Barack Obama with Jon Stewart
October 28, 2010 12:28 AM   Subscribe

 
When Obama said Larry Summers did "a heckuva job" I pre-empted exactly what Jon said next. "You don't wanna use that phrase, dude." Indeed.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:49 AM on October 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


As an Australian who has an intense interest in US politics, can I just say that if I could I would vote for this man as President, but man, listening to him talk makes me zone out. It's like I'm hearing him talk about health care, then my eyes glaze over for god-knows-how-long, and then he's talking about 60 votes.

That said, when I wasn't in a trance-like state, he made some good comments in defense of his record. He just needs to find a way to keep people's attention and cut through.
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:58 AM on October 28, 2010


Oh jeez- I must have said it too at the exact same time as Jon Stewart; didn't even hear him say that.
posted by queensissy at 12:59 AM on October 28, 2010


Loved the phrase about politicians who worry more about the next election rather than the next generation. Like Effigy2000 I zoned out after I heard that phrase; I just kept thinking about how much I liked it.
posted by MattMangels at 1:05 AM on October 28, 2010


I find Obama very interesting to watch. He's an excellent communicator with good reactions and instincts.

Look at the way he shut down Jon's assertion that Obama's legislation was timid. As soon as it's clear that Jon is going to criticize Obama's performance, Obama immediately freezes up, a kind of warning to Jon that this is serious. As soon as Obama gets a chance to reply, he shows his discomfort by making a show of searching for the right words, finally settling on "John, I love your show, but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you." And now, it's Obama who is putting Jon on the defensive, who says "the suggestion wasn't that..." And Obama repeats Jon's original words, now far more tenuous after Obama's description of health care, hammering the table with his index.

Obama's boring compared with written sources of information. He is a brilliant communicator though. He consistently emerges from difficult exchanges looking better than before.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 1:18 AM on October 28, 2010 [38 favorites]


My reaction was the polar opposite of Effigy2000. Jon let him talk when he was saying something of substance, and it was nice to hear an American president show the fact that he can do some nuanced thinking, and be unafraid to actually risk boring people with Twitter-era attention spans. It doesn't help politically to eschew soundbites -- not that he didn't fall back on a whole bunch of stock platitudes and phrases -- but it does shore up my conviction that the man's both smart and pragmatic.

Whether that's enough remains in doubt.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:22 AM on October 28, 2010 [16 favorites]




I appreciated that Jon spent some time speaking about how Obama had disapointed some of those who voted for him and it was good to see Obama talk about it. I also had this idea that he would continue to make big speeches like he did during his campaign and try to lead people from the front, define the narrative. Instead he seems to be more of an pragmatic administrator, who gives directions behind the scenes.

I think his parting comment suggesting the rally to restore sanity should have happened two years ago was his way of saying that he wished that he had the sort of popular movement to have been that sort of leader as well.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 1:39 AM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yes, he's eloquent (though he says "you know" too much, but who doesn't) and has made some great accomplishments in the face of almost unprecedented opposition. But there are glaring areas of failure and for some (me included) the extension and expansion of Bush-era "War on Terror"/civil liberties policies are unacceptable. For many progressives it has led to harsh criticism of Obama and his administration. In some of these cases he's gone further than Bush did, enough so that the ACLU said just this summer: "Indeed, on a range of issues including accountability for torture, detention of terrorism suspects, and use of lethal force against civilians, there is a very real danger that the Obama administration will enshrine permanently within the law policies and practices that were widely considered extreme and unlawful during the Bush administration. There is a real danger, in other words, that the Obama administration will preside over the creation of a "new normal."

Does that mean we shouldn't give credit for the accomplishments that he has made? No, it doesn't. And it's some laudable stuff, and he points it out, from health care to financial reform, CHIP, cracking down on credit card companies, all laudable. And yes, many on the left see some or all of this as timid but I personally think it is important to remember the environment that this was accomplished in. An environment where people like Sara Robinson have openly speculated that we may be headed toward fascism. A word brandied about somewhat during Bush the Younger, but during a Democratic administration? I don't think anyone would have thought that on inauguration day 09 we'd be discussing such things in a serious context (even if you disagree with such a premise).

This is getting a bit long but basically - Obama has done some good stuff and some pretty shady stuff. Like all presidents he has his good and bad. It's politics. You have to give to get. And like Clinton, I think Obama often feels that a sacrifice of principles is sometimes necessary. That getting re-elected is just too important to stand only on principle, to not give anything, and get nothing. I think Obama realizes the alternative would be a total and complete disaster, and that by sacrificing some of his principled stands he will be able to greater good for that aforementioned next generation.

That said, I think Democrats, progressives, Communists, socialists, whatever you call yourself, should continue to hammer him on the issues the ACLU points out. But not giving him credit for getting us moving in the right direction isn't really fair either.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:45 AM on October 28, 2010 [31 favorites]


Instead he seems to be more of an pragmatic administrator, who gives directions behind the scenes.

"Yes, we can, but..... it's not gonna happen overnight."
posted by three blind mice at 2:02 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


And like Clinton, I think Obama often feels that a sacrifice of principles is sometimes necessary.

You know, I kind of feel the same way - that there is a presumption that you can let some stuff slide, just for now, and then let other, good stuff get done.

And I kind of went along with it, kind of, through the Clinton years but I'm older now and I've done a lot more stuff and I've come to realize in my personal life that sacrificing principles 9 times out of 10 leads to a world of shit. Leads to things like, state sanctioned torture and a society that puts the desires (not even just the needs, but desires) of large corporations (health insurance, banking, oil companies) ahead of the will of the people they do business with and among.

I recognize that Obama's job (the job of any President) is monstrously more subtle and gray-shaded and nuanced than so reductive a declaration and for each instance there are plenty of good reasons why such-and-such a decision was made instead of this other... but you still have to operate within a moral order and when I read things like the ACLU's statement I can't help but think he's making a pact and selling one facet off to get another. And I don't agree with that. You can't always get what you want, given, but that doesn't mean you let yourself get beaten up with the things you don't get.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:24 AM on October 28, 2010 [18 favorites]


you still have to operate within a moral order and when I read things like the ACLU's statement I can't help but think he's making a pact and selling one facet off to get another. And I don't agree with that. You can't always get what you want, given, but that doesn't mean you let yourself get beaten up with the things you don't get.

I don't disagree with this. I just think we have to be fair, and politics is usually a lot of give for a little geet. And I am not OK with what's happening as far as what the ACLU points out. Obama certainly could have, and still can, act differently on that accord. I think I've made that pretty clear here and before on the blue. But man, the alternatives are just unacceptable. I think it's up to the electorate to try to hold politicians accountable, I'm just not sure how much success regular people like us can have in that arena in John Roberts' America. So yes, I am worried, but I'm not gonna freak out yet, and I'm just gonna try to keep living and doing what I do, hold onto hope, refuse to succumb to cynicism, continue to participate. And maybe occasionally get pissed off on Washington Journal.
posted by IvoShandor at 2:54 AM on October 28, 2010


IvoShandor does the best job I think of accurately summing up our problems with Obama fairly. (BTW, how goes construction of that "Zuul Building" you keep bringing up in the investor meetings?)

Might I suggest, however, that once the show or interview gets its own page on the Daily Show website, that the link be changed to point to that? As it stands it's just a general link to www.thedailyshow.com.
posted by JHarris at 3:03 AM on October 28, 2010


once the show or interview gets its own page on the Daily Show website, that the link be changed to point to that?

