Obama Talks Politics, Presidenting, and Police in Final Letterman Appearance


It hasn’t exactly been lost in all the hullabaloo surrounding David Letterman’s departure from the Late Show, but President Obama’s eighth and final visit to the Ed Sullivan Theater last night was a great reminder that Dave conducts a damn fine interview (see also: impeached Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich). After a Will Ferrell/Harry Caray cameo for the second time in less than two months and the usual pleasantries (“I know you like Michelle a little more than me. I’m sure you’re not alone.”), the two got down to some pretty serious business for the next half hour: The plight of returning veterans, and the systemic racial issues that have led to so much unrest in pockets of the country.

Like any good interviewer, Letterman knows when to just listen. The president got to talk in large, uninterrupted chunks, making sure not to lay blame at all police officers (“This is not just a policing problem.”) while also recognizing the lack of trust between the police and some communities, and touting the White House’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, possibly reaching an audience that wouldn’t necessarily seek out this kind of information. And Dave still got to leave his stamp on the topic at hand: “[Racism]’s like tuberculosis coming back. You think, ‘Now wait a minute, I thought that had been taken care of.'”

The episode is available in its entirety over at CBS.com, and it’s well worth a watch, if not for the nourishing discourse on race relations in America, then for this exchange:

“Is this the first country you’ve presidented?”

“It is, I suspect, the first and last country that I’m presidenting. And unlike late night talk hosts, I am term-limited.”