Obama Has a Lesson for Trump in Final Daily Show Appearance
Tuesday night President Barack Obama announced his next executive order: “Jon Stewart cannot leave The Daily Show. It’s being challenged in the courts,” he added slyly. The quip opened Obama’s seventh and final sit-down with the soon-to-depart Stewart and his third while POTUS, this time taking up the episode's full half-hour (with more of the interview up on The Daily Show’s website.)
After Stewart’s tongue-in-cheek notice that the Commander in Chief was “running out of time” to take away citizens’ guns, “declare martial law” and place “hard-working Americans in detention camps,” the president responded by talking about such accomplishments of his administration as the Affordable Care Act, his desire to work more on climate change and the long haul to get a deal to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.
While Stewart asked questions silly and more often serious, Obama defended his controversial Iran deal as “cutting off four different pathways” through which Iran could acquire nuclear weapons and “unprecedented mechanisms” to catch violations and put back sanctions on the Middle Eastern country. Even while comparing the deal with past negotiations with the Soviet Union ("The Evil Empire which was a much greater threat," he said), the president's mood seemed upbeat and comfortable with Stewart even as the comic host grilled him. “We’re not being taken to the cleaners,” Obama insisted.
After a commercial break—even the POTUS is subject to them—the conversation turned to the media. While admitting that “there are some that get on my nerves more than others,” he mostly defended journalists' need to be tough on government, though he mentioned that the media “sometimes gets distracted by shiny objects and doesn’t always focus on big tough decisions that have to be made.” He talked about what he called the changing nature of technology and how the White House media office was a little slow in adapting to social media. He also said that he believed that “problems in the White House’s interaction with the media is overstated” and seemed to bemoan “the balkanization of the media” with people looking to reinforce their points of views, rather than sharing a common reference point.
After Stewart proposed some kind of national service for students (though open to old people like himself), Obama threw out the idea of college scholarships for such service and spoke warmly of his education as an organizer in poor communities.
After the president professed that "'if people are engaged, eventually the political system responds despite the money, despite the lobbyists,” Stewart ended the interview by asking him: "After seven years, is that the advice that you then bequeath to future President Trump?”
Letting the audience laughter die down, Obama answered, “I’m sure the Republicans are enjoying Mr. Trump’s predominance of their primary.”
“Anything to make them look less crazy,” Stewart snarked in response.
Stewart, like the rest of the media, just couldn’t control his Trumpomania.