It's been a year since Molly Ivins died, leaving us to slog through the political landscape without her sanity-saving blend of insight, humor and outrage. Unlike Maureen Dowd, who delights in snippy wordplay, with Molly you felt the words erupting from her soul, ricocheting off her funny bone and then passing through her brain to be arranged in a way that made sense -- an enormous challenge when dealing with the non-sense of the president she called "Shrub."
As Super Tuesday closes in with the fate of -- oh, just about everyone -- at stake, I keep wishing I could open my paper and find Molly's take on it all. What fun she would have had with the entire Republican slate, from the moribund-on-arrival Fred Thompson to the 12th-century worldview of affable Mike Huckabee to the transformation of "America's Mayor" to America's meltdown.
And she wouldn't have let John McCain's resemblance to an ermine -- a short-legged weasel who changes color with the seasons -- go unnoticed.
On the other side I imagine she'd have taken a few jabs at Dennis Kucinich for toe-tapping with a UFO and at John Edwards for his pricey girly-man haircuts -- yet slapped them a high-five for the truths they dare to speak. She encouraged veracity no matter how eccentric the package; she just couldn't tolerate "clever straddling," as she put it.
She would have donned a hazmat suit to deal with the hydra-like beast called Billary that clawed its way to defeat in South Carolina. She was clear on where she stood on the Clintons, calling Bill "as weak as bus-station chili" and writing in January 2006, "I'd like to make it clear to the people who run the Democratic Party that I will not support Hillary Clinton for president. Enough. Enough triangulation, calculation and equivocation."
So as millions of us trudge off to caucuses and primaries next Tuesday, I'm wondering: What Would Molly Do?
Referring to the death of Gene McCarthy in that same 2006 column, she gave a pretty good idea of where she stood.
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"There are times a country is so tired of bull that only the truth can provide relief. If no one in conventional-wisdom politics has the courage to speak up and say what needs to be said, then you go out and find some obscure junior senator from Minnesota [or Illinois -- my add] with the guts to do it."
Well, McCarthy didn't win, but he also wasn't much of a candidate. I knew and admired Eugene McCarthy, but I think it's safe to say he was no Barack Obama. But by coalescing the young and the antiwar voters, he forced those who did win to put an end to America's other mistake of a war.
So Molly would rail at us not to let Bush Co. -- and any lily-livered so-called leader who is up for election -- tell us that this war is no longer an issue.
With plans for permanent military bases throughout Iraq and likely Republican candidate John McCain's comfort with 100 years of occupation -- not to mention the obscene daily loss of life and treasure -- we are a nation that will continue to bleed out until we die.
So do what Molly would do. Go to your precinct caucus on Feb. 5, not because your candidate's political future depends on it, but because your nation's future depends on the candidate you choose. Go with Molly's words ringing in your ears: "We want to find solutions other than killing people. Not in our name, not with our money, not with our children's blood."
Susan Lenfestey lives in Minneapolis and writes at the Clotheslineblog.com.
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