I think it takes about two days to get a permalink for Daily Show episodes. They have to cycle through a day or two of reruns first. I'll ask the mods to modify the link when there is one.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:11 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an Australian who has an intense interest in US politics, can I just say that if I could I would vote for this man as President, but man, listening to him talk makes me zone out.

As an American with something of a passing fancy with US politics, can I just say that I had no trouble staying awake at all and thought it was BEYOND REFRESHING to hear someone talking with real nuance about these things, and who was ALSO the President? I really think he had a good point about the fact that U.S. politics tends to be the kind of thing where we get a small bill passed that accretes over time, and that it eventually ends up looking like something very nice?

Of course, on Health Care, it's gotta survive the wave of Republicans who want to repeal the damn thing.
posted by JHarris at 3:27 AM on October 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


(BTW, how goes construction of that "Zuul Building" you keep bringing up in the investor meetings?)

I'm still waiting on an overseas shipment cold-riveted girders, with cores of pure selenium. All this outsourcing. Can't get cold riveted girders of pure selenium in the U.S. anymore. Angola or some such hellhole. Grar. OTOH, since determining humanity is too sick to survive my Gozer worship is going swimmingly.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:27 AM on October 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Might I suggest perhaps switching to Nyarlathotep? I find he tends to be very active politically.
posted by JHarris at 3:39 AM on October 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I agree that it's important to try not to succumb to cynicism and continue to participate. And I also agree that the 'Washington Press Corps is woefully remiss in it's job. But to me this whole, I'll do something good and something less/not good and balance out the one with the other - it's like Johnson and the Vietnam War/ Civil rights thing. Ultimately it is not a fair trade. To be even more reductive about it (if that's possible), it's like, "Here, I'll sell you this beautiful three bedroom house but I'm still going to park my 18-wheeler, the one I use to haul chemical waste around in, in the back, out of sight. You might have head-aches every now and then but hey - Three Bathrooms and I'll even let you build a pool if you want!" There's just something abusive about it, that we are expected to accept that this compromise, health-care reform in exchange for expanded executive branch powers (that are used to degrade human rights here and abroad) when that's not reasonable at all.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:51 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've kind of found Obama speeches and so on pretty boring since he got elected. But once Jon started asking some tougher questions I thought he did pretty well defending himself. Before that though he seemed to be just spouting the same kind of platitudes that all the other "official" Dems seem to love to do. Although he was able to do it in a much more serious, gravitas-infused manner.

I appreciate that there was some acknowledgement of the problems people see. But there was some deflection as well. When Stewart asked about the 'traditional Washington' way that healthcare was passed he kind of deflected it to a problem with the senate, the filibuster and so on, when I think a lot of the problem had to do with "back room deals" with lobbyist groups.

Jon screwed up when he asked about insurance companies raising rates; even I knew there were some limitations. But I didn't know it was state by state and that opens the door for local-level corruption (which can be pretty bad in some states). The real problem with no-public option is the perpetuation of local monopolies, the fact they can drop still drop you (although there is a federal 'high risk' pool, which means tax payers still need to pay) and they can still try and weasel out of actually paying if you do get sick.

I think the interview really showed though that Obama isn't a Bill Clinton character who can do a 1-on-1 interview and really enjoys the back and forth interaction

The irony about bitching about the filibuster, though, when the Dems are close to losing the house is pretty ironic. I can see them ditching it just before 2012 when Sarah Palin gets elected with a senate majority.

---

The main criticism, though, of Obama is the idea that if we just make things better inch by inch we'll eventually get things. The problem is, as Keynes said: In the long run we're all dead. If the ditch this country is in is a mile deep, then inch by inch isn't progress. And if we keep periodically falling backwards, then inch by inch isn't progress either.

It's true that the things progressives and liberals bitch about are the minor details. But the minor details really add up.
posted by delmoi at 3:58 AM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


There's just something abusive about it, that we are expected to accept that this compromise, health-care reform in exchange for expanded executive branch powers (that are used to degrade human rights here and abroad) when that's not reasonable at all.

I hope you know I am with you spirit and belief, (and I was much more bitter at Obama just a few short weeks ago - but watching the opposition's apparent psychosis has made me lighten up a little bit). But what do we do about it? I can't ever vote for a Republican (I don't think, anyway). Obama is the best alternative in a gyre of garbage. This system of ours has been asking to vote for the lesser of two evils for quite some time now. Perhaps for the entire history of the republic. And it's not right. But as unfair of a trade off as it is, what else do we really have. We just have to keep working. Good change always comes slowly in our culture. Even if it's obvious. Slavery and civil rights are just two examples. The list goes on.
posted by IvoShandor at 3:59 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


We just have to keep working.

Yes, and we have to also keep reminding ourselves that we don't have to stand for this. This is not the way it 'has' to be.
posted by From Bklyn at 4:07 AM on October 28, 2010


Standard election cycle:
1. Vote against disappointment and for hope.
2. Hope for a few months.
3. Become disappointed that there is no free and simple remedy for everything.
4. Go to 1.
posted by pracowity at 4:15 AM on October 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


But what do we do about it? --- Revolution? Mass-strikes? (Though, that one doesn't seem to be working out so well in France at the moment.)
posted by crunchland at 4:20 AM on October 28, 2010


I've been trying to watch this video all morning. It starts off just fine, then jams up halfway through and crashes my browser.

Oh wait...
posted by chavenet at 4:23 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought that Jon actually asked tough questions. Compare Obama on TDS to Bush on any of the Fox News programs... a world of difference. I hope that this interview, and the rallies on October 30th galvanize the people who watch the Daily Show to get out and vote.
posted by codacorolla at 4:30 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This system of ours has been asking to vote for the lesser of two evils for quite some time now. Perhaps for the entire history of the republic. And it's not right. But as unfair of a trade off as it is, what else do we really have.

The problem is, voting for the lesser evil still pushes the country towards evil. Just a little slower, maybe. It's not a matter of it being an unfair trade-off; it's a matter of your vote being counted on by a party who doesn't have to give you anything in return for it. Vote for someone else.
posted by mittens at 4:31 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Stewart doesn't ask politicians tough questions, but in fairness, he doesn't give his right-wing guests a hard time, either.

On the other hand, tonight, Stewart gave Obama the bully pulpit the week before elections. Obama spoke almost the entire time. The one time that the host dares to ask his guest a pretty weakly-worded question about healthcare, Obama responds by putting him on the defensive.

TDS doesn't have to be like Jeremy Paxman on BBC, but when it otherwise spends most of its time ridiculing politicians, it's bit disheartening to see its host curl up when it finally has a chance to call them out in person.

