Cover image for Who let the dogs in? : incredible political animals I have known
Title:
Who let the dogs in? : incredible political animals I have known
Author:
Ivins, Molly.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Random House, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
xix, 356 pages ; 25 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781400062850
Format :
Book

Available:*

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Summary

Summary

The dazzling, inimitable Molly Ivins is back, with her own personal Hall of Fame of America's most amazing and outlandish politicians--the wicked, the wise, the witty, and the witless--drawn from more than twenty years of reporting on the folks who attempt to run our government (in some cases, into the ground). Who Let the Dogs In? takes us on a wild ride through two decades of political life, from Ronald Reagan, through Big George and Bill Clinton, to our current top dog, known to Ivins readers simply as Dubya. But those are just a few of the political animals who are honored and skewered for our amusement. Ivins also writes hilariously, perceptively, and at times witheringly of John Ashcroft, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, H. Ross Perot, Tom DeLay, Ann Richards, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, and the current governor of Texas, who is known as Rick "Goodhair" Perry. Following close on the heels of her phenomenally successful Bushwhacked and containing an up-to-the-minute Introduction for the campaign season, Who Let the Dogs In? is political writing at its best.


Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Two decades of Ivins's smart, acerbic political commentary have been harvested for this highly entertaining collection, which includes a new introduction addressing what she calls our country's current "state of open corruptness and intellectual rot." Though a self-described liberal, Ivins is not inflexibly tendentious. Rather, she is a tonic against the mean-spirited pundits found on both sides. She criticizes the Bush administration plenty, but she also reserves some of her sting for Clinton and Kerry. Ivins's delivery is wonderful. Her crisp yet throaty Texan voice is firm and authoritative, but at the same time inviting and homey, and the twinkle in her eye is aurally palpable through the pluck and elfish spunk in her voice. Those who are wary of picking up this audiobook because it's abridged should think again. There's no question that Ivins (Bushwacked, etc.) is a great oral, as well as literary, entertainer, just as there's no denying her genuine concern over the country's current political situation. "Having fun while fighting for freedom," she says, "is one of my life causes." Simultaneous release with the Random hardcover (Forecasts, July 12). (July)n (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Excerpts

