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You Got to Dance With Them What Brung You

Clinton held office, the Republicans staged a revolution, welfare was reformed – and after four years, Molly Ivins couldn’t hold back any longer. Unapologetically liberal in her concern for the Everyman, Ivins exposes the fatuous and hypocritical in American political life. She takes on the issues: militias, multiculturalism, do-nothing Democrats, virtuously posturing Republicans, out-of-control lobbyists, Rush Limbaugh’s “dittoheads” and down-home Texas politics. Whatever your political persuasion, you’re sure to agree that Ivins is one of America’s sharpest wits.In this, her third volume, Molly Ivins (columnist, NPR commentator, and three-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize) sheds light on the “great clouds of obsfucation” that stymie attempts to clearly analyze President Clinton’s job performance. Ivins stayed a Clinton supporter after most of her fellow liberals bailed–up until 1996, when Clinton signed the welfare “reform” bill. “My expectations of Democratic politicians exceed my expectations of Republicans by only the smallest of margins,” Ivins states ruefully, “but real Democrats don’t hurt children. Clinton did.” Nevertheless, current Clinton bashing defies logic and she provides a levelheaded analysis of the wave of anti-Clinton sentiment by distinguishing between the usual brew of Republican and Democrat animosity and such phenomena as “the well-financed propaganda machine funded largely by Richard Mellon Scaife of Pittsburgh.”

The title flushes out the core concern of the collection. One of the oldest sayings in politics, “You got to dance with them what brung you,” points to the reality that special-interest money rules today’s politics. For Ivins, the centerpiece of corruption is gold, and such inevitable consequences as the tax burden shifting from corporations to individuals; the widening gap between rich and poor. You’ve Got to Dance with Them What Brung You, inimitably bold and broad, attacks racism, homophobia, terrorism; offers a terse and dismally delightful excoriation of the “ineffable” Newt Gingrich; reports on political farces at both the state and national levels. It’s full of incisive gems that offer insight on some of our national extremes (Timothy McVeigh’s obsession with the bizarre and racist book, The Turner Diaries, replete with the bomb recipe that blew up the Murrah Federal Building).

Champion of commonsense and compassion; frank and boldly funny, Molly Ivins has been called by the L.A. Times “H.L. Mencken without the cruelty, Will Rogers with an agenda.” Those of us who love Molly Ivins read her for her gutsy, lively, liberal values, and those of us who don’t … should.

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