Like so many others, I'm very sorry that Molly Ivins has passed. She was funniest when she was being cruel to the misguided and pompous, such as in this hysterical review of Camille Paglia's absurd Sexual Personae: Art & Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson:
What we have here, fellow citizens, is a crassly egocentric, raving twit. The Norman Podhoretz of our gender. That this woman is actually taken seriously as a thinker in New York intellectual circles is a clear sign of decadence, decay, and hopeless pinheadedness. Has no one in the nation's intellectual capital the background and ability to see through a web of categorical assertions? One fashionable line of response to Paglia is to claim that even though she may be fundamentally off-base, she has "flashes of brilliance." If so, I missed them in her oceans of swill.Paul Krugman, an admirer although not a personal friend of Ivins, did us the favor of going over her old columns regarding the disastrous Iraq war, and noted again and again how prescient she was about the quagmire, about the civil war, and about the "batty degree of triumphalism" that America found itself in. He concludes:
One of her latest efforts at playing enfant terrible in intellectual circles was a peppy essay for Newsday, claiming that either there is no such thing as date rape or, if there is, it's women's fault because we dress so provocatively. Thanks, Camille, I've got some Texas fraternity boys I want you to meet.
There is one area in which I think Paglia and I would agree that politically correct feminism has produced a noticeable inequity. Nowadays, when a woman behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, "Poor dear, it's probably PMS." Whereas, if a man behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, "What an
asshole." Let me leap to correct this unfairness by saying of Paglia: Sheesh, what an asshole.
So Molly Ivins — who didn’t mingle with the great and famous, didn’t have sources high in the administration, and never claimed special expertise on national security or the Middle East — got almost everything right. Meanwhile, how did those who did have all those credentials do?She was smart and brave and funny. I will miss her.
With very few exceptions, they got everything wrong. They bought the obviously cooked case for war — or found their own reasons to endorse the invasion. They didn’t see the folly of the venture, which was almost as obvious in prospect as it is with the benefit of hindsight. And they took years to realize that everything we were being told about progress in Iraq was a lie.
Was Molly smarter than all the experts? No, she was just braver. The administration’s exploitation of 9/11 created an environment in which it took a lot of courage to see and say the obvious.
Molly had that courage; not enough others can say the same.