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2160Molly Ivins Dies of Cancer at 62

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  • Greg Cannon
    Jan 31, 2007
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      http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/01/31/national/a160010S74.DTL

      Molly Ivins Dies of Cancer at 62

      By KELLEY SHANNON, Associated Press Writer

      Wednesday, January 31, 2007

      (01-31) 16:19 PST Austin, Texas (AP) --

      Best-selling author and columnist Molly Ivins, the
      sharp-witted liberal who skewered the political
      establishment and referred to President Bush as
      "Shrub," died Wednesday after a long battle with
      breast cancer. She was 62.

      David Pasztor, managing editor of the Texas Observer,
      confirmed her death.

      The writer, who made a living poking fun at Texas
      politicians, whether they were in her home base of
      Austin or the White House, revealed in early 2006 that
      she was being treated for breast cancer for the third
      time.

      More than 400 newspapers subscribed to her nationally
      syndicated column, which combined strong liberal views
      and populist-toned humor. Ivins' illness did not seem
      to hurt her ability to deliver biting one-liners.

      "I'm sorry to say (cancer) can kill you but it doesn't
      make you a better person," she said in an interview
      with the San Antonio Express-News in September, the
      same month cancer claimed her friend former Gov. Ann
      Richards.

      To Ivins, "liberal" wasn't an insult term. "Even I
      felt sorry for Richard Nixon when he left; there's
      nothing you can do about being born liberal — fish
      gotta swim and hearts gotta bleed," she wrote in a
      column included in her 1998 collection, "You Got to
      Dance With Them What Brung You."

      In a column in mid-January, Ivins urged readers to
      stand up against Bush's plan to send more troops to
      Iraq.

      "We are the people who run this country. We are the
      deciders. And every single day, every single one of us
      needs to step outside and take some action to help
      stop this war," Ivins wrote in the Jan. 11 column. "We
      need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and
      demanding, 'Stop it, now!'"

      Ivins' best-selling books included those she
      co-authored with Lou Dubose about Bush. One was titled
      "Shrub: The Short but Happy Political Life of George
      W. Bush" and another was "BUSHWHACKED: Life in George
      W. Bush's America."

      Ivins' jolting satire was directed at people in
      positions of power. She maintained that aiming it at
      the powerless would be cruel.

      "The trouble with blaming powerless people is that
      although it's not nearly as scary as blaming the
      powerful, it does miss the point," she wrote in a 1997
      column. "Poor people do not shut down factories ...
      Poor people didn't decide to use `contract employees'
      because they cost less and don't get any benefits."

      In an Austin speech last year, former President Bill
      Clinton described Ivins as someone who was "good when
      she praised me and who was painfully good when she
      criticized me."

      Ivins loved to write about politics and called the
      Texas Legislature, which she playfully referred to as
      "The Lege," the best free entertainment in Austin.

      "Naturally, when it comes to voting, we in Texas are
      accustomed to discerning that fine hair's-breadth
      worth of difference that makes one hopeless dipstick
      slightly less awful than the other. But it does raise
      the question: Why bother?" she wrote in a 2002 column
      about a California political race.

      Born Mary Tyler Ivins, the California native grew up
      in Houston. She graduated from Smith College in 1966
      and attended Columbia University's journalism school.
      She also studied for a year at the Institute of
      Political Sciences in Paris.

      Her first newspaper job was in the complaint
      department of the Houston Chronicle. She worked her
      way up at the Chronicle, then went on to the
      Minneapolis Tribune, becoming the first woman police
      reporter in the city.

      Ivins counted as her highest honors that the
      Minneapolis police force named its mascot pig after
      her and that she was once banned from the campus of
      Texas A&M University, according to a biography on the
      Creators Syndicate Web site.

      In the late 1960s, according to the syndicate, she was
      assigned to a beat called "Movements for Social
      Change" and wrote about "angry blacks, radical
      students, uppity women and a motley assortment of
      other misfits and troublemakers."

      Ivins later became co-editor of The Texas Observer, a
      liberal Austin-based biweekly publication of politics
      and literature that was founded more than 50 years
      ago.

      She joined The New York Times in 1976. She worked
      first as a political reporter in New York and later
      was named Rocky Mountain bureau chief, covering nine
      mountain states.

      But Ivins' use of salty language and her habit of
      going barefoot in the office were too much for the
      Times, said longtime friend Ben Sargent, editorial
      cartoonist with the Austin American-Statesman.

      "She's a force of nature," Sargent said.

      Ivins returned to Texas as a columnist for the Dallas
      Times-Herald in 1982, and after it closed she spent
      nine years with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In 2001,
      she went independent and wrote her column for Creators
      Syndicate.

      In 1995, conservative humorist Florence King accused
      Ivins in "American Enterprise" magazine of plagiarism
      for failing to properly credit King for several
      passages in a 1988 article in "Mother Jones." Ivins
      apologized, saying the omissions were unintentional
      and pointing out that she credited King elsewhere in
      the piece.

      She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in
      1999, and she had a recurrence in 2003. Her latest
      diagnosis came around Thanksgiving 2005.

      ___

      Associated Press writers April Castro in Austin and
      Matt Curry in Dallas contributed to this report.
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