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Obama faces Stewart on the Daily Show

President Obama and Jon Stewart were themselves last night as the cerebral chief executive fielded questions from the comedically serious host of "The Daily Show." And thank goodness. Nothing is sadder than when someone not known for humor tries to be funny. Obama had a job to do -- talk to young voters (18-29), pray they listen to what he has to say and hope they turn out in big numbers on Tuesday -- and he did it well.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 1
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Stewart channeled the frustrations of progressives and young people from the beginning of the interview when he said, "You ran on very high rhetoric, hope and change, and the Democrats this year seem to be running on 'please, baby, one more chance.'" He continued, "How did we go in two years from 'hope and change,' 'we are the people we've been looking for' to 'you're not going to give them the keys, are you?'" This provided the president the opportunity to rattle off his list of accomplishments. You know the list by now. Prevented another Great Depression. Stabilized the economy. Passed historic health-care and financial regulatory reform. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

To those disillusioned and dispirited by the slow pace of change, Obama counseled that it wasn't change you can believe in in 18 months. He also modified his campaign mantra of "yes, we can" to "yes, we can -- but it's not going to happen overnight." He lauded fellow Democrats representing conservative districts, such as Rep. Tom Perriello (Va.), who took tough votes and are now facing tough reelection battles back home. His implicit message throughout was that he needs Democrats to hold the House if he is to continue making progress on the issues he campaigned on.

An interesting moment came when Stewart asked if the federal government was agile enough to handle the problems and issues it needs to address. Obama zeroed in on the Senate's 60-vote filibuster rule, which "is not in the Constitution" (got that, Tea Partyers?!) and how congressional districts are drawn as two areas in politics that "are going to have to be fixed." The former reduces the need for compromise by either party. The latter leads to extremely safe districts ("90 percent Democrat or 90 percent Republican") that adds to the polarization of the electorate. Obama didn't spell out exactly what he would do to "fix" them.

But those are long-term issues. Obama's more pressing short-term goal was articulated at the very end of the Stewart interview. "Go out there and vote Nov. 2," he said. "A lot of you have early voting in your states make sure...to make use of it." In five days, we'll find out if they did.

By Jonathan Capehart  | October 28, 2010; 7:19 AM ET
Categories:  Capehart  | Tags:  Jonathan Capehart  
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Next: Which Black America will turn out to vote?

Comments

Interesting that Dana Milbank in today's Post doesn't feel that the President did a good job last night.

I am of mixed feelings. The President has had a tough road to hoe. He came into office facing the worst economic times since the recession and two wars. But what the President has failed to do is live up to the rhetoric of the campaign. I know that would have been impossible to do. But the reactions to him now and to the Democratic party by its own members is real and difficult to deal with. There is real palpable disappointment with this administration and this Congress. It gets harder and harder to run on "The other side is worse". They are, but it isn't a rallying cry and "Change takes time" isn't a great one either two years after you won on "HOPE and Change".

So my take is that we will potentially lose the House and keep the Senate. President Obama will hopefully generate enough excitement to save some first and second term dems so the loss in the House isn't quite as disastrous as some predict.

But the real challenge is how he governs with a split Congress. I hope that while he makes concessions to get some things done, he won't abandon his base and the support of the social issues of our generation that make the Democrats the more progressive party. If he does abandon these issues and doesn't speak out and personally lobby forcefully on them, he will find a disillusioned base when he has to run in 2012.

Then he will really have to hope that the Republicans put up someone as far out as Palin where the mantra, "We are really better than the other side" can win the election.

Posted by: peterdc | October 28, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Capehart,

on public display last evening was the arrogant DOLT that we Americans were FOOLED into placing into the WH in 2008. - BHO is going to get his party SLAUGHTERED in just FIVE DAYS.===> it won't even be close.

instead it will be a BLOODBATH for the DIMocRATS because NOBODY, who has even half a brain, sees him as TRUTHFUL or even "a leader" any more. = FACT.

in January 2011, BHO will become America's LAMEST DUCK until he leaves office on 20JAN2013, having succeeded only in making Jimmy Carter LOOK COMPETENT & Richard Nixon LOOK HONEST.

yours, TN46
coordinator, CCTPP

Posted by: texasnative46 | October 28, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Yawn...

Posted by: gmfletcher12 | October 28, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

The leader of the (once) most powerful nation on earth is reduced to the venue of satire and comedy. "Dude", have a little respect for the office.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | October 28, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

Give me a break folks. One of the biggest complaints that people have about Obama is that he has no sense of humor. He took that one head on. Too bad the dems can't accept the fact that they are only 20% of the population. (as an independent I voted for Obama) We need health care. We also need it to be affordable. I think that one of Obama's biggest errors was making a deal with the drug companies to get their support. The other 80% of we American's can count. If we're paying twice as much per citizen for health care as Canada, Britain and Germany without the health-care bill, how are we going to pay for the universal coverage? Neither party has the guts or willingness to tackle that question.

Posted by: Fergie303 | October 28, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Obama did well last night. The problem is the media coverage, which for the most part consists of taking a sound bite out of context and using it as the basis for critiquing the entire interview.

I want to say one thing about rising healthcare premiums...your premiums were going to go up regardless of healthcare reform. If everyone complaining about the rise in their premiums would go back and look at their contributions for the last 5 years or so, people would see a steady increase. If you have not been paying the increase, your employer has.

I've worked as a budget analyst and the 3 and 5 year plans always assume an increase in healthcare and the monthly expenses bear that out.

Posted by: zzishate@yahoo.com | October 28, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

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