There's TDS as a comedy show, TDS as political satire, TDS as a news program, and now TDS as a platform for politicians to deliver their election messages. Stewart gets defensive when his show is identified as a news program or is labeled as culturally influential, but I'm wondering if he could begin to appreciate or understand how much of a missed opportunity he had tonight, or how much responsibility he has as the host of such a program.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:02 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


What did you want him to call Obama out on? Stewart is pretty clearly a moderate.
posted by JPD at 5:23 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I’m so offended by the latest Obama canard, that the financial crisis of 2007-2008 cost less than 1% of GDP, that I barely know where to begin. Not only does this Administration lie on a routine basis, it doesn’t even bother to tell credible lies. .And this one came directly from the top, not via minions. It’s not that this misrepresentation is earth-shaking, but that it epitomizes why the Obama Administration is well on its way to being an abject failure.
On the Jon Stewart Show (starting roughly at the 1:10 mark on this segment) Obama claims the cost of this crisis will be less than 1% of GDP, versus 2.5% for the savings and loan crisis
The reason Obama makes such baldfacedly phony statements is twofold: first, his pattern of seeing PR as the preferred solution to all problems, and second, his resulting slavish devotion to smoke and mirrors over sound policy.
posted by robbyrobs at 5:23 AM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh jesus christ. I saw that Yves Smith post this morning. Her argument requires a much more nuanced way of looking at the puts and takes of what would have happened if the bailout hadn't occured. Also bear in mind she is a banks bear who thinks they are all insolvent. If you think that this is the case, then yes the TARP was a less then optimal approach - but if you don't think that is the case then something like what was done in Texas is a massive seizure of private capital. Also lets not forget IT WAS FUCKING BUSH WHO CREATED TARP

For example this "The reason Obama can claim such phony figures is that many of the costs of saving the financial system are hidden, the biggest being the ongoing transfer from savers to banks of negative real interest rates, which is a covert way to rebuild bank equity." is true but it is not a direct subsidy, but there are also other benefits to very low interest rates and the inflation it will hopefully bring about - i.e. correcting the housing market which is a much much bigger issue then the bank bailout.
posted by JPD at 5:30 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Stewart gets defensive when his show is identified as a news program or is labeled as culturally influential, but I'm wondering if he could begin to appreciate or understand how much of a missed opportunity he had tonight, or how much responsibility he has as the host of such a program.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:02 AM on October 28


I don't think that Stewart gets defensive when his show is identified as a news program per say; I think he gets offensive when actual news programs attempt to hold him to the same standards of accountability that they fail to live up to.

Hardball was more of a softball, crossfire was more of a in-eloquent shouting match, Larry King Live was basically the undead asking canned questions, and the O'Reilly factor has always been an opinion piece hell bent on preventing the other opinion from talking.

The daily show started as a comedy show, has always maintained its satirical quality and lucked into being able to be vaguely politically relevant. Stewart gets defensive when news broadcasters ignore their own accountability - long gone are the days of Walter Cronkite - and that - that is the sad fact that Stewart can't wrap his head around. Because the news media FAILS to actually deliver the news.

O'Reilly has been right when he says that the Daily show is an opinion piece as well - and that it is left focused. O'Reilly is dishonest when he refuses to acknowledge that the entire Fox network is equivalent for the right - that it is the same sort of entertainment for the right. The reality is that the lefties can only sit and muster watching or listening to about an hour or two of political opinion a day before losing interest, whereas for some reason (namely it is masqueraded as news) the right can and does watch it 24/7.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:31 AM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, the cost of the great recession is still mounting from a corporate perspective. Companies expanded beyond their means and many have downsized to regain a level of profitability, but to a large extent people - even MBAs, Financial Analysts and CEOs still can't wrap their head around the fact that business can't jump back to pre-Oct 2007 levels - that the business prior was propped up by really really bad consumer behavior, and that ultimately consumers aren't capable of / allowed to / or able to go back to their same bad habits.

So companies all want to know "when" their business will go back to those obscene levels of revenue so they can go back to not thinking about how they spend their money and where their waste is. The reality is - it isn't any time soon. 2015? 2016? maybe. And the reality is, "inflationarily" we will be at the same level, but companies will need to be smart about how to survive to that point.

Oh, and by that point, there will be an even smaller US blue collar workforce because investing in infrastructure is a good way to eliminate variable costs and risks of workers... and the same goes for white collar paper pushers - make sure your pushing the right piece of paper if you want your job over the next four years.

Sorry to be a downer - I'm wearing my economist hat today.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:43 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


As soon as Obama gets a chance to reply, he shows his discomfort by making a show of searching for the right words, finally settling on "John, I love your show, but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you." And now, it's Obama who is putting Jon on the defensive, who says "the suggestion wasn't that..." And Obama repeats Jon's original words, now far more tenuous after Obama's description of health care, hammering the table with his index

And the whole exchange ended with Obama explaining his point leaning towards Stewart across the desk and Stewart leaning backwards. I don't want to oversell Stewart, but it's clear that he started off knowing what Obama and the Dems are selling this campaign season: "Look at all our accomplishments!" and confronting Obama with criticisms of those claims. But Obama was prepared, as well and able to turn it back on Stewart.

I also had this idea that he would continue to make big speeches like he did during his campaign and try to lead people from the front, define the narrative. Instead he seems to be more of an pragmatic administrator, who gives directions behind the scenes.

No kidding. It is one of those confounding things that he created a whole movement and then basically left them in the lurch while other right-wing groups decided to get out there and redefine the narrative for themselves. I think it's going to be many years before how and why this happened gets analyzed in detail.
posted by deanc at 5:49 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


The reality is that the lefties can only sit and muster watching or listening to about an hour or two of political opinion a day before losing interest, whereas for some reason (namely it is masqueraded as news) the right can and does watch it 24/7.

That's because the two chunks of news/entertainment aren't really equivalent. The right gets 24/7 of "You are correct in everything you believe!"...while the left gets a few hours of "You can't have what you want, and here is why."
posted by mittens at 5:59 AM on October 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


What did you want him to call Obama out on? Stewart is pretty clearly a moderate.
What moderate positions do you think he holds? Or is this a "I like Jon Stewart, I'm a moderate, therefore Jon Stewart is a moderate"

A "Moderate" in todays political climate is someone like Joe Scarboro or Megan McCain. Or Juan Williams or Alan Colmes on the dem side (I guess. I don't watch FOX obviously).
Stewart gets defensive when his show is identified as a news program or is labeled as culturally influential, but I'm wondering if he could begin to appreciate or understand how much of a missed opportunity he had tonight, or how much responsibility he has as the host of such a program.
First of all, Stewart rarely does the 'really go hard' interviews like he did with Jim Cramer or the death panels lady (Betsy McCaughey, not Sarah Palin). He gave Jon Bolton a friendship bracelet.

Second of all, I think he wants the dems to win next week.
No kidding. It is one of those confounding things that he created a whole movement and then basically left them in the lurch while other right-wing groups decided to get out there and redefine the narrative for themselves. I think it's going to be many years before how and why this happened gets analyzed in detail.
I think they were just Naive. Like they thought after the election they could walk on water and get republicans to line up to hop on board and they would want to have a hand in governing. He just wasn't cynical enough about the opposition, and about the power of bad democrats.

That was certainly something that liberal blogs were warning about when he was working so hard on bipartisanship at the outset. They warned that the republicans would just roll him if he gave them a chance, whereas he though they would be interested in joining together and working on legislation together.

Obviously we would be much better off if what Obama thought about the republicans was true. But we would have been a little better off if Obama had believed what actually was true.

Oh well.
posted by delmoi at 6:05 AM on October 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


There's TDS as a comedy show, TDS as political satire, TDS as a news program, and now TDS as a platform for politicians to deliver their election messages. Stewart gets defensive when his show is identified as a news program or is labeled as culturally influential, but I'm wondering if he could begin to appreciate or understand how much of a missed opportunity he had tonight, or how much responsibility he has as the host of such a program.

The Daily Show has been a platform for politicians for years. Perhaps you didn't see Stewart's outstanding interview with John McCain back in 2007, which Bill Moyers later interviewed Stewart about.

Stewart knows about his responsibility, or whatever. But ultimately, he sees his show as a comedy fake news program, and not as serious journalism. That's his line anytime he's asked about The Daily Show. I know that view is negated by the number of high-powered world leaders and movers/shakers he has as guests; their appearances always surprise me. But what is also surprising is how often Stewart actually takes the interviews well out of the comedy realm and really discusses serious issues.

