Liberal Comedy Central host Jon Stewart told Rolling Stone magazine that he has trouble blaming tea partiers for the summer debt ceiling debacle.
“On the whole debt-ceiling thing, you can blame the intransigence of Tea Party Republicans all you want, but Democrats had a chance to pass a budget before they lost in the midterm election,” the Daily Show host said in an extensive interview. “They didn’t do it because they were afraid that those votes would cost them the House. Well, how’d that work out? They had the ability to avoid the entire fucking thing. And they didn’t do it out of cowardice. So I have a hard time mustering sympathy for the argument that a couple of Tea Partiers took Congress hostage. ”
Stewart also said President Obama shouldn’t get a free pass simply because he faces a difficult Congress.
“Was it a factor? Maybe,” Stewart said of the difficulty presented by tea party-linked members of Congress. “But conditions are what they are, and Obama is president. You are judged by how well you negotiate those conditions, not by how excusable the shitty end result is based on that it’s difficult.”
Overall, Stewart is disappointed with the Obama presidency.
“Obama ran on this idea that the system and the methodology are corrupt. It felt like the country was upset enough that he had the momentum needed to re-evaluate how business is done,” he said. “Instead, when he got elected, he acted as though the system is so entrenched that it has to be managed rather than — I don’t want to say decimated, because I’m not an anarchist or a nihilist. But I’m surprised at how much he deferred to the legislative process.”
Stewart added that he recognizes his criticisms might be somewhat unfair considering the challenges Obama faces.
“I recognize my own impatience, and I understand I am incredibly unfair. As someone who does what I do, it’s very easy to say what I say. It’s tougher when you’re actually in it, like he is,” he said.
Asked about the Republican Primary field, Stewart expressed bewilderment that Texas Rep. Ron Paul wasn’t getting more attention given his consistent standing in the polls.
“I love the fact that none of them talk about Ron Paul,” he said. “I don’t understand how a guy with consistent grass-roots support at the level he has is not a part of the conversation. I saw on the news networks, ‘Rick Perry enters the race and immediately jumps in at second place, bumping Michele Bachman down to fourth.’ But they don’t mention, ‘Hey, guess who’s in third place? Ron Paul!”