When a sitting president of the United States comes on your show, you have arrived. What was perhaps the most surprising part of President Obama's appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night, was how comfortable it all seemed. The interview was fairly standard, polite, a couple of jokes. Obama seemed more relaxed than Stewart at times, but there was no sense of anyone being that surprised that a President would appear on a comedy show. It's a tribute to how our times have changed, and a tribute to the growing influence on Mr. Stewart himself.
As if to illustrate that, at one point Stewart said that the President's health care reform seemed, "timid." Obama replied this way:
Obama: And this is — Jon, I love your show, but —
Stewart: Very kind of you!
Obama: — but this is something where, you know, I have a profound disagreement with you and — I don't want to lump you in with a lot of other pundits — but —
And then Obama goes on to defend his health care reform as anything but timid. But it's that remark, "I don't want to lump you in with a lot of other pundits," that shows just how much the landscape has changed when a comedian is taken just as seriously as other pundits. And with Stewart's rally this weekend an obvious echo of Glen Beck's rally last month, it seems that the difference between pundit and entertainer is trending towards zero.
Perhaps the funniest moment of the interview was when pressed on why he had brought in former Clinton economic adviser Larry Summers, Obama defended his performance saying, "In fairness, Larry Summers did a heckuva job."
Stewart quickly jumped in, "You don't want to use that phrase, dude." Referring to President George W. Bush saying that to the head of FEMA during Katrina. And possible the first time a sitting president has been called "dude" during an interview.
And Obama looked back, "Pun intended."
The only possible news that came out of it, if it is news, was certainly a signal from Obama that he is in favor of the "nuclear option." Saying at one point "I will tell you that there are a couple of things that have changed in our politics that are gonna have to be fixed. One is the way the filibuster operates. As I said, that's just not in the Constitution." That seems a pretty clear telegraph that there may be some rules changes in the Senate after the election, or at least Obama would like some.