Molly Ivins, scourge of George Bush, dies at 62

posted 2007-02-01 12:18:27 by DaveM

The death on Wednesday of Molly Ivins from breast cancer at the age of 62 robs American journalism of one of its most pungent, funny and liberal commentators. She was also a singular scourge of the person and policies of President George W Bush, the man she dubbed "Shrub."

Though born in California, she was raised in Houston and became the quintessential Texan, but the hard-drinking, thick-accented wise-cracking exterior concealed the brain of a genuine intellectual, refined in part by her education at Smith College, Columbia University in New York and SciencePo (the Institute of Political Science) in Paris.

Apart from a six year stint on the New York Times covering politics and the Rocky Mountain West and an earlier beat as a police reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune, her writing was always rooted in Texas, especially its political idiosyncracies. She wickedly dissected the doings of its state legislators, all, to her, in greater or lesser degrees "dipsticks." Of one congressman she once wrote, "if his IQ slips any lower. we'll have to water him twice a day." Her spiritual and writing home was the Texas Observer bi-monthly magazine.

Ross Perot, the Texas entrepreneur and 1992 independent presidential candidate, proved rich fodder for her pen, though, in retrospect, she was just warming up for the current president. His additional grievous sin was that he ousted as state governor Ann Richards, Ms Ivins' similarly tart-tongued great friend, who died of cancer last autumn.

Having christened him Shrub, she went on to write a wickedly acid book, Bush-whacked, on his presidency. Her regular recent appearances at the annual World Affairs Conference staged by the University of Colorado always produced new streams of Bush stories, many not printable.

But her heart was always in the progressive movement and the extent which the under-privileged survived, and sometimes even thrived, in spite of odds stacked against them. She confessed she was a classic "bleeding heart" liberal, admitting even to "crying a little" when former president Richard Nixon finally died.