was in her obligatory pickup. The thing seemed a bit naked without a gun rack. But Molly behind the wheel was armed aplenty, always willing to drive the few extra blocks, even if you are willing to walk. Her southern grace just won’t think of it, no matter how many better things she has to do. And we know there are plenty.

To hear her speak is to be dazzled by the music of a true national treasure. To see her heart is to be warmed by a truly magnificent woman who embodies all this country can and should be. That she has been on the job for so long, with such persistence and valor, is something for which we can all be joyously thankful.

Molly, we are with you, and we need you, and we love you, as we have needed you and loved you now for so many years now. Get well soon!

In Molly’s honor, some of us are sending contributions to the Molly Ivins Fund for Investigative Reporting at The Texas Observer; 307 West Seventh Street; Austin, TX 78701.