The night after Barack Obama's acceptance speech, I spoke with author Tom Clancy about Foreign Policy's "Dream Team" -- the advisors the next U.S. president ought to turn to for advice, regardless of party. Clancy said he wasn't the type of guy to give those types of recommendations, but he did have a few blunt words for America's political class. The following are on-the-record excerpts from our conversation:
On Colin Powell: "He's very smart; he's honest. When he cuts himself shaving he probably bleeds green. He's all soldier, and he's real smart. Maybe the best person I've ever met in my life. I've met a few smart guys in my time. Colin Powell is in the top five. Soldiers as a class of people, especially the four-star variety, they tend to be smart people. If he's ever said anything dumb, I’m not aware of it. Little George should have listened to him."
On Paul Wolfowitz: "Wolfowitz, what a piece of shit he is."
On 9/11: "I knew it had to be Muslims because they're the only people in the world who think there's something good on the other side of death. Osama bin Laden's not a religious figure; he's a politician, and a sociopathic one at that. We haven't gotten him yet, and with all those guys chasing him… I wouldn’t want those guys chasing my little white ass."
On Barack Obama: "Barack Obama's going to be like that. They do things in accordance with their visions. Obama gave a good speech last night. There's no way I'm going to vote for him. But he gave a good speech. How’s he going to eliminate our dependence on foreign oil in 10 years? You don't vote for his skin; you vote for his brain. He gives a great speech, I'll grant him that. But what will he risk his life over? What will he kill over? He's a lawyer; all lawyers do is cut deals."
On politicians: "Hitler was the perfect politician. Politicians are generally people who crave power, and people who crave power tend not to be very nice people. They think it's all their money and if they let us keep some of it they're doing us a favor. Politics is the application of one's aesthetic to the real world. The Soviet Union did that and look where they ended up. Unfortunately. Democrats, generally speaking, are the new Marxists."
On Britain: "The founding fathers said it was a bad idea to have a class system. I love the Brits but their class system is screwed up. They don’t have a constitution, which kind of scares me. If the parliament says take the guns away, they take the guns away. They also make very good beer."
On reporters: "Reporters are not known for original thoughts. I spoke at the National Press Club once and told them, 'At least I do good fiction.'"
On Joe Biden: "I've met Joe Biden. I don’t think he's all that bright. He's pleasant but he's not bright."
On John F. Kennedy: "Camelot is a story of adultery, betrayal and murder. You want to model a presidency on that play? I don't think so."
On the Cuban missile crisis: "Kennedy came across to Kruschev as a pussy."
On Bill Clinton: "His charm is like a physical force. Ever been in the ocean and have the waves come across you? That's what his charm is like. If I was a girl, I would have gotten laid that night. But you sense talking to him he has no character. None. The secret service despised Hillary. They just disliked Clinton. He shit on the military pretty comprehensively. It didn't do the country any serious harm because he didn't care about anything enough to do any harm. I've never run into anybody quite like that before."