FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Channeling Molly

Newspaper columnist and Texas raconteur Molly Ivins’ mortal coil left this plane on January 31, 2007 (Oh Lord, have we been without her for a decade?), dubious that she was bound for greater glory. While the right-wing pols who had to pull her barbs from their behinds thought of her as a fifth-columnist, all she was was a sharp-witted reporter of liberal persuasion who took notice of political bloviation and chicanery with devastating down-home rhetoric.

She is sorely missed, and in her absence the self-awareness of the politicking class in the Republic of Texas—if not everywhere—has sunk below irony. As Molly once said, the thing about holes is when you’re in one, stop digging. Oh sure, we have Stephen Colbert and John Oliver to deliver unto us outrage over political jackassery, but who remains so hard at work exposing political mendacity in regular columns syndicated in hundreds of newspapers? But then, does anyone read newspapers anymore?

As for how Ivins (whom National Review deep-thinker Kevin D. Williamson called a “shallow progressive polemicist”) would regard Donald Trump, some evidence does exist. In a column about how the media makes light of fitness to govern, written in 1999 during her stint at the Texas Observer, Ivins observed:

All this [lack of analysis of whether the several candidates for President are fit to govern] follows months of discussion on burning topics like W. Bush’s alleged drug use thirty years ago, vast attention to Gore’s shifting from blue suits to earth tones, Donald Trump being treated as though any reasonable citizen would consider voting for him, the Warren Beatty candidacy, and much more that is of no help whatever in selecting the next Leader of the Free World.

It seems she had already drawn a bead on the Trumpster. So what would she think of him actually being elected President and carrying on as he does? in my imagination she might say things like:

+ Trump cut his teeth cutting deals with criminal elements in the real estate game, which may explain why he’d had  so little success coming to terms with the Democrats, who don’t wink and nod enough and deeply resent him for muscling in on their faux-populist turf.

+ One might conclude that Trump’s cabinet and White House picks represent an attempt to syndicate his brand of schlocky sleaze across the vast fertile plain that is the executive branch, except that unlike his studied appreciation of organized crime, he has no clue about how the Gummint operates and neither do his minions.

+ The Beltway crowd doesn’t know what to do with James Comey. It’s sort of a sex scandal. Half of ’em want him twisting in the wind for not ripping Hillery’s bodice all the way down. The other half, who never trusted Comey anyway, bleat that Trump screwed him. And all these cats are pissed he didn’t share the porn he found on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

+ There’s some truth to what right-wingers say about Liberal Media. Right now, network news and even NPR seem to be falling all over themselves to estimate which of Trump’s gaffs will be his last, but most of that suppositioning is about as grounded as a trailer park in an F-4 tornado.

+ It gave me the willies when I heard anti-Trump liberals proclaim “He’s not my President.” Not their psychopath, perhaps, but President? Don’t they remember racist yahoos hollering that when Obama was elected? What ever became of the idea that we get the kind of leaders we deserve?

Molly observed the disgruntling of white working class America in her big back yard, and predicted its wider efflorescence. She would hardly have been surprised to see the Trump campaign snooker this backlash. In one of her letters to The Nation called Lone Star Republic [1], she examined the bubbas of the Republic of Texas, a nativist white separatist group that took to the hills in the 1990s, beginning:

Called upon once more in my capacity as the World‘s Leading Authority on blue-bellied, wall-eyed, lithium-deprived Texas lunatics, I step modestly but confidently into the breach.

She ended with:

The second important point about ROT and its followers is that they should not be dismissed with the old put-down “Get a life.” That’s the problem. They can’t. Most of them don’t have the education or the skills to get and keep a decent job. They’re going to spend the rest of their lives in trailer parks. Basically, these guys are Bubba. A little stranger than Bubba usually is, but still Bubba. Maybe a high school education. Twenty, make that almost thirty, years of falling wages. No way to get ahead, And all day they listen to the establishment media tell them the economy is booming. Everyone else is getting rich. Mansions are selling like hotcakes. Big cigars and thick steaks are fashionable again. The angst of the soccer mom is the highest concern of our politicians.

There is so much anger out here. It is taking so many bizarre forms. And most of ’the media can’t even see it: Economic apartheid keeps the bottom half of this society well hidden from the top half. Texas Attorney General Dan Morales says ROT is “terrorism, pure and simple.”

“Dingbattery, pure and simple” I could buy. Terrorism? Beause a lot of Americans cannot forgive what happened at Wac0 and Ruby Ridge? Why should they? Ever heard anyone apologize for those murders? A lot of Americans have no hope, get no help and see their own government as an oppressive force. For them, it is, isn’t it? Working-class people are getting screwed by their own government. Its latest start is to cut the capital gains tax and the estate tax that kicks in after a person leaves more than $600,000. More tax breaks for the rich mean a larger share ~ of the tax burden for everybody else. What we have here is just a little case of misdirected anger. O.K., the U.N. and black helicopters are not the problem. But don’t underestimate the anger itself.

And now, in their coordinated all-out campaign to dump Trump, the established political class and its (non-alt) captive neoliberal media still have nothing to offer the forgotten cities and towns of Middle America. All they want is a more reliable imperialist, who won’t imperil free trade and stupidly alienate minorities, except, of course, those bubbas.

Notes.

[1] The Nation 264:20, May 26, 1997. Reprinted in Molly Ivins: Letters to the Nation (R. Lingeman, ed.), The Nation Books, 2013.

More articles by:

Geoff Dutton is an ex-geek turned writer and editor. He hails from Boston and writes about whatever distortions of reality strike his fancy. Currently, he’s pedaling a novel chronicling the lives and times of members of a cell of terrorists in Europe, completing a collection of essays on high technology delusions, and can be found barking at Progressive Pilgrim Review.

December 11, 2018
Eric Draitser
AFRICOM: A Neocolonial Occupation Force?
Sheldon Richman
War Over Ukraine?
Louis Proyect
Why World War II, Not the New Deal, Ended the Great Depression
Howard Lisnoff
Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.
Mark Ashwill
A “Patriotic” Education Study Abroad Program in Viet Nam: God Bless America, Right or Wrong!
Laura Flanders
HUD Official to Move into Public Housing?
Nino Pagliccia
Resistance is Not Terrorism
Matthew Johnson
See No Evil, See No Good: The Truth Is Not Black and White
Maria Paez Victor
How Reuters Slandered Venezuela’s Social Benefits Card
December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail