Laugh it Off…

I feel like the fabled frog in the fabled pot of hot water. I know it’s getting warm and there’s a danger my frogish ass will get cooked if I don’t get out of the pot… but where’s my lifeline?

Here’s my problem: The heat of impeachment is rising. Congressional committees are working through the night. Both parties are stewing in their juices. Temperatures are climbing, voices more strident. Articles of Impeachment have been drafted, and pundits are frothing at the mouth, and just this morning, Rudolph Giuliani returned to the White House to report on his latest escapades in Ukraine, and they’re all driving me crazy. 

Republicans are screaming about “process” while the House Dems are rushing to impeach without exhausting their legal remedies – something every first-year law student learns not to do. Good lawyers don’t litigate without all the evidence they need, and they need Bolton, Pompeo, Mulvaney, Kushner, and Giuliani under oath before they take it to the Senate. The old impeachment cake is half-baked without their court-ordered testimony and all the documents the White House has been holding back.

It’s painful to watch, so I’m working on an alternative survival strategy. Last week, I wrote about weaning myself from the daily news cycle. So far, those results have been marginal, but I’m on the right track. I’d rather be hiding out on a beach in Southeast Asia, but that’s not in the cards at the moment. Maybe later. Instead, I’m going with the strategy laid out by Norman Cousins in his groundbreaking 1964 book, Anatomy of an Illness.

Cousins was an American journalist and editor of the Saturday Review. In 1964, battling a life-threatening disease, he wrote a book that changed many lives, including his own. After conducting research on the biochemistry of human emotions, he developed the theory that laughter could be an effective tool in a patient’s recovery. The book was an enormous success and survival strategy for Cousins and others. Told by his doctors that he had one chance in 500 of recovery, he recovered and lived a full life, dying 26 years later at age 75.

Faced with 11 more months of breathless reporting on Trump’s lies, impotent protestations from impeachment-obsessed Democrats, righteously truth-denying Republicans, and the frenzied Fourth Estate, I’m planning to treat my own emotional health with a heavy dose of humor in the hope that I’ll be able to laugh my way to the 2020 Presidential election. 

My emotional recovery began with the documentary Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins. I confess my education was deficient until two years ago when M and I spent three weeks crossing the great state of Texas with Gar and Mollie Lasater, two long-time friends from Fort Worth. They introduced us to Ivins’ humor and to Lawrence Wright’s God Save Texas, a rollicking ride through the Lone Star state’s oil, cattle, and government history. We’ve been laughing hard ever since. 

Molly Ivins was a take no prisoners political humorist whose books include You Got to Dance with Them What Brung YouPolitics in the Clinton Years and ShrubThe Short but Happy Political Life of George W. Bush. One can only imagine what she would have done with Trump (see above). Unfortunately, she passed away in 2007 at the age of 62, but she left us with a treasure trove of political humor.

You’ve got to love a woman who names her dog Shit. She was definitely a Texas original, but from a strain of Texans with Eastern roots. Like our friends, Gar and Mollie, who are 3rd/4thgeneration Texans with legacies to Vassar and Princeton, Molly Ivins left the River Oaks neighborhood in Houston to attend Smith College, the Institute of Political Science in Paris, and earn a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism. She paid her dues at the Minneapolis Tribune and New York Times before returning to Austin as a syndicated columnist for the Fort Worth Standard.

Her comments on Texas politics and politicians were classics, e.g. “If you took all the fools out of the Texas legislature it would not be a representative body anymore,” and “Every two years, one of the most hotly contested elections in Texas is the poll taken among members of the capitol press corps to determine who are actually the ten stupidest members of the Legislature. Two years ago, there were thirty-seven official nominees and several write-ins.” 

Molly’s gone now, but her equal-opportunity political observations remain as do her successors – Jon Stewart, Maureen Dowd, Bill Maher, SNL, and Stephen Colbert. I’ll continue to go back to Molly’s well, but there is plenty of fresh material and I plan to laugh until November of 2020 when the Trumpian circus folds its tent, pardons all its felons, and stuffs its pockets on the way out of town.

“I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part and discuss it only with consenting adults.”


  1. Molly Ivins has given me many reasons to laugh over the years. My favorite: her description of the a day in the Texas Legislature from the book, She Can’t Say That, Can She?

    Molly describes an all out brawl on the floor of the House involving legislators, Texas Rangers and flying chairs. It got more entertaining when four legislators cornered a microphone and began singing Nearer My God to Thee at the height of the whole mess!

    Thank you for the memories!

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