Friday, February 02, 2007

Regarding Molly

One of my favorite writers, talking about my dearly-departed favorite writer. God Bless Charles Pierce.

Aw, dammit all to hell.

A year or so ago, we lost a gentle soul named John Ferguson, the first great editor I ever had, who'd cut his professional teeth at The Texas Observer under Kaye Northcott and Molly Ivins. Every great story John had, and he had a rack of them, began with the phrase, "One day, Northcott and Ivins..." and went from there.

So, in 1980, when I met Ms. I. for the first time, I told her that I considered her, if not a professional mother, at the very least, a professional aunt. She got a very big kick out of that. (It was then, I believe, that I passed along the ultimate Boston compliment and told her I thought her work was "wicked smart." Hey, if she can drop the Texas lingo on me ...) When John passed, and she couldn't make the memorial service, she asked us to send along the eulogies we'd read. That was the last time I heard from her.

Now she's gone, and so is Father Robert Drinan, S.J., a brave and decent man who entered The Society (as the Jesuits call it) shortly after my uncle Michael did, and who always returned my calls as a congressman, and as an ex-congressman, because of that. (My European history professor once said that there were only three things you needed to know about European history: the nobility is always corrupt, the middle-class is never ready to take control, and the Jesuits are always being expelled.) Two brilliant troublemakers, gone at a time in which there is so much brilliant trouble to be made.

I think the reason neither of them really fit the role of modern media celebrity -- I mean, Jesus, Gloria Borger is preferable on TV to Molly Ivins? Maureen Dowd is a better writer? Yeah, and I'm the Tsar of all the Russias -- is that they believed too strongly and too genuinely in too many things for an era in which we've spent two goddamn weeks talking about a caesura in a remark Hillary Clinton made in Iowa a flat year before anyone votes there. Molly made a point often of how much she liked good politicians and believed in the political system. And Father Drinan -- I know. I know.

But the honorific is a tic of my Papist heritage that I can't lose -- was deadly serious about deadly serious topics -- war and peace, economic justice. That's not the way we do political commentary -- or politics, alas -- very much any more. What do we get? Michael Kinsley stuffing his IQ into a jar and defending Scooter Libby on the grounds of Business As Usual. Two weeks of idiocy about a caesura in a remark made by Hillary Clinton in Iowa a flat year before anyone votes there. (And let's not get into the fact that the very thought of an HRC candidacy seems to have driven Chris Matthews into some serious brain-fever). Snarky "
Messiah Watches" about Barack Obama.

The worst thing you can do at the Kool Kids table is be either sincere or serious. Sorry, you pack of smug, insufferable bastards -- a war's gone bad and the country's a mess, and you never were funny, anyway, not like Molly was. So go and take your little slambooks and wreck some other profession for a while. The grown-ups have work to do.
via Atrios

No comments: