On the Daily Show, Obama is the last laugh
(Washington Post) -- by Dana Milbank --
On Comedy Central, the joke was on President Obama Wednesday night.
The president had come, on the eve of what will almost certainly be the loss of his governing majority, to plead his case before Jon Stewart, gatekeeper of the disillusioned left. But instead of displaying the sizzle that won him an army of youthful supporters two years ago, Obama had a Brownie moment.
The Daily Show host was giving Obama a tough time about hiring the conventional and Clintonian Larry Summers as his top economic advisor.
"In fairness," the president replied defensively, "Larry Summers did a heckuva job."
"You don't want to use that phrase, dude," Stewart recommended with a laugh.
Dude. The indignity of a comedy show host calling the commander in chief "dude" pretty well captured the moment for Obama. He was making this first-ever appearance by a president on the Daily Show as part of a long-shot effort to rekindle the spirit of '08. In the Daily Show, Obama had a friendly host and an even friendlier crowd.
But, as in his MTV appearance a couple of weeks ago, Obama didn't try to connect with his youthful audience. He was serious and defensive, pointing a finger at his host several times as he quarreled with the premise of a question...
Still, the president did not really quarrel with Stewart's notion that Obama has done some of his work in a "political manner that has papered over a foundation that is corrupt."
"I think that is fair," Obama granted.
But when Stewart moved, politely, to point out weaknesses in the health-care legislation, Obama pointed at him again. "Not true!" the president argued.
Obama wore a displeased grin as Stewart diagnosed, with high accuracy, the administration's condition: "The expectation, I think, was audacity going in there and really rooting out a corrupt system, and so the sense is, has [the] reality of what hit you in the face when you first stepped in caused you to back down from some of the more visionary things?"
"My attitude is if we're making progress, step by step, inch by inch, day by day," Obama said, "that we are being true to the spirit of that campaign."
"You wouldn't say you'd run this time as a pragmatist? It wouldn't be, 'Yes we can, given certain conditions?'"
"I think what I would say is yes we can, but -- "
Stewart, and the audience, laughed at the "but."
Obama didn't laugh. "But it's not going to happen overnight," he finished.
Try shouting that slogan at a campaign rally, dude...MORE...LINK