Friday, February 02, 2007

Molly Update

Guy Clark has a wonderful little song called "Dublin Blues" which begins:
I wish I was in Austin
In the Chili Parlour Bar
Drinkin' Mad Dog Margaritas
And not carin' where you are
Well, if I were in the Chili Parlor Bar this Sunday, I'd walk a few blocks down to the First United Methodist Church (both it and the Texas Chili Parlor are practically in the shadow of the state Capitol, go figure) for Molly Ivins' memorial service—and then head on down to Scholz Garden to hoist a few in her memory (h/t jules). But here I sit in storm-tossed Florida, so y'all'll just have to do it for me.

In other Molly news, I highly recommend giving yesterday's Democracy Now! tribute a listen or read. The interview with Molly is from 2004, but it's still quite timely. Here's my favorite bit:

MOLLY IVINS: Well, Shrub was pretty much a straight political account of George W's record as governor of Texas. When I started as a political reporter, you were told that there were three rules. One was to look at the record. Two was to look at the record. And three was to look at the record. And then you would see how the fellow would do in the next stage of public life. And I must say, I think it's a dandy rule. Lou Dubose and I are probably the only people in America who weren't surprised by George W. Bush as president. Now, the one area, of course, in which there was no track record was foreign policy.

AMY GOODMAN: It's interesting, because Bush just made the comment about John Edwards, about his inexperience.

MOLLY IVINS: Oh, well, of course, Bush had no experience at all, when he started as president, in foreign policy. And the amusing contention, even that he was fluent in Spanish, always sent Lou and I into convulsions. We’d go down in the valley, every time he speaks the same two sentences, and then they cue the mariachis. I was a little surprised that he started governing so hard from the right, given the controversy over the election, given that there was still some question about the legitimacy of his presidency. But it is very clear that they just decided to go for broke from the beginning. And September 11th, a terrible tragedy, and I certainly don't hold him responsible, but it does seem to me that they used that for their own purposes in invading Iraq, which they wanted to do anyway.

AMY GOODMAN: In one of your most recent columns, you write, “Recently on PBS's NOW with Bill Moyers, there was a long interview with Frank Luntz, the Republican pollster and message-meister. Luntz recently advised Republicans to explain ‘the policy of pre-emption and the war in Iraq’ by recommending that ‘no speech about…Iraq should begin without a reference to 9-11.’”

MOLLY IVINS: Well that's it. You keep making that connection, and that's why something like 70% of the American people thought, when we went into Iraq, that Saddam Hussein was directly linked to 9/11. And the Bush people just made that connection over and over and over and over and over. And it's phony. I mean, it’s just not there. The interesting thing to me about politics these days -- and that Luntz piece reminds me of it -- he was explaining how, for example, a Republican candidate would deal with working women. Now, you’re going to be amazed, Amy. But by dint of a shrewd professional questioning in focus groups, Frank Luntz determined that what working mothers need most is more time in their lives. We were all so astonished to hear this. And so, what he suggests is the Republican candidates say to a group, you know, when he's campaigning, “Now, I'll bet I know what it is you ladies need most. I bet -- I think you need more free time.” And the ladies will nod, and they’ll raise their hands and agree, and you've bonded with them, and you've shown empathy toward their major problem in life.

Well, yeah, you've shown empathy toward their major problem in life, but look at the record. The record is, you cut programs to early childhood education, you cut Head Start, you cut after school, you cut K-12, you cut housing vouchers. You’re going to change your overtime. They have done everything they can to make this poor woman's life more harried and frantic than ever. That's the record. But what we call politics now and what most political writers write about is the empathy and the bonding and the word choice and the horse rights, and it has nothing to do with what's really happening to people's lives.

Look at the record. Look at the record. Look at the record. I vote that, should an angry mob of torch-wielding global villagers ever rise up and burn the Tim Russerts, Brit Humes, Chris Matthewses, etc. out of their Nantucket mansions, we put those three lines on a monument atop the ashes.

Pots and pans, pots and pans. And maybe, a cannon.
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