Serious Obama defends his policies on "Daily Show"

WASHINGTON Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:37am EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks with Jon Stewart during a break in the taping of an interview for the Daily Show in Washington, October 27, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks with Jon Stewart during a break in the taping of an interview for the Daily Show in Washington, October 27, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama targeted young voters on Wednesday with a robust defense of his policies and promises in an appearance on the popular comedy program "The Daily Show."

Obama, whose Democrats are expected to suffer big losses in Tuesday's congressional elections, was light on jokes but heavy on policy as he said it would take time to fulfill the pledges he made during the 2008 presidential campaign.

"When we promised during the campaign 'change you can believe in,' it wasn't 'change you can believe in 18 months,'" he told the host, Jon Stewart.

"It was change you can believe in but, you know what, we're going to have to work for it."

Stewart, one of the most influential comedians in the United States, pressed Obama over the gap between his promises and his accomplishments and described the White House's legislative achievements as "timid at times."

That did not sit well with a visibly frustrated president.

"Over and over again we have moved forward an agenda that is making a difference in people's lives each and every day. Now is it enough? No," Obama said.

"I expect and I think most Democrats out there expect that people want to see more progress."

After achieving healthcare reform and an overhaul of financial regulation during the first half of his term, Obama highlighted energy and immigration reform as issues that would be on his agenda in the next two years.


Stewart needled Obama for promising change but hiring people with long Washington careers such as Larry Summers, his top economic adviser, who served as secretary of the Treasury under former President Bill Clinton.

Obama said Summers was integral in navigating the economic crisis that faced Obama at the start of his term.

"If you told me two years ago that we're going to be able to stabilize the system, stabilize the stock market, stabilize the economy and, by the way, at the end of this thing it will cost less than 1 percent of GDP ... I'd say we'll take that," Obama said to applause from the audience.

"In fairness, Larry Summers did a heck of a job," he continued, using the same infamous phrase his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, used to describe the discredited former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael Brown, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

"You don't want to use that phrase, dude," Stewart said.

"Pun intended," Obama replied.

Summers is due to leave the Obama administration at the end of this year to return to teaching at Harvard.

Comedy Central, the network that broadcasts Stewart's show, says the program has an audience of roughly 3.6 million U.S. viewers per episode, including 2.2 million in the 18-49 age range. Many more watch the show on the Internet.

Young voters helped propel Obama to the presidency in 2008 and the White House hopes his presence on programs like "The Daily Show" will help cement support for Democrats in Tuesday's election.

Obama ended his appearance by urging Americans to vote.

(Additional reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

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Comments (19)
giveitthought wrote:
“Critical parts of the coalition that delivered President Barack Obama to the White House in 2008 and gave Democrats control of Congress in 2006 are switching their allegiance to the Republicans in the final phase of the midterm congressional elections, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

Republicans have wiped out the advantage held by Democrats in recent election cycles among women, Roman Catholics, less affluent Americans and independents. All of those groups broke for Obama in 2008 and for congressional Democrats when they grabbed both chambers from the Republicans four years ago, according to exit polls.

If women choose Republicans over Democrats in House races Tuesday, it will be the first time they have done so since exit polls began tracking the breakdown in 1982.

The poll provides a glimpse of a nation so politically disquieted and disappointed in its current trajectory that 57 percent of the registered voters surveyed said they were more willing to take a chance this year on a candidate with little political experience. More than a quarter of them said they were even willing to back a candidate who holds some views that “seem extreme.”

On the issue most driving the campaign, the economy, Republicans have erased the traditional advantage held by Democrats as the party seen as better able to create jobs; the parties are now even on that measure. By a wide margin, Republicans continue to be seen as the
party better able to reduce the federal budget deficit.”

Unable to reinvent reality, and erase his “accomplishments” of the past two painful years, Mr. Obama is trying anything, anything possible, to get voters to forget what he’s done. Sorry BHO, we aren’t that forgetful. So throw some more blame around, and blather on about “the mess you inherited,” because those old diatribes are just what we want to hear.

Enjoy your two remaining lame duck years.


Oct 27, 2010 11:23pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
GeyeJo wrote:
Jon Stewart, – brainwashing naive college kids who have no understanding of costs to vote only on emotions. Comedy and politics are a dangerous mix…

Stewart has a great personality, but mixing a joke with bad politics, dangerously manipulates people’s views. I was that naive college kid less than a decade ago and wish that new voters would think through the full consequences of what he is saying.

Example: Why don’t we just take 25% of what big companies make and give it directly to the unemployed?
Emotional response : Great! Those evil corporations make too much anyway and it will help those in need.
Reality : Those corporations will have to lay off thousands of workers and the unemployed will have no incentive to go back to work and it will only help them for a limited amount of time. In the end, even more people will be unemployed.

The economy seems simple at first glance, but there are domino effects that only using your head will allow you to see. Think it through and don’t let some comedian manipulate you from what you think is right.

Oct 27, 2010 11:30pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
His oratory is so impressive to children. Mom and dad, my disaffected college professor told me I should fight the system which prevented him from getting a job in the private sector. We’re the generation to get things accomplished, right?

No, generation X and Y couldn’t have the bar lowered enough, and your college professor is an also ran. Keeping up with the Kardashians will be on E! soon, but I really think your slow-witted ilk should be learning Chinese instead.


Oct 27, 2010 12:27am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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