Jon Stewart's last 'Daily Show' with President Obama: The moments we're still talking about
As we discussed yesterday, last night’s episode of The Daily Show marked President Obama’s seventh and final appearance on the comedy news show before host Jon Stewart steps down on August 6 (Where has the time gone?!). The two have shared a pretty special relationship over the past decade, with The Daily Show providing President Obama access to that oft-discussed, rarely-understood demographic known as millennials while President Obama giving The Daily Show loads of political clout just by showing up.
Accordingly, this last (official) meeting between the two was every bit as entertaining and informative as you’d expect it to be. Here are the highlights:
President Obama issues a new executive order on-air
“What do you got now?” asked Stewart. “You’ve also [got] senioritis, yes? What do you got? About a year?”
“I can’t believe you’re leaving before me!” said Obama. “In fact, I’m issuing an executive order that Jon Stewart cannot leave the show. It’s being challenged in the courts.”
The president feels that many of his most hotly-contested policies are just now starting to bear fruit
“Iran, for example, we put those sanctions in and methodically built pressure on Iran over the course of four or five years to get them to the table to then negotiate,” said Obama. “It finally comes to fruition, but it represents a lot of work.”
He went onto to discuss the now-clear merits of the Affordable Care Act and his administration’s climate change policy.
The Iran deal is proof that diplomacy is a suitable alternative to aggression
As Jon Stewart points out, the U.S.’s previous inroads to the Middle East were paved with violence and short term solutions.
“But it’s interesting to me that our strategies in the Middle East have been we’ve tried invading a country, throwing a tremendous amount of money into training their army, 100,000 troops being the safety net of that country, holding it together,” says Stewart. “We’ve tried bombing a country, Libya, deposing a leader. We’ve tried arming militant groups in the hopes that the weapons would get in the right hands. But this new thing, you called it earlier, diplomacy. That sounds interesting.”
“The key issue here is that if we are able to negotiate peacefully Iran not having a nuclear weapon, they’re still going to cause us problems in various areas, we’re still going to have enormous differences with them…but we will have taken off the table what would be a catastrophic strategic problem if they got a weapon,” responded Obama.
President Obama worries that the media is poor at focusing on issues that matter…though it’s not totally their fault
“It’s not that [the media] is unfair or it’s too tough on government because I think that that’s what journalism and media’s supposed to be doing,” said the president. “I think it gets distracted by shiny objects and doesn’t always focus on the big, tough choices and decisions that have to be made and part of that is just the changing nature of technology. It is very hard now for folks to do an hour-long special on the Other America, let’s say.”
When Stewart asked if maybe that had to do with President Obama coming across as too rehearsed, the president admitted that “probably early on you’re more cautious” when you enter the White House and that he also thinks that “the structure inside the White House is not as well adapted to this new environment. We were way too slow in trying to redesign and re-engineer the White House Press Office so that we could have more unconventional interactions with the media.”
The president is on-board with selective service
As Jon Stewart pointed out, less than one percent of the nation’s families bear the brunt of U.S. involvement in wars abroad. So, he suggests the use of a selective service program that would encourage more people to have a “real sense of shared sacrifice” by serving their country.
“I think it would be a wonderful idea for us to think about how we build on the national service that currently exists and expand it,” said Obama. “Now…how young people respond will be interesting. The best education I got…was working in low-income neighborhoods as an organizer not knowing necessarily what I was doing, but knowing that I wanted to commit myself to something that was bigger than me.”
OK, now that you’ve read the highlight reel, check out the entire 3-part interview (starting with part 1, below), because it’s absolutely worth your full attention.
(Image via Comedy Central)