If by "missed opportunity" you think that Stewart should have been asking hard questions of Obama, I think this particular interview was a balancing act. Stewart obviously was trying to draw Obama into some kind of "moment", but equally obviously wasn't going to push too hard to get there. At the same time, it wasn't just a fluff interview, either. Stewart does plenty of those, and this obviously wasn't one of them.
posted by hippybear at 6:09 AM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Jon Stewart asked questions, got deflections in response, and (and this is where he differs from other media people who call themselves "journalists") then rephrased/reframed/reiterated his questions to make sure they were answered. Of course Obama is going to get prickly about it, and of course Stewart is going to lean back when Obama leans forward and points his finger at him. So what? Stewart asked real questions in a knowledgeable, intelligent manner, and insisted they be answered. That's what is supposed to happen in an interview.
posted by headnsouth at 6:10 AM on October 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


I've come to realize in my personal life that sacrificing principles 9 times out of 10 leads to a world of shit

I don't know how I would apply that to the financial meltdown issues -- those were just complicated and shitty tradeoffs no matter what choices you made. But the whole rendition/torture/detention stuff seems to me to be so clearly something that fifty years from now will be talked about in the same ways we now talk about putting Japanese-Americans in camps during WWII. It's shameful to have even begun, and it's triply shameful that Obama is cementing those same policies and protecting the people who implemented them from any investigations, much less risk of prosecution.

If the election was tomorrow, I'd vote for Obama. He's a million times better than any GOP candidate I can think of. But that's because the Repubs are so phenomonally crappy, not because I'm not disappointed and frustrated by Obama.

No kidding. It is one of those confounding things that he created a whole movement and then basically left them in the lurch while other right-wing groups decided to get out there and redefine the narrative for themselves.

I think in the list of missed opportunities of the last couple years, this is going to stand out very strongly. They had an amazing structure and mobilization, and they completely, 100% threw it away.
posted by Forktine at 6:12 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


. Stewart obviously was trying to draw Obama into some kind of "moment", but equally obviously wasn't going to push too hard to get there. At the same time, it wasn't just a fluff interview, either. Stewart does plenty of those, and this obviously wasn't one of them.

Libertarian/conservative columnist Conor Friedersdorf was making the criticism on twitter this morning that Stewart wasn't confronting Obama on Iraq and Afghanistan. And while that's true, and Friedersdorf is correct that Stewart could have nailed him there, Obama isn't running on that platform. With the looming election, Obama and the Democrats are running on a set of talking points related to their legislative accomplishments, and Stewart prepared his interview to confront Obama with his own claims. I think that was fair, as far as it goes. Though if the election were about Afghanistan and Iraq and Obama was running on how great he's been on the war and rolling back the Bush national security state, I'd expect difference questions from Stewart. There were only 30 minutes, after all.

But in that sense, what's been interesting is how Obama has been able to shape the narrative: his administration didn't want to talk about the how they've left a bunch of bad Bush policies in place, so they haven't had to talk about it.
posted by deanc at 6:18 AM on October 28, 2010


This video is not available for viewing in my country. :(
posted by iamkimiam at 6:19 AM on October 28, 2010


This video is not available for viewing in my country. :(

Are you in the UK? I had to subscribe to a VPN service to get my TDS fix when I was there. Nice enough place otherwise. Could do with a Jon Stewartesque figure/ show, with the politics there.

Actually, I could think of a lot of places that could do with a Jon Stewartesque figure.
posted by WalterMitty at 6:37 AM on October 28, 2010


Also lets not forget IT WAS FUCKING BUSH WHO CREATED TARP

Oh, come on. Obama voted for it. My Congressional Progressive Caucus congressperson voted for it. The entire Democratic Party in DC supported this thing. The banks snapped their fingers and both parties abandoned the show of ideological disagreement they put on for the rubes and lined up to service capital. In fact, the only reason we have any of the extremely limited oversight we did in fact get in the final bill is that a bunch of crazy right-wingers in the House went against their leadership on the first September 29th vote. The Democratic Party doesn't get to disclaim responsibility for this thing it wholly supported just because someone else was president.
posted by enn at 6:46 AM on October 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


This video is not available for viewing in my country. :(


The Daily Show is on More4 online in the UK (with a one-day delay), and it looks like they have the Obama interview up now :)
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:52 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


A "Moderate" in todays political climate is someone like Joe Scarboro or Megan McCain. Or Juan Williams or Alan Colmes on the dem side (I guess. I don't watch FOX obviously).

Ah this made me laugh. Thanks.
posted by JPD at 6:58 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


They completely through away the structure they had because they put the wrong person in charge of the DNC, all because Rahm Emanuel doesn't like Howard Dean.
posted by Mick at 7:01 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, come on. Obama voted for it. My Congressional Progressive Caucus congressperson voted for it. The entire Democratic Party in DC supported this thing.

Of course of course, and if Yves Smith were making an argument against any sort of government action to deal with the banking crisis then this is a fair critique - however her issue is with how the TARP was constructed and how it went about its business of bailing out the banks. It was Bush and Paulson who decided the sort of phoney private-public partnership was the way to go rather than nationalization. I happen to think they were right, Smith thinks it would have been better to just to nationalize them. The Dems and Obama would have supported either proposal - indeed the nationalization proposal would probably have been their preferred option as misguided as it would have been.
posted by JPD at 7:02 AM on October 28, 2010


I'd have liked it if Stewart had asked Obama about issues where the "you people want everything instantly" line wouldn't work.

Like torture.

Like extraordinary rendition.

Like post aquittal detention.

Like the fact that Obama is still endorsing and pushing for a multi-tiered system of "justice" in which the outcome for terrorist suspects is always guilty and the only question is which particular "justice" system the show trial will take place in.

Stuff like that.
posted by sotonohito at 7:55 AM on October 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also lets not forget IT WAS FUCKING BUSH WHO CREATED TARP

Tarp was negotiated with Peloci and Reid, the congressional republican leadership, Paulson and Bush as well as McCain and Obama.
posted by delmoi at 7:58 AM on October 28, 2010


sotonohito, The Daily Show is more than "just a fake news show on basic cable," but it is not responsible for doing the work of NPR, the NYT, the Washington Post, and every other "real" group of journalists and news analysts. They're the ones who should be asking the questions you want Obama et al. to answer.
posted by headnsouth at 8:01 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


A "Moderate" in todays political climate is someone like Joe Scarboro or Megan McCain. Or Juan Williams or Alan Colmes on the dem side (I guess. I don't watch FOX obviously).

Don't give a definition with examples and then admit you don't even know if your examples are valid cause you don't really know anything about them. You can do better than that.
posted by dig_duggler at 8:08 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The problem is, voting for the lesser evil still pushes the country towards evil.

