R.I.P., Tom Clancy, who had some strong opinions about Congress, among other things

October 3, 2013

Tom Clancy tries out a flight simulator in 1992. (Rich Lipski / The Washington Post)

Updated, Oct. 4:

“One of the problems with Congress, very simply, is those people today have the best jobs they’re ever going to have. They’re failures. Well, that’s a little strong. But if $ 120,000 a year is the best job you’ve ever had, you haven’t really done very much.”

 

Tom Clancy making the case that Congress could use a few more millionaires — like Clancy himself, who when he spoke to the Washington Post Magazine in 1993 was mulling a run for public office. A Maryland native, the insurance salesman launched to almost overnight success when his “Hunt for Red October” became a favorite of President Reagan. A series of wildly successful military and spy thrillers followed, but a decade later, when our former colleague Peter Carlson talked to him, he still had a couple chips on his shoulder. On literary snobs: “Shakespeare . . . was trying to tell good stories that ordinary people could understand and give himself a decent living out of it. Well, I’m in the same tradition.” On Hollywood executives: “They’re highly paid, small, dumb people. They really ought to be running government agencies.” He also showed off the tank in his front yard. Clancy died Tuesday and left behind an interesting obituary: Tom Clancy, author of ‘Hunt for Red October’ and other bestsellers, dies in Baltimore at 66. Also check out this account of how a Post review helped turn Clancy into an unlikely success.

** But you definitely want to read Carlson’s classic profile, written in hilarious mock-Clancy style, though eventually his story subject gets the best of the magazine writer, who “felt as if he’d been chained to a bar stool in some VFW hall somewhere, and forced to listen to the world’s biggest barroom blowhard.”: What ticks Tom Clancy off? , 6/27/93

*** So, did Carlson and Clancy ever talk again after that story?  Well, what do you think? Still, Carlson’s recollections of his time with the great man are amusing; read onward: Tom Clancy and Peter Carlson: Looking back on epic 1993 Washington Post interview

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Amy Argetsinger · October 3, 2013