The Magazine

Oh! Molly!

The theater pays tribute to a famous act.

Sep 17, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 01 • By CHARLOTTE ALLEN
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This latter line—maybe it was supposed to be the “patriot” part of “red-hot patriot”—drew a round of applause from the Arena Stage audience. (This was an audience that also booed every time a photo of Bush appeared on the screen behind Turner.) But by then I was just plain bored. I was thinking, Let’s see, she’s trashed Dubya. She’s trashed H. Dubya. She’s paid her regards to Ann Richards (“Oh, Lord, I loved her!”). This thing has got to end soon.
End it did, because Ivins succumbed to breast cancer at 62, after a gruesome eight-year battle. But the Engel sisters couldn’t help turning even her sad and untimely death into an occasion for a Tom Joad I’ll-be-everywhere exercise in rhetoric, delivered by Turner: “My legacy will be helping people be a pain in the ass to those in power.”

Even Molly Ivins deserved to be more than an ideological cardboard cutout. She was a complicated figure who liked to hang around men, drinking them under the table if need be. She might have detested her Republican father because that’s what Southwestern girls who went to Seven Sisters colleges did. But she yearned for the high-testosterone masculinity that he represented. Of the two boyfriends she had in her youth (she never married), one died in a motorcycle accident and the other was killed in combat in Vietnam. She liked to report on (and be photographed with) the Hells Angels, and heaven knows what she thought of the metrosexuals who staffed the newsrooms where she worked.
So Molly Ivins became something of a masculine figure herself: brusque, obnoxious, aggressively outrageous, with a fishwife mouth—all traits that masked her essential aloneness.

Charlotte Allen is a contributing editor to the Manhattan Institute’s Minding the Campus website.

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