Too Much Crazy: Tom Tomorrow on Right-Wing Madness in the Age of Obama
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TT: One of Glenn Beck’s big influences was a writer named Cleon Skousen, who was a former FBI agent who J. Edgar Hoover eventually turned away from, because he (Hoover) thought Skousen was too crazy. So basically, one of Glenn Beck’s biggest influences is a man who was considered too crazy and too radical by J. Edgar Hoover.
And what about Obama? My sense is that you have the same kind of almost cynical response to his first couple of years as I do where you’re not shocked. You don’t seem shocked and betrayed by the fact that he hasn’t …
TT: No, and I think that’s a very good question. When I do criticize Obama in the cartoon, I get a lot of very negative feedback from his supporters who just don’t want to hear it even though we could run down the litany of disappointments. I’m much happier to have him in office than John McCain and Sarah Palin. Absolutely no question about that. But there have been so many things he’s done that I wish he had been more progressive on. I wish he'd been more of a fighter. I wish he hadn't embraced quite so many of Bush's policies.
But I wasn’t expecting – I do think that too many people were kind of swept up in the idea of Obama. I’m just not big on the cult of personality. I don’t really think that you should invest that much emotion in a politician. I think it’s fine to support the guy you like somewhat better than the other -- the person, I should say, who you are somewhat more aligned with. But then you don’t stop. It doesn’t stop after you cast that vote one time every four years. You push and you prod and you call bullshit on them when they deserve it.
The defense that I got from Obama supporters up to about, oh, I would say three months ago was, “Well, he hasn’t been in office very long. You have to give him time.” And I’m thinking, 'Look at everything George Bush did in his first three months, his first six months. He just rammed stuff through.' There’s no guarantee that Obama’s getting re-elected. And he’s already wasted two years in which he had a solidly Democratic Congress.
I don’t believe in giving the president time. I think the president, the second he walks into the Oval Office, the countdown clock starts ticking. He needs to be taking advantage of every minute.
Let's look forward for a second. These tea party types sweep into power on a wave of incoherent rage, and now they're passing these "birther bills," they're taking over local governments in Michigan and trying to roll back child labor laws in Maine -- all this craziness. The conventional wisdom says that Americans have a tendency to reject the extremes. What's your view of where we're heading -- do you think their overreach will cause a backlash against the right, or might we be headed into a dark new chapter in our history?
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TT: I tend to avoid prognostication, but if there's one thing I have learned over the years, it is never to underestimate the American public's eagerness to embrace truly terrible ideas. Especially in an era when someone like James O'Keefe can drive public discourse -- right into the ditch. A year from now we'll all be obsessing over something we can't even imagine right now, something that seems like it's right out of one of my cartoons. That much, I'm pretty sure about.