Last night, President Obama made his final appearance on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.Now that he’s seven years into his presidency, it seems he’s figured out the fastest way to tap into the desires of the American people: through Stewart fandom. In a joke statement that — if it hadn’t been a joke — would have likely been Obama’s most unanimously accepted (at least within the American Left) bit of legislation, the President said that he’s “issuing an executive order that Jon Stewart cannot leave.”
From there, Stewart kicked off the discussion with some presidential small talk (which for anyone else is, of course, very large talk), mentioning the ebb and flow of every administration, and beginning to ask, “Do you feel like seven years in —” to which Obama self-deprecatingly interjected, “I finally know what I’m doing?”
Obama went back through some of the key issues throughout his presidency — health care and climate change for starters, and then landed on the nuclear deal in Iran. He used this moment to assure viewers that they’ve “taken off the table what would be a catastrophic problem if they got a weapon,” while also making fun of critics of his diplomacy, summarizing their complaints:
‘If you had brought Dick Cheney to the negotiations everything would be fine.’
Stewart, as usual, wasn’t just offering Obama a platform to talk about successes — he questioned the slowness of progress re: the Department of Veterans Affairs and long wait times for care — with which Obama had, earlier that day, discussed his own dissatisfaction.
As Obama neared the end of the interview, he emphasized that, with Iran, we’re facing a “huge issue” of war or peace — “either we stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon through diplomacy or we have a military option” with people “reprising some of the same positions we saw during the Iraq war,” and he said these people need to hear from citizens to prevent them from making “bad decisions.” He concluded on a note of encouragement for people to be politically active and informed:
The one thing I know as I enter the last year of my presidency is the country is full of good and decent people, and there is a sense of common purpose at the neighborhood level, and in the school and in the workplace, and that dissipates the further up it goes because of all the money and the filters and the polarizing that takes place in terms of how our politics are shaped. But the only way to prevent that is by people getting involved… I guarantee you that if people feel strongly about making sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon without us going to war, and that is expressed to Congress, than people will believe in that. If people are engaged, eventually the political system responds.
Right before Stewart bid Obama farewell, he sneakily tried to bait him into trash-talking The Donald, asking if this was the advice he wanted “to bequeath to future President Trump,” to which Obama responded with diplomatic sarcasm, saying, “I’m sure the Republicans are enjoying Mr. Trump’s dominance of their primary.”
Watch Part 2 of the interview at Comedy Central. Here’s Part 3: