Obama does the Daily Show

I agree entirely with Jonah Goldberg’s viewing of the Obama/Jon Stewart interview:

I apologize for not focusing on this pressing matter earlier, but I’ve only just now actually watched the apparently infamous "dude" scene from Obama’s Daily Show appearance. I think everyone’s missing the most revealing part of the exchange (including Dana Milbank). Look, I think calling the president "dude" is inappropriate in almost all circumstances. But one of the circumstances where it’s not is on the Daily Show. You accept an invitation to be on the Daily Show, you should not be shocked that it’s the Daily Show when you get there.

(If anything, I wish Stewart was more consistent. Whenever he’s criticized for his substantive opining he responds "I’m just a comedian." Well, if you’re just a comedian, stay a comedian. The truth is he switches hats and tone depending on the guest — a lot.)

What’s interesting — and obvious by my lights — is that Obama barely even noticed the "dude." He was stung by the fact that Stewart — and the audience — clearly busted the president saying something politically very stupid. Saying that Summers did a "heckuva job" — on the Daily Show! — was a real blunder. Obama is clearly embarrassed that he got busted saying it. And rather than laugh with the audience and at himself he says, entirely unconvincingly, "pun intended."

No it wasn’t. For the record, it wasn’t even a pun.

That surprised me, too – much more than Stewart calling the Commander in Chief “dude” which I doubt I would have thought twice about had I not already read so much “dude” focused commentary. I was also very disappointed that Stewart didn’t bring up DADT, DOMA, or anything in regard to foreign policy. I realize we’re headed into an election, and this is heavy stuff that might tick off liberals and potential Democratic voters, but I thought Stewart would at least mention some of these contentious issues.

As a side note, I probably won’t watch the Stewart/Colbert rallies this weekend – I can think of a number of ways I’d rather spend my afternoon on Halloween weekend. I do wonder if they can make the events as funny as their shows. I know that at previous events like this – such as their joint coverage of the 2008 elections – much of the humor fell flat on its face. I think both Stewart and Colbert are wonderfully funny most of the time, but when they get out of their element – out of the comfort zone of their shows – sometimes it can be a pretty big let down.

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24 thoughts on “Obama does the Daily Show

  1. The context of the two shows are rather diametrically opposed; it’s hard to pull of jokes when you can’t get the whole audience in the same vibe. These guys are both pretty accomplished comics, I’m sort of surprised that they went for a joint affair.

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  2. What I realized later on after watching the interview and pondering my own grievances from the left, was how incoherent Stewart’s gripes were. The Daily Show host was obviously not content to let Obama spin his narrative, but rather than challenging the President on abstract things like “reforming Washington” and hurt feelings over a half-baked health care bill, I would have liked to have seen Stewart take Obama to task on something clear cut, that is, his foreign policy.

    If liberals like myself have one area in which to be extremely disappointed with the President, it’s our nation’s two wars. And yet drone attacks and increased military presence seems to be some of the few things Dems will look the other way on.

    “Well I guess it’s cool if we continue Bush era foreign policy, (after screaming about it for 8 years), but God forbid we don’t get every legislative concession under the sun!”

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    • @Chris, Jonah Goldberg is a keen judge of character and could deduce immediately based on Obama’s posture, tone, and hand gestures that Obama had never intended to make the reference satirically, had been blind-sided by the audience reaction, and (for the record) may even be unclear on what constitutes a pun.

      From this masterful overture we can arrive to the obvious conclusion that Obama we so busy being an elitist snob over his poorly chosen words that he forgot to be an elitist snob over Stewart calling him a “dude”.

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  3. To my mind, what Stewart and Colbert do will be the least interesting element of the rallies this weekend. Lots will be written and said about whatever tone is set by their speeches and skits, with partisans on the right looking for signs to dismiss the event as lefty agitprop and partisans on the left calling the whole thing toothless. Those people will see what they want to see and it will all be a wash.

    But, the crowd could make things really interesting. If a massive crowd shows up AND they embrace Stewart’s call for reasonableness with their own “You’re wrong, but you’re not Hitler” signs (or Colbert’s call for satirical fear), then it would validate Stewart’s stated view that most people are willing to compromise and work things through despite the impression given when the noisemakers on both extremes get all the attention because they are being the loudest.

    That is a very big IF, but it is what I am hoping for this weekend.

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  4. I was also very disappointed that Stewart didn’t bring up DADT, DOMA, or anything in regard to foreign policy.

    I’m with you there. He could have been a lot tougher than he was, and the complaints he made were easily-parried ones because they related either 1.) to topics Stewart doesn’t have in-depth knowledge of (economic issues) or 2.) places where the Republicans have been blatantly obstructionist, so Obama could just blame them.

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