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Molly Ivins: Run Bill Moyers for President, Seriously

Posted on Jul 24, 2006

By Molly Ivins

AUSTIN, Texas—Dear desperate Democrats:

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Here’s what we do. We run Bill Moyers for president. I am serious as a stroke about this. It’s simple, cheap and effective, and it will move the entire spectrum of political discussion in this country. Moyers is the only public figure who can take the entire discussion and shove it toward moral clarity just by being there.

The poor man who is currently our president has reached such a point of befuddlement that he thinks stem cell research is the same as taking human lives, but that 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians are progress toward democracy.

Bill Moyers has been grappling with how to fit moral issues to political issues ever since he left Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and went to work for Lyndon Johnson in the teeth of the Vietnam War. Moyers worked for years in television, seriously addressing the most difficult issues of our day. He has studied all different kinds of religions and different approaches to spirituality. He’s no Holy Joe, but he is a serious man. He opens minds—he doesn’t scare people. He includes people in, not out. And he sees through the dark search for a temporary political advantage to the clear ground of the Founders. He listens and he respects others.

Do I think Bill Moyers can win the presidency? No, that seems like a very long shot to me. The nomination? No, that seems like a very long shot to me.


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Then why run him? Think, imagine, if seven or eight other Democratic candidates, all beautifully coiffed and triangulated and carefully coached to say nothing that will offend anyone, stand on stage with Bill Moyers in front of cameras for a national debate ? what would happen? Bill Moyers would win, would walk away with it, just because he doesn’t triangulate or calculate or trim or try to straddle the issues. Bill Moyers doesn’t have to endorse a constitutional amendment against flag burning or whatever wedge issue du jour Republicans have come up with. He is not afraid of being called “unpatriotic.” And besides, he is a wise and a kind man who knows how to talk on TV.

It won’t take much money—file for him in a couple of early primaries and just get him into the debates. Think about the potential Democratic candidates. Every single one of them needs spine, needs political courage. What Moyers can do is not only show them what it looks like and indeed what it is, but also how people respond to it. I’m damned if I want to go through another presidential primary with everyone trying to figure out who has the best chance to win instead of who’s right. I want to vote for somebody who’s good and brave and who should win.

One time in the Johnson years, LBJ called on Moyers to say the blessing at a dinner. “Speak up, Bill,” Lyndon roared. “I can’t hear you.” Moyers replied, “I wasn’t speaking to you, sir.” That would be the point of a run by Moyers: He doesn’t change to whom he is speaking just because some president is yelling at him.

To let Moyers know what you think of this idea, write him at P.O. Box 309, Bernardsville, NJ 07924.

To find out more about Molly Ivins and see works by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website,

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By Lauren Reichelt, July 24, 2006 at 10:07 pm Link to this comment
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That’s the best idea I’ve heard in years!  We desparately need to elevate the level of public discourse and to get somebody saying things that people can believe in and talk about…things that are not just soundbites or cliches.  We’ll never get people to participate if we can’t get them to talk to one another about meaningful ideas.  You go, girl!

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By Charles Hillestad, July 24, 2006 at 10:04 pm Link to this comment
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Dear Ms. Ivins,

I agree with you whole heartedly and have been on record myself suggesting Mr. Moyers should be president ever since I read some of his speeches posted on  I also agree he cannot win, but I think it would help our democracy to see him run. 

Unusual for those on the national scene, particularly among the lazy, fearful, crass, coiffed, self important, lemming-like mouthpieces passing themselves off as journalists or even pundits, Mr. Moyers deserves our respect and admiration.  He would be a fine president, although I would worry at least somewhat that the office might silence him if by some miracle he won.  Holding office seems to seems to poison the very best or perhaps they cannot help but be spoiled simply by the wanting of the office bad enough to do all the despicable things that seem to be necessary to win it.

By the way, here is an off the wall suggestion for a vice president running mate.  How about Jon Stewart of the Daily Show?  Although a comedic fake newscaster, his “news” reporting often rings truer than anything on the major networks, CNN or Fox.

He seems like a serious man beneath the comedic facade.  He too is not afraid to say what needs desperately to be said.  He certainly would be a better VP than Quayle or Cheney.

Perhaps even better would be you for high office.  I would love to see what you would have to say on Inauguration Day.

Charles Hillestad
Cannon Beach, Oregon

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By Ron Andrews, July 24, 2006 at 10:01 pm Link to this comment
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Moyers for president of the united states a splendid idea!  Molly you are truly a gem of an human being. thanks

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By FreeDem, July 24, 2006 at 9:39 pm Link to this comment
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Two and a half years ago I heard four people speak at the Florida state convention that I would happily support for President (Actually a fifth but Al Gore wasn’t a choice).

The bottom of that list actually got the top spots, but it was a very high class list, and they merited and got my enthusiastic work and support. THey were also easily the chioce of the majority of folks who went to vote. It didn’t matter.

With the many kinds of vote fraud, Republicans again won the “count”. Untill we repair the broken voting system, no person or platform will have a wit of difference.

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