Excerpts

Introduction   The editor of this book is Jonathan Karp, an alarmingly bright young man who appears to be about fourteen years old. He says he considers this my "career retrospective."   "Jonathan," I explained, "that makes me feel slightly dead."   So here I sit with a smart kid's selection of "my best work," trying to figure out if it means anything. Do we have a Theme here? Are there Underlying Meanings? Refrains? Have I done anything for forty years except laugh at the perfectly improbable nincompoops who get themselves elected to public office?   I guess the most amazing refrain is that I still love politics, and I think it matters to every American in more ways than most of them ever guess. Also, I still think it's funny. I consider that especially moving testimony, given that American politics is in a state of open corruption and intellectual rot.   I have been optimistic to the point of idiocy my whole life, a congenital defect. I assumed that as I grew older I would become an unnaturally cheerful old fart. Instead, I find both journalism and politics, the two fields I have cared about most, in a parlous state, and rather than coasting out on a long, merry burst of laughter, I am buckling up for what looks like a last hard stand against Mordor. Natch, I'm sure we'll win. But we need a trumpet call in here--for attention, for help, to battle. Now is the time for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of their country. Attention must be paid. Work needs to be done.   I may be an optimist, but I am also as frightened as I have been for this country since the Saturday Night Massacre under Richard Nixon, when I really thought he might call out the troops. In a different way, almost with our permission, I think we're that close to losing all of it - the Constitution, freedom, rule of law, even the dream of social and economic justice.   Did you know that in nineteenth-century America, politics was the entertainment that more than filled in for both television and movies? It was the equivalent of all the college and professional sports teams added together--people listened to politicians giving loooong speeches as though . . . as though their lives depended on it. It was considered better than the zoo, better than the circus, better than the Friday Night Lights. And it wasn't about who won or lost, it was about how your life would turn out. Americans understood that; they knew their decisions mattered.   Where did it go, that understanding? When did politics become about them--those people in Washington or those people in Austin--instead of about us? We own it, we run it; we tell them what to do; it's our country, not theirs. They're just the people we hired to drive the bus for a while. I hear people say, "I'm just not interested in politics." "Oh, they're all crooks anyway." Or "There's nothing I can do."   Because I have been writing about politics for forty years, I know where the cynicism comes from, and I would not presume to tell you it is misplaced. The system is so screwed up, if you think it's not worth participating in, then give yourself credit for being alert. But not for being smart. How smart is it to throw away power? How smart is it to throw away the most magnificent political legacy any people has ever received? This is our birthright; we are the heirs; we get it just for being born here. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men [and women!] are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it." More than two hundred years later, people all over the world are willing to die for a chance to live by those ideals. They died in South Africa, they died at Tiananmen Square, they're dying today in Myanmar.   Don't throw that legacy away out of cynicism or boredom or inanition: "I'm just not interested in politics." "There's nothing I can do."   You have more political power than 99 percent of all the people who have ever lived on this planet. You can not only vote, you can register other people to vote, round up your friends, get out and do political education, talk to people, laugh with people, call the radio, write the paper, write your elected representative, use your e-mail list, put up signs, march, volunteer, and raise hell. All your life, no matter what else you do--butcher, baker, beggarman, thief/doctor, lawyer, Indian chief--you have another job, another responsibility: You are a citizen. It is an obligation that requires attention and effort. And on top of that, you should make it into a hell of a lot of fun.   Having fun while fighting for freedom is, as you will see from this book, my major life cause. I see no reason why we should not laugh, and in fact I think we should insist on it.   So if all this is so gloriously funny, what went wrong? We won the cold war after fifty years, and suddenly our politics is sour, angry, ugly, full of people who can't discuss public affairs without getting all red in the face. The tendons stand out in their necks and their wattles start to shake like a turkey gobbler's. Good grief.   Plenty of blame to go around for this revolting development, but those who deliberately corrupt our language for political advantage deserve some special ring in hell. One is Rush Limbaugh, a silly man. Another is Newt Gingrich, who has done much to poison the well of public debate: "sick," "twisted," "pathetic," "bizarre," "traitor."   But I think far more damaging is the planned, corporately funded, interlocking web of propaganda--the think tanks underwritten by corporate funders, the "academic journals" underwritten by corporate funders, and right-wing newspapers, radio, and television, not to mention low-life, bottom-feeding scandal-mongers, all funded by huge right-wing money. Hillary Clinton once called this "a vast right-wing conspiracy," but it is not. It is all right there, out in the open; it has been growing before our eyes for more than thirty years for anyone to see.   Coming up in East Texas, I knew many racists and batshit John Birchers, as well as a few splendid Goldwater libertarians. For a long time, "conservative" was just another word for "racist" in Texas: some were more polite than others. I first ran across another form of conservatism in the Rocky Mountains in the late 1970s as the "Sagebrush Rebellion" or "Wise Use" movement, corporate-funded anti-environmentalism.   From the beginning, it was all about right-wing money--H. L. Hunt, Coors, Mellon-Scaife--that old batty anti-New Deal money that was always behind the Republican right. They were against taxes on rich people and against taxes on business, didn't want limits on pollution, didn't want limits on exploiting natural resources. Greed is good, the market is God--same old sorry claptrap we have heard since the era of the robber barons. Unleash capitalism and everything will be dandy, as though Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman were actually saying anything new. Sheesh.   Having been born and raised amongst foot-washing Baptists, I've never considered them strange or Other. They are my friends, my neighbors, and my kinfolk. Good people--they care for the sick and visit shut-ins, and they have the best hymns. They didn't used to be political. I suspect that changed for three reasons: Roe v. Wade; soi-disant (as we often say in Lubbock) sophisticates who created resentment by dissing and dismissing believers; and manipulation by political professionals. Abortion is an issue over which one of the sides is unable to agree to disagree. The obvious and perhaps flip answer on abortion is that if you believe abortion is murder you shouldn't have one. If you believe that every fertilized human egg is in fact the precise equivalent of a full human being, no one, including the government, should be able to force you to have an abortion.   People (especially men) tend to be uncomfortable with discussions of female plumbing, so I apologize for bringing up what an old friend calls "dank, womblike subjects." Still, approximately one fourth of all fertilized eggs are swept out on the menstrual tide before they even get near to implanting themselves in the uterine wall, and we do not hold funerals over Kotex or Tampax. I suggest to you this means that the beginning of life is not a single specific event, but rather a process that deserves increasing respect as it continues toward birth--precisely the tripartite system set up under Roe v. Wade (and if you hear Roe v. Wade described as "abortion on demand," you are listening to a liar).   I respect those who oppose abortion, but I do not think they have a right to use the law as an instrument of coercion against people who do not believe (and it is a matter of faith) as they do. They have no right to make this decision for someone else, nor does the government. Some women do not have the physical, psychological, or economic resources to bear a child. There were an estimated one million abortions a year in this country before Roe. Abortion can be safe and legal, or dirty and illegal. It cannot be stopped.   The anti-choice crowd have every right to make their arguments, but I think they are being used. Ditto the people who think gays are an abomination. I do not think the Christian right is driving what is happening in this country politically, nor is it even an equal partner with economic fundamentalism. There's a large extent to which the Christian right is being played for a bunch of suckers by country club conservatives who are interested in nothing more than their own pocketbooks.   Excerpted from Who Let the Dogs In?: Incredible Political Animals I Have Known by Molly Ivins All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.