By Molly Ivins
AUSTIN, Texas—Dear desperate Democrats:
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.
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, www.creators.com.