Too Much Crazy: Tom Tomorrow on Right-Wing Madness in the Age of Obama
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Now, on the other side of the divide, what’s your take on some of Obama's more outspoken critics from the left? Are they always, in your view, making fair criticisms? Or …
TT: I think that for the most part, the criticisms I read are very clear eyed and honest. I know that that there’s a lot of controversy, for instance, over the public option. I mean what we have now is this health care bill that mandates the purchase of private insurance. And the reason we have this health care bill is that Obama compromised with people who are now using those compromises in order to try kill the health care bill. You know, these lawsuits about whether that mandate is constitutional or not. You want to know what’s constitutional? The fucking public option. Or better yet, a single-payer system. We know that’s constitutional.
And the thing that I do find really enraging – Obama, as was openly acknowledged in The New York Times before the debate even began, had already traded away the public option to the hospital lobby as a sort of backroom deal to guarantee their support for the bill.
There’s just no defending that. This thing that he led people to believe was a possibility, that many people involved in the debate pretended was still on the table, was actually off the table months and months before the debate even began. And I think that’s an important thing to understand about your president, whether you voted for him or not. I really do. And especially for someone like myself, who has been agitating for a single-payer system for probably 20 years now, honestly, I just found that appalling.
You know, on top of that, all of the delays in various benefits from the legislation kicking in until 2014, that was all designed to keep the upfront costs in check. So it’s really true that the Conservatives, especially within the Democratic coalition, made the unpopular points in the bill.
TT: Yeah. Right.
I mean they created the friction, the points of friction and contention. There’s a lot in there that obviously polls well and is popular.
TT: The more moderate, middle-of-the-road Democrats will tell you that there was no way the bill would have been passed without these compromises. And you know what? We’ll never know because they didn’t even try.
I use humor quite a bit when I write on the blog. But sometimes I wake up in the morning and I read the news and I just can’t. Do you face kind that sense that it’s not funny anymore? This is just not funny. Do you ever have that kind of sense of burnout?
TT: Oh, yeah.
How do you work through that?
TT: Well, I think the deadline is a great motivator. (Laughter) It really focuses the mind. I have to put out the work because it’s this thing that I’ve agreed to do. It's my job, it's what these newspapers and websites are paying me to do. So I find it in myself. And I’ve been doing it for a long time.
But yeah. Hopefully, it doesn’t trickle out into the cartoon too much, but there are definitely mornings where I just feel – I mean, my job requires me to spend a lot of time in the sewer, metaphorically speaking. Reading and thinking about hateful and terrible things. And this art form doesn’t really allow me to rise above that. If you’re a songwriter, or a painter or whatever, you don’t have to be quite as constantly immersed in the sewer as a political cartoonist. But it’s what I do. And I just keep plugging away at it. I don’t know how else to put it.