Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Molly Ivins: Greatest Hits

When Molly Ivins died 13 years ago this week, the world lost one of its great wits, social commentators, and fighters for civil rights and social justice. The void she left was huge. I think now more than ever we could use a good dose of Molly, so here’s a Texas-size handful of her greatest hits…

»  “Although it is true that only about 20 percent of American workers are in unions, that 20 percent sets the standards across the board in salaries, benefits and working conditions. If you are making a decent salary in a non-union company, you owe that to the unions. One thing that corporations do not do is give out money out of the goodness of their hearts.”

» “How can you not love Texas politics? You pick up the paper in the morning and it’s kind of like finding Fidel Castro in the refrigerator.”

Poster for the movie "Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins"
Janice Engel’s documentary “Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins,” which opened to Texas-sized rave reviews, is now available via streaming and DVD.

» On Pat Buchanan’s culture-war speech at the 1992 Republican convention: “It probably sounded better in the original German.”

» “We get so scared of something—scared of communism or crime or drugs or illegal aliens—that we think we can make ourselves safer by sacrificing freedom.  Never works. It’s still true: the only thing to fear is fear itself.”

» “My friend Mercedes Pena made me get in touch with my emotions just before I had a breast cut off. Just as I suspected, they were awful. ‘How do you Latinas do this—all the time in touch with your emotions?’ I asked her. ‘That’s why we take siestas,’ she replied.”

» “I have been attacked by Rush Limbaugh on the air, an experience somewhat akin to being gummed by a newt. It doesn’t actually hurt, but it leaves you with slimy stuff on your ankle.”

» “Keep fightin’ for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don’t you forget to have fun doin’ it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin’ ass and celebratin’ the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was.”

» “I’m a Texan. I drive a pickup truck. I drink beer. I hunt. I’m a liberal. So what?”

» “Some civilians believe the definition of an honest Texas pol is one who stays bought. But among pols of the old school, the saying was, ‘If you can’t take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their women and vote against ’em anyway, you don’t belong in the Legislature.’  Many of our pols have the ethical sensitivity of a walnut.”

» “Populism is the simple premise that markets need to be restrained by society and by a democratic political system. We are not socialists or communists, we are proponents of regulated capitalism and, I might add, people who have read American history.”

Molly Ivins publicity shot

» “The poor man who is currently our president has reached such a point of befuddlement that he thinks stem cell research is the same as taking human lives, but that 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians are progress toward democracy.”

» “Yes. He should run. He’s the only Democrat with any ‘Elvis’ to him.”
Molly on Barack Obama in 2004

» “Any nation that can survive what we have lately in the way of government, is on the high road to permanent glory.”

» “I accidentally became an authority on George W. Bush. Like the guy who climbed Everest, it was there.”

» “I don’t have any children, so I’ve decided to claim all the future freedom-fighters and hell-raisers as my kin.  I figure freedom and justice beat having your name in marble any day.  Besides, if there is another life after this one, think how much we’ll get to laugh watching it all. … We may not be able to take it with us, but we can still fight for freedom after we’re gone.”


First published in Daily Kos.

4 comments on “Molly Ivins: Greatest Hits

  1. Patricia A Nugent
    February 1, 2020

    This was good for my soul. Thank you. Molly lives on….so much so that I’d forgotten she died! Perhaps good humor, good writing, and good insight makes us immortal. Let’s hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Daniel Burston
    February 1, 2020

    Molly Ivins was awesome! Tom Lehrer may have been the only other American political satirist of her calibre. (or are there others?)

    Thanks so much for this.

    Liked by 1 person

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