The problem is that some are classifying Obama as evil. Considering the choice was him or McCain/Palin, I think we lucked out with nuanced and naiveness vs stupid evil.
posted by nomadicink at 8:10 AM on October 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


It is one of those confounding things that he created a whole movement and then basically left them in the lurch while other right-wing groups decided to get out there and redefine the narrative for themselves.

i think it was simply that he followed through with what he did in the campaign, which was to focus on his own shit and let the other side show their asses. liberals were incredibly frustrated that he wouldn't get as nasty as the other side; but he proved that he didn't need to--that he could just speak in logical terms and would win by the contrast with the increasingly illogical. the 'movement' he created was the affinity for someone whose words matched reality in a way that politics has grown unaccustomed to (though he was still limited in that would be impossible to get elected on a message that we need to hear--that we're about to collapse from living beyond our means).

i think they figured that once he took office, his reasonable approach would shame the opposition into making some sense. but instead, the republicans went batshit crazy, and the nutjobs they once begrudgingly courted took it all over, confident that the volume of owning a news channel and all of radio would make up for the emptiness of what they were saying. it's sad in one sense, because we're better off having a system of rational debate, which is going to be on a long vacation; but it's good in another, because the republicans have put themselves into a crazy corner they're not going to easily slither out of.

we're at the painful point of having to readjust our expectations and change our behavior because where we have gotten to is unsustainable--environmentally, economically, politically. the republicans and tea party are selling a paranoid fantasy that things would be just fine if it weren't for whatever group they happen to be targeting today, and that appears to be comforting for many who can't accept reality and their part in it. the democrats seem to be falling into impatience and unrealistic expectations founded on an ignorance of what is possible with presidential power within a broken system. (the overly simplistic, tea-partyish reaction of my fellow gays to obama has been particularly disappointing in this respect.) the alternative is that we have to accept the pain of what we have to go through to move on and start requiring that words match reality in addressing it. i'm not particularly optimistic for us, because the merging of politics and entertainment has acclimated us to a fantasy world that is so entrenched that it is going to take something shocking and revolutionary to disturb it; we'll likely just shift to a different set of illusions.

i do think that wherever we end up, it is no more or less than what we need and deserve. we've become voluntarily self-delusional, and we play along to get along. we're making of ourselves what we have made of obama--a wasted opportunity.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:14 AM on October 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


Stewart really comes across as smart and aware of the degree to which his questions are being answered, though also balancing an interest in not wanting to get aggressive or unfriendly, so he tries to bring things up again, and notices when something's evaded, but at some point, eh, what can you do. Still, he asks good questions, and knows what he's talking about.

Obama didn't seem particularly strong to me. He repeated himself a lot, and didn't have any real insights for me. He tried to defend himself, but I haven't been particularly disappointed (not having had high expectations, though I did vote for him in the general election) so I was more interested in what the plans are, not a repeat of what's happened.

Also I couldn't help noticing there were a couple times he could have been more rhetorically keen... Like, he said, "it's not change you can believe in, in 18 months..." - where I thought he'd say something more like "it's not change that's totally unbelievable... - change you can believe in has to be change we can actually bring about..."

Or, he said "Yes we can, but... not overnight..." where I was expecting him to say something more like, "yes we can, one day at a time," or "yes we can, if we work together," - something that accentuated the idea that "yes we can" isn't over, and has to involve the continuing support of those who voted for him.

Basically, he didn't seem to be able to carry that inspiring rhetoric into the everyday, and some of the ways he phrased things seemed sort of clumsy and, if these things were affecting to you, might be kind of downers - "yes we can, but..." just implies the wrong mood. I don't know how important these things are, but I still couldn't help noticing the choices he made, as smoother options seemed available to me.
posted by mdn at 8:18 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd have liked it if Obama went on the Colbert Report instead....

Colbert: I'm really glad that you are punishing American traitors without trial by drone attack in other countries! But when are you going to start making American safer by killing the traitors right here, in America?

Barry O: ...............


Colbert doesn't back down and is never flustered by his guests like Steward. He does a much better hard interview in my opinion. For example his recent visit (big blue discussion link) to Congress.
posted by mfoight at 8:26 AM on October 28, 2010


Except for that whole "persona" thing.
posted by crunchland at 8:29 AM on October 28, 2010


Of course, Obama is right that some change isn't going to happen overnight. Of course. But that said, I don't see him seizing some opportunities to advance those changes, either. DADT, in particular, which will be an easy yardstick to judge him by come 2012 -- he either will have achieved it or not -- compared to the haze of measuring health care success.

Yes, change doesn't happen overnight, and we have to give him a chance. First, that chance was the 100 days as compared to FDR, then it was the first year, now it's eighteen months... And things won't improve with the changes these midterms will bring. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that his best chances may have already passed and the momentum lost.

However, on a personal level, I am finding it hard to reconcile the 'change doesn't happen overnight' line with his acceptance of the Nobel. If the change-is-slow model is the one he honestly believes, that's fine, but he could only have said that he was honoured, but hadn't really earned it yet. As it is, it's hard to avoid the feeling that he's happy to accept the praise, but isn't willing to accept that some are quite legitimately disappointed in his performance, brushing it aside with saying that they have to be patient. Some things -- particularly issues of injustice -- we should not have to be patient for.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:30 AM on October 28, 2010


i do think that wherever we end up, it is no more or less than what we need and deserve.

That's what I'm afraid of.
posted by deanc at 8:31 AM on October 28, 2010


Stuff like that.

Agreed, sotonohito. I would also add 'equal rights for all' in that list and was hoping throughout the interview that Stewart would press him on the gay rights issue.
posted by NationalKato at 8:36 AM on October 28, 2010


i think it was simply that he followed through with what he did in the campaign, which was to focus on his own shit and let the other side show their asses. liberals were incredibly frustrated that he wouldn't get as nasty as the other side; but he proved that he didn't need to--that he could just speak in logical terms and would win by the contrast with the increasingly illogical.
He didn't need too because he was always way ahead in the polls. I know at one point he did start running negative ads against Hillary when she was way ahead in the PA polls and there was a risk that she might 'take the momentum' and start winning states huge.

People shouldn't get confused. Obama won big because Hillary screwed up her early primary campaign (giving Obama a huge lead) and because Bush and the republicans were hugely unpopular at the time.

Now we see republicans acting totally unhinged and on track to win big. That's because people don't really care about how sane or crazy a politician sounds. At least not when the economy is this bad.
posted by delmoi at 8:38 AM on October 28, 2010


The irony about bitching about the filibuster, though, when the Dems are close to losing the house is pretty ironic.

How are those related? The filibuster is a Senate-only procedure.
posted by kittyprecious at 8:43 AM on October 28, 2010


Some things -- particularly issues of injustice -- we should not have to be patient for.

I agree with you in principle, but if you look at the history of the United States, justice has always come very, very slowly. We had 100 years of Jim Crow after the Civil War. The Asian Exclusion Acts were in effect until the 1940s. The civil service became re-segregated in the 1910s. There was no compensation and apology given to the internment of Japanese Americans until the early 1990s.

On one hand, I sympathize with the person who wrote somewhere that Obama "thinks we are better than we are"-- his optimism about what kind of cultural change would come to Washington was unwarranted: you can't make bad people into good people on the strength of your personality. On the other hand, I have a feeling that he also has a good enough understanding of American history to understand that American injustices tend to remain in effect long, long after they are recognized as injustices and are only corrected after a long time. I think that Obama has a keen understanding of when a cultural moment has arrived, and my guess is that he senses -- perhaps correctly, perhaps wrongly -- that the moment for national equality for gays isn't here. Yes, it's an injustice, but like most injustices in America, it will likely be allowed to stand for another generation or two before it's corrected: it wouldn't surprise me if Obama understood that we have long term tolerance for that kind of thing and doesn't want to stick his neck out. And one could even explain this by his belief in the goodness of the American people on all sides of the issue: he doesn't view those who support DADT and oppose gay marriage as particularly bad or people who "believe in injustice"-- he thinks they're honest, good Americans who deserve representation just like everyone else.
posted by deanc at 8:45 AM on October 28, 2010


"yes we can, but..." just implies the wrong mood.

Like Jon, I burst out laughing when he said that.
posted by homunculus at 8:49 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Are you in the UK? I had to subscribe to a VPN service to get my TDS fix when I was there. Nice enough place otherwise. Could do with a Jon Stewartesque figure/ show, with the politics there.

