Tim Robbins, Live Man Talking
By Lloyd Grove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 18, 2002; Page C03
Tim Robbins -- a quadruple threat as an actor, director, writer and paleoliberal activist -- will be in town today for a Senate news conference to support increased federal funding for women on welfare and rolling back some of the 1996 reforms signed into law by Bill Clinton.
"I am not, was not, a big Clinton fan," the 43-year-old auteur told us yesterday from Manhattan. "I hear he was a liberal. I hear people described as liberals all the time that I don't tend to agree with. I think the rise of the Southern Democrats and the Democratic Leadership Council has pushed the definition of what's a liberal farther and farther to the right."
So before the ideological template gets bent beyond recognition, Robbins offered a few bracing correctives:
• On President Bush's warnings to Iraq: "We didn't get Osama bin Laden, so okay, fine, let's accept the fact that we didn't get this guy. Let's be smart, if it's really terrorism we want to go after, let's go after terrorism individually and specifically. But I'm against this whole 'Let's bomb a new country because things aren't going our way.' It's 'Let's change the subject from [Vice President] Cheney and Halliburton and the crumbling confidence in the stock market.' Talk about cynical! Because it's the cost of human lives that I resent -- to put American soldiers in harm's way and to do everything to change the subject so that Republicans can keep control of the House."
• On the importance of world opinion: "Europe has serious doubts. Are we going to allow this kind of single-minded sense of purpose to go forward without regard for the world community? Are we going to stand alone? So what if the Saudi royal family decides to offer the use of Saudi bases? Is that world opinion 'coming around'? The Saudis are all about their business deals, not world opinion. . . . We should stay focused on getting the terrorists, but let's not be so arrogant as to believe we can do whatever the hell we want regardless of what the Europeans, the Chinese or the South Americans think. It's not good."
• On the American response to 9/11: "Having been in New York, I witnessed the greatness of humanity and the really incredibly moving way that people responded after the attack -- with Americans ready to help, ready to do whatever they needed to do, to provide support and succor without any thought of personal gain. I fear a great opportunity was squandered by responding the way we responded [in the government]. There was a national will to make things better, and all our leaders could do was encourage us to shop."
• On military action in Afghanistan: "There's a difference between this and past military actions, in the sense that it was retaliation. Although it's not what I would have done, I kind of understand it. I did a movie called 'Dead Man Walking,' and while I'm against the death penalty, I understand the parents' rage."
By the way, Robbins's next movie, due out in October, is a Jonathan Demme political thriller, "The Truth About Charlie."