Tom Morello Calls Paul Ryan a 'Jackass,' is Disappointed in Obama
The Rage Against the Machine guitarist and political activist unloads on both major parties, ripping the GOP's economic plan and accusing the president of war crimes.
Tom Morello pulls no punches.
Now into his third decade of using his guitar to fight for social justice causes, the 48-year old Illinois native is as vocal as ever. In August, Morello made waves when he blasted Wisconsin Rep. and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan for the lawmaker's professed love of his band, Rage Against the Machine, and speaking to The Hollywood Reporter this weekend at Comedy Central's Night of Too Many Stars, he one-upped his slam of the conservative politician.
When asked how he thought Ryan, who has become known as the fiscal architect of the Republican party's free market economic plan, could ever become a fan of Rage, given its leftist-anarchic lyrics, Morello said, "[Rage] is a band that casts the nets really wide, and that’s part of the strength of the band. People are drawn to it by the music, the aggression, the rockingness of it, and then they’re exposed to different ideas. Paul Ryan was a jackass before he listened to it, came out a jackass at the end, so he missed a lot of it."
At the same time, Morello, who supported Barack Obama in his 2008 run for the presidency, says that he is less than pleased with Obama's performance in the White House.
"I drank a little bit of the kool-aid initially," he sighed, referring of the cult of personality around the candidate four years ago. "It looked different than any other president, sounded different than any other president, and then he acted the same as all the other presidents. If you have war crimes on your record, and you still continue to suck at the corporate teat like he does -- my hopes were higher."
He's taken action, too; in the past year, he has become the biggest celebrity advocate of Occupy Wall Street and its offshoot movement. His Nightwatchman solo act has provided the soundtrack to its rise and fall, as he has toured around the country visiting different city's various Occupy encapments. For the most part, governments have pushed perma-protestors out of their tent cities, limiting Occupy's visiblity and influence, but Morello believes their message has worked its way into the conversation around this November's election.
"I think that there have already been great successes. One is, the idea that this horrific economic inequality exists, it’s already something on the front page," he pointed out. "The great, dirty, five letter word you can’t say in America -- class -- is on the front page of the New York Times. When in memory has a Republican candidate had their feet held to the fire because they’re too rich? That’s a result of Occupy. It’s just not okay, when some people are starving to death, and others have six yachts or whatever, that shit’s not cool."
Still, he knows there is much work to be done to advance Occupy's agenda of economic fairness, and it's an uphill climb, given their dispersal. Of the many issues Morello believes are being ignored by both presidential candidates, he believes poverty is the most important and underrepresented.
"It seems like it’s a contest, between the two candidates, who can say the words ‘middle class’ the most," the guitarist groused. "Like, if you say ‘middle class’ the most, you win. Well, half the country is in poverty, kids are going hungry, from West Hollywood to Appalachia tonight. But those people don’t have a lobby, and they don’t donate to the campaign in a way that they’re going to get something back for it."
Email: Jordan.Zakarin@THR.com; Twitter: @JordanZakarin