Try Radio 4. "At least in World War 2, the Conservatives had the decency not to cheer when Britain was bombed." The News Quiz panelists were pissed this week - and the Now Show is no less savage. And Jeremy Paxman became notorious for asking Michael Howard the same question seventeen times when he was evading. Also from what I've seen of Jon Stewart, he's no more biting than either Have I Got News for You or Mock The Week.

That said, you're looking for Private Eye (British fortnightly newspaper/comedy magazine). Although we generally give a lot less deference to the non-royal members of the Establishment (and ignore anything out of Prince Charles' or Prince Phillip's mouth).
posted by Francis at 8:55 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think that Obama has a keen understanding of when a cultural moment has arrived, and my guess is that he senses -- perhaps correctly, perhaps wrongly -- that the moment for national equality for gays isn't here.

my sense is that he sees that the cultural momentum for gay rights is outpacing policy, and that the major force driving that momentum is generational. growing up, i didn't expect that gay marriage or gays in the military would be addressed in my lifetime; now for these ideas it is not a matter of if, but of when.

as a man who is married to a man, and as a man who was discharged from the navy for being gay, i don't think obama has failed on gay rights. i think that within the constellation of issues he has to deal with, and within the toxic environment he must address them, he's doing what he can. the fact is that gay acceptance and rights are moving along anyway, and public perception about them is changing, absent policy changes. in fact, i would argue that the republican roadblocks to gay rights have actually helped them along; who was talking about gay marriage before republicans started putting the issue on ballots? my recollection is that gays were pretty happy to see domestic partnerships and some of those benefits, until the right forced the issue.

a while back, bill maher commented that as commander-in-chief, obama could simply order that gays be in the military, and the military would have to accept it, as if the armed services were a computer program and not a culture. but people forget the years it has taken (and still ongoing) to try to overcome racial and gender bias within the military--decades of policy revisions and educational efforts. i wouldn't want to be a gay guy joining under an executive order that can be overturned down the line, or a court ruling that could be reversed. more importantly, i wouldn't want to be a gay guy joining without there being a comprehensive policy of how gays are treated within the military once they are allowed in--the kind of policy that is not provided by such measures. the recent court ruling requiring the military to admit gays did not, to my knowledge, address whether gays could be diverted to only certain positions or sites within the military, whether they could be denied promotion or security clearance, whether those who persecute or harass them need to be punished, whether a straight guy could get away with a 'he-was-looking-at-me-gay' defense for assaulting someone, or any number of ways that gays could face discrimination. the history of racial discrimination makes it clear that simply saying 'no discrimination allowed' doesn't fix it; there are all the little battles of what is and what isn't discrimination, what is or isn't reasonable to resolve it, what needs to be done to prevent it. do we just let gays in and let them suffer through the years of trial and error, the time it takes for patterns to emerge, for something to be considered actionable--the time it takes for some horrible shit to happen to openly gay people? yes, the military should have been working on it all along (even as part of implementing dadt, with the expectation that the ban would be overturned altogether at some point), but where things are at this point, i don't think it's as simple as opening up the closet and telling everybody to play nice.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 9:34 AM on October 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


And one could even explain this by his belief in the goodness of the American people on all sides of the issue: he doesn't view those who support DADT and oppose gay marriage as particularly bad or people who "believe in injustice"-- he thinks they're honest, good Americans who deserve representation just like everyone else.

All agreed. That said, the man ran on a campaign of 'change', however nebulous and undefined that was.

Personally, I look back to Truman's executive order for desegregation of the military, or Bobby Kennedy's sending in U.S. Marshalls to the University of Mississippi. There were injustices which needed to be addressed, and surely the climate wasn't ripe for those changes, either. And when I see parallels with DADT -- failures to seize upon the court decisions, or commissioning further studies and reviews -- seemingly all intended to buy time, I think the accusation of timidity is entirely apt. Did Truman or RFK wait for the nation, or did they lead? Has Obama faced injustice and damn the political consequences, as Johnson?

Yes, it's politically difficult. Yes, the timing isn't right. But some leaders have gone ahead regardless, and I thought Obama was one of those. He still could be. But today, yes -- I see timidity.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:49 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes, it's politically difficult. Yes, the timing isn't right. But some leaders have gone ahead regardless, and I thought Obama was one of those. He still could be. But today, yes -- I see timidity.

Just in case my feelings didn't come through in what I wrote, let me say that I agree with you, here, but I'm just trying to get into Obama's head to tease out his possible reasoning.
posted by deanc at 10:26 AM on October 28, 2010


I love the President. I think he's done a better job than anyone ever could have done, and I think people who criticize him are smug fools who aren't putting themselves in his shoes. They're like the out of shape people who criticize competitive marathoners from the sidelines.


Personally, I look back to Truman's executive order for desegregation of the military, or Bobby Kennedy's sending in U.S. Marshalls to the University of Mississippi. There were injustices which needed to be addressed, and surely the climate wasn't ripe for those changes, either. And when I see parallels with DADT -- failures to seize upon the court decisions, or commissioning further studies and reviews -- seemingly all intended to buy time, I think the accusation of timidity is entirely apt. Did Truman or RFK wait for the nation, or did they lead? Has Obama faced injustice and damn the political consequences, as Johnson?


Have you listened to the audio associated with these events? I highly suggest you do. It's really eye-opening, and they might not be amazing heros in your mind anymore when you listen to what they actually said while this was going on. A lot of it was an ego-driven political power play, not their heart of hearts telling them to stand up for what was right and condemn injustice.
posted by anniecat at 10:30 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Barack Obama also has roundtable with left wing bloggers. Clarifies a few points on DADT and others.

Also, I get why it's difficult to get things past the filibuster. But I don't get why Dems don't just force Republicans to vote against popular items. They want to filibuster health care for veterans? Make them do it, for real, on television! They want to vote against unemployment extensions? Hold them accountable! Clarify your positions with votes. I really have no idea why they didn't hold a vote on the tax cuts for the rich. That seemed like a no-brainer.

It seems so obvious, but the Democrats just won't do it except in a few instances (the Franken corporate rape liability bill, the 9/11 worker health bill). Obama's continued insistence on finding common ground with Republicans doesn't help.
posted by fungible at 10:31 AM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've read references on the web that some people are annoyed that Stewart referred to the President as "Dude."
posted by crunchland at 10:32 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here:

When Bobby Kennedy could not get Governor Barnett to comply with the order of the Supreme Court, President Kennedy stepped in. On September 29 and 30, 1962, JFK had a series of conversations with Governor Barnett. He hoped to manage the crisis by telephone. Their first call took place at 2 p.m. on Friday, September 29.

President Kennedy: This, uh, listen, I didn't, uh, put him in the university, but on the other hand, under the Constitution, I have to carry out the orders of the, carry that order out and I don't, I get, uh, I don't want to do it in any way that causes, uh, difficulty to you or to anyone else. But I've got to do it. Now, I'd like to get your help in doing that...Alright. Well, now let me, let me say this, uh--

Governor Barnett: You know what I am up against, Mr. President. I took an oath, you know, to abide by the laws of this state . . .

JFK: That's right.

RB: --and our constitution here and the Constitution of the United States. I'm, I'm on the spot here, you know.

JFK: Right. Well, of course, the problem is, Governor, that, uh, I got my responsibility, just like you have yours--

RB: Well, that's true. I--

JFK: --and my responsibility, of course, is to the ...

RB: --I realize that, and I appreciate that so much.

