Molly's Last Crusade


Molly Ivins can’t be turning over in her grave. She was cremated. Given what’s happened in Iraq, her ashes probably haven’t yet settled into the Hill Country hardscrabble. We’re partly to blame, and it’s time to make amends by doing what she asked.

The Observer published her last column on January 26, five days before she died, under the headline “Enough Is Enough.” One of her last mortal acts was declaring an “old-fashioned newspaper crusade” to halt the Iraq madness. “Every single day,” she wrote, “every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. … Hit the streets to protest Bush’s proposed surge. … We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, ‘Stop it, now!'”

President Bush got his surge, and nine months later 163,000 American troops are fighting in Iraq. Toss in federal mercenaries, and the figure jumps to more than 340,000. Nearly 4,000 Americans have died there. More than 70,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed. The war’s cost is approaching $500 billion, money we don’t have. During the 2000 campaign, Bush pledged to steer clear of deficit spending and foreign entanglements. Now it’s fight “them” there at any cost, or we’ll have to fight them at home. Everything about our president and his war is hooey and has been all along.

It’s time to take the bit and pull as Ivins asked. Bang pots and pans. But also let those members of the U.S. Senate who are enabling Bush’s lunacy know it’s past time to back off from this war.

On September 19, the Senate rejected Virginia Democrat Jim Webb’s proposal that troops spend at least as much time stateside as they spent in Iraq before being sent back. The vote was a good test of who’s sticking with Bush and who’s had it with the war. The tally was 56-44, four short of the 60 needed to make it stick. Among the 44, there are 13-all Republicans-up for re-election next year. They need to be reminded-forcefully and emphatically-that the voting public has lost patience with their blind devotion to a failed policy. They need to hear from you, early and often, as they campaign to retain their seats.

Congressional Quarterly, National Journal and other oddsmakers reckon that four of the ones who must face the voters are more politically vulnerable than the rest: Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Add Republicans John Cornyn because he’s from Texas, and crazy Ted Stevens of Alaska because he thinks the Internet is a series of tubes. These are the people who need to hear the banging of pots and pans as they hit the campaign trail.

You can write them at United States Senate, Washington, D.C. 20510. You can find their e-mail forms at www.senate.gov. (They’re too uppity to just give you an e-mail address like everyone else.) Click on “Contact” at the Web page’s lower left.

Try to channel Ivins. Ask the good senators to get us out of Iraq pronto. Tell them they’re horse’s butts. Contact all 13 if you’re feeling feisty; you’ll find a list here.

Remember, we’re just four Senate votes short of beginning to extricate ourselves from Bush’s quagmire. Let Speaker Nancy Pelosi worry about the House for now, though you might drop her a note suggesting that she keep the Rules Committee from bringing defense funding to the floor until there’s a timetable for getting out.

Win or lose, when the dust settles you can say you too got involved in Ivins’ last crusade.