JFK: Well, now here's the thing, uh, Governor, I will, uh, the attorney general can talk to, uh, Mr. Watkins tomorrow. What I want, would like to do is to try to work this out in an amicable way. We don't want a lot of people down there getting hurt . . .


Yeah, the Kennedy bros. took a real hard line against the Governor. Why, I bet Barnett didn't even get a Christmas card and a fruitcake from Jackie.
posted by anniecat at 10:39 AM on October 28, 2010


Barack Obama also has roundtable with left wing bloggers.

Here's my favorite part:
Q On that same issue, because a lot of progressives -- and you said you’re not the king -- well, a lot of progressives feel that senators, especially in the minority they think -- we call them the House of Lords.

And are you in favor of any form of filibuster reform? Because there are several bills being talked about. And there is a unique time that -- by the way, we’re also very happy that Vice President Biden went down to do a fundraiser for Alan Grayson. He’s the type of Democrat that speaks out and fights. And that’s what the progressive community really likes.

But he also might have the opportunity in January to be -- to help out. And can we get -- or are you for any of the bills that are out there to support -- to change this rule that is paralyzing the administration?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ve got to be careful about not looking like I’m big-footing Congress. We’ve got separate branches of government. The House and the Senate have their own rules. And they are very protective of those prerogatives.

I will say that as just an observer of our political process that if we do not fix how the filibuster is used in the Senate, then it is going to be very difficult for us over the long term to compete in a very fast moving global environment.

What keeps me up at night is China, Germany, India, Brazil -- they’re moving. They make decisions, we’re going to pursue clean energy, and the next thing you know they’ve cornered half the clean energy market; we’re going to develop high-speed rail in the span of five years -- suddenly they’ve got high-speed rail lines going; we’re going to promote exports, here’s what we’re going to do -- boom, they get going.

And if we can’t sort of execute on key issues that will determine our competitiveness over the long term, we’re going to fall behind -- we are going to fall behind.

And the filibuster is not part of the Constitution. The filibuster, if you look at the history of it, may have arisen purely by accident because somebody didn’t properly apply Robert’s Rules of Procedure and forgot to get a provision in there about what was required to close debate. And folks figured out very early, this could be a powerful tool. It was used as a limited tool throughout its history. Sadly, the primary way it was used was to prevent African Americans from achieving civil rights.

But setting aside that sordid aspect of its history, it was used in a very limited fashion. The big debates, the big changes that we had historically around everything from establishing public schools to the moon launch to Social Security, they weren’t subject to the filibuster. And I’m sympathetic to why the minority wants to keep it. And in fairness, Democrats, when we were in the minority, used it on occasion to blunt actions that we didn’t think were appropriate by the Bush administration.
This fascinates me. He seems to be trying to keep the division of power in the American government, at least in this situation, despite getting a lot of flak about that.
posted by nomadicink at 10:52 AM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also noteworthy, TARP II funding (approved and set aside by the previous congress and administration) was redirected under Obama toward (arguably unsuccessful) mortgage relief programs for homeowners. For the most part, though Obama supported the financial rescue in general, it isn't clear to me he would have approved of the particulars of how the previous administration implemented the plan.

His recent decision to promote Elizabeth Warren, a prominent critic of the original TARP program, to be the interim head of the newly established financial services consumer protection agency and his dismissal of Larry Summers and other economic and budgeting staff personnel all lead me to think the president would have preferred to handle that problem differently, at least in the details. But the details were spelled out by the legislature and the administration before he ever took office.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:07 AM on October 28, 2010


The problem is, voting for the lesser evil still pushes the country towards evil. Just a little slower, maybe. It's not a matter of it being an unfair trade-off; it's a matter of your vote being counted on by a party who doesn't have to give you anything in return for it. Vote for someone else.

In practice it actually works in the long run. Because each of the lesser candidates is actually a mixture of good-in-some-ways, bad-in-others ideas. The good things tend to stick around because repealing an objective good that everyone loves is very damaging politically, while the bad things stick around until they get bad enough that another administration/Congress fixes them.

Meanwhile, in our electoral setup, "voting for someone else" means either voting for the greater evil or, realistically if you vote third party, throwing half a vote towards that same greater evil.

Blazecock Pileon: Stewart doesn't ask politicians tough questions, but in fairness, he doesn't give his right-wing guests a hard time, either.

I have to say that's just not true; in fact, those exchanges usually end up so rancorous that they go long and significant portions have to be posted online.

On the other hand, tonight, Stewart gave Obama the bully pulpit the week before elections. Obama spoke almost the entire time. The one time that the host dares to ask his guest a pretty weakly-worded question about healthcare, Obama responds by putting him on the defensive.

Well, he is the President, and a pretty good debator. And Obama uses the bully pulpit maybe more than any president since Franklyn Roosevelt, he has a weekly internet address after all, so he doesn't actually need Stewart for that. I thought it was one of the most insightful interviews available in our diseased media system, in that each side was actually listening to what the other one was saying instead of shouting a list of talking points through the other person, which is what most of the other interviews in our system have become. Stewart at attacking that; when someone actually responds to what he's saying, he is polite.

I don't think Obama dodged health care; he basically admitted it wasn't as good as he wanted. He tried to put a good face on it, and there is reason to believe it'll get better in the future assuming they don' t just repeal the thing.

Really, short of having Obama here on Metafilter to interrogate personally, I don't know what you could hope for. A mere candidate made a weird noise a couple of cycles ago and it permanently destroyed his hopes for office. Everyone is so focused on not making something that could, through some filter or lens, be regarded as a fatal mistake that everything is blandified.

Forktine: But that's because the Repubs are so phenomonally crappy, not because I'm not disappointed and frustrated by Obama.

I'd agree with you if you changed "phenomenally crappy" to "astoundingly evil."

sonotohito: I'd have liked it if Stewart had asked Obama about issues where the "you people want everything instantly" line wouldn't work. [/n] Like torture. [/n] Like extraordinary rendition. [/n] Like post aquittal detention.

Now this Obama needs to be called to account for. Unfortunately, infuriatingly, that stuff is way off the media radar now.

homunculus: >>"yes we can, but..." just implies the wrong mood.
Like Jon, I burst out laughing when he said that.


It was funny, but it's probably going to be pulled out of content, put into a WAV, and made into some hateful meme or something, like the Dean Scream. (Yeah, I have a bit of a bug about the scream.)
posted by JHarris at 11:50 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also....

In the long run, the real direction of the country is decided, not in back rooms or caucus meetings, but in places like this, like Metafilter, smart people meeting and talking about things reasonably, (mostly) respectfully. I like Obama because he seems to want to talk that way. A bit of reasonableness goes a long way.

And I want to say how pleasantly surprised I am at how well this thread has turned out so far. +1 mods!
posted by JHarris at 11:55 AM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


He seems to be trying to keep the division of power in the American government, at least in this situation, despite getting a lot of flak about that.

Obamais very process oriented. It's not unique to him; it's part of the technocratic good government liberal tradition: if we just follow the process and have all voices heard, then the good, liberal solutions that benefit everyone will come out on top, and everyone will agree to them. He really believes in it and thinks it's part of the "change" he was elected to implement, in contrast to Bush running roughshod over the legislature and the courts.

I think Obama's reasoning is flawed. Carrots and sticks need to be involved. In certain circumstances, branches of government need to know that things can proceed with you or without you if certain branches refuse to cooperate (FDR failed to pack the courts, but the Court was put on notice that it could happen if they didn't back down). The filibuster is Obama's version of the supreme court problem faced by FDR.

I think Obama reads the American people wrong. They have a respect for someone who Gets Things Done™, but Obama has a penchant for pontificating about the importance of process.
posted by deanc at 12:15 PM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was impressed all over again by President Obama. He knows TDS and what Stewart has been saying about him, and he knows TDS audience. So he wasn't there to fire people up or be inspirational -- he delivered a thoughtful, nuanced, and unapologetic defense of what he has done over the past 20 months -- and frankly, it is a staggering amount -- and a clear forecast of what he wants to do going forward. He was also funny and quick on his feet.

My major disappointment with this administration is civil rights and restoration of the Constitution, but I will add that I understand Obama's view that 1) these issues are so politically thorny and dangerous they could derail everything else in his agenda; 2) it is important to be respectful of national security concerns and 3) he has to defer to Holder or he undercuts his own choice of AG. I'd prefer a much different tack, not to mention a different AG, but I can't say I don't believe Obama has put thought into his policy direction.

This country is in a deep, deep hole on a lot of levels. George Bush broke our economy over his knee and it is really only due to this administration that we aren't currently in a depression or still mired in deep recession. We've been giving away our constitutional liberties for an illusory security since Clinton was in office (I give you FISA, for example) and Bush accelerated that process to an incredible degree. Our loss of equal educational and economic opportunity and our widening income inequality are huge structural problems. And then there are all the critical issues at the top of Obama's agenda: health care and the social safety net, education, infrastructure, a sound environmental policy, and immigration, just to name a few.

We lucked out getting a really brilliant, educated President with personal strength, a sense of humility, an ability to listen, think and reason, integrity, and a feel for the American people in all our diversity. It is too bad his party doesn't seem to be able to get on the same page with him in terms of messaging or strong support. It is disastrous that our news media is a joke, which is one reason TDS is consistently so funny in skewering them, and that right wing extremists are getting a free pass everywhere on behavior which is uncomfortably reminiscent of the 1930s National Socialist party.

As I'm a believer, I thank God daily for Obama and Stewart. I feel we are fortunate to have them both. I'm definitely not ready to be disappointed with Obama, who I think is a President for the ages.
posted by bearwife at 12:22 PM on October 28, 2010 [6 favorites]




Liked the interview overall, was glad they shelved the usual format and just dedicated the full TV time to the interview (versus putting the overflow online). Was disappointed to learn(? could just be hearsay) that Stewart had to sign a "won't talk about things x,y,z" list, which presumably included DADT, wikileaks, and the like.
posted by curious nu at 12:33 PM on October 28, 2010




deanc wrote I think Obama's reasoning is flawed. Carrots and sticks need to be involved.

Oh, he's quite willing to use sticks, but only against liberals who threaten to end the wars of aggression he has embraced. Against Republicans, or conservative Democrats he wouldn't dream of using a stick.

Obama has a penchant for pontificating about the importance of process.

Only on some topics. When it comes to ending the ongoing anti-Constitutional detention of people he doesn't care about process anymore than Bush did. He wants those people locked away, forever, and he doesn't want to give them trials or even say why they're locked away, and he didn't worry one moment about process there.

He wanted to whitewash the torture regime of Bush, and process went right out the window instead we're "looking forward, not backward" and the Bush torturers walk free.

But, of course that only applies to the torturers. The whistleblowers get process slamming down on them as hard as Obama can slam it.

I'd buy the "he's just a technocratic, process oriented, policy wonk" argument if his process orientation went across the board. But it doesn't. He applies it unevenly.
posted by sotonohito at 1:03 PM on October 28, 2010


A view of the Obama/Stewart interview from across the pond.

Ugh. That's the worst. They're kinda on the same side, you know? Stewart's not trying to "nail" Obama - he's trying to ask pointed questions to get him to explain and think about his strategies. Yet the media gets to turn it into "STEWART CURBSTOMPS OBAMA" bullshit. Fucking idiots.
posted by fungible at 1:16 PM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, technically, it would be "OBAMA CURBSTOMPS STEWART". At least, according to that one article's take on it.
posted by hippybear at 1:18 PM on October 28, 2010


He seems to be trying to keep the division of power in the American government, at least in this situation, despite getting a lot of flak about that.

This is one of the things I'm most grateful for about President Obama. We had eight years of President Bush's imperial presidency, flouting Congress with his record-level signing statements. The division of power is how it's supposed to work.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:21 PM on October 28, 2010


But the whole rendition/torture/detention stuff seems to me to be so clearly something that fifty years from now will be talked about in the same ways we now talk about putting Japanese-Americans in camps during WWII.

It is also something that hasn't had to go through congress, it has been up to executive decision. I'm disappointed that Stewart and the aforementioned liberal bloggers didn't call the President on the carpet for these decisions. He railed against Bush during the campaign for compromising on torture and habeas corpus, then now he is elected, little has changed with these policies, and in the case of prisoners at Bagram, the administration advanced these policies.
posted by pashdown at 1:22 PM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Daily Show is more than "just a fake news show on basic cable," but it is not responsible for doing the work of NPR, the NYT, the Washington Post, and every other "real" group of journalists and news analysts. They're the ones who should be asking the questions you want Obama et al. to answer.

For better or worse, TDS is in a unique position to be a better news outlet than all of those, because it deals with the truth of things in an adult, if satirical way. The show has the cultural influence to get politicians to come in, but its creators don't have the courage to acknowledge what it is and follow through on its end of the bargain. Whether it is fair or not, the show neglects the responsibility that it has taken on by reporting news in a factual way. Like the Obama presidency, in some respects, it is a failure of opportunity.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:37 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Either that, or the creators of TDS actually do know what it is, and don't want to push it into a mold that you feel it should fit into.
posted by hippybear at 2:43 PM on October 28, 2010


Just finished watching, after having read all this thread. BHO owned it. I think of his extemporaneous speaking as a little dicey, he's a bit professorial and that can be a little tough to hang with. But the man, like his Democratic predecessor was during the 90s, is the best argument for keeping the Dems in control - and for the life of me I don't understand why he hasn't been more visible throughout this election season. The bit about how HCR created a framework from which to grow, much like Civil Rights in the '60s, was a long overdue explanation.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 2:44 PM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


A lot of it was an ego-driven political power play, not their heart of hearts telling them to stand up for what was right and condemn injustice.

On that I disagree. It would have been much easier, and far more politically expedient for them not to have forced the issue, but rather take a passive approach, and let the courts enforce their own orders with a stream of appeals and injunctions and appeals, and James Meredith enforcing his own civil remedies in the courts, with everything being resolved about twelve, fifteen years later.

There were other options available to them, and they certainly didn't pick an easy one, nor one with an immediate political benefit. I think they stood up, when it would have been very easy not to.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:02 PM on October 28, 2010


Was disappointed to learn(? could just be hearsay) that Stewart had to sign a "won't talk about things x,y,z" list, which presumably included DADT, wikileaks, and the like.

Is there a citation? If true then how depressing, and TDS becomes another source of propaganda not all that different in effect from Fox news.
posted by Shit Parade at 3:13 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm a little disappointed Obama didn't call out abuse of the filibuster in more concrete terms. Something like this:

"One of the big disappointments recently has been the failure of government to repeal the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, something a large majority of Americans want to see happen. Now, just this summer we drew up legislation to end this discriminatory policy once and for all -- it passed the House, and got more than fifty votes in the Senate. A majority vote, and yet it failed, because more than forty Republicans voted against it. So here we have a clear mandate for change with majority support in both houses of Congress that was stymied by stubborn obstructionism. And we've seen this same spirit of inflexible opposition blocking or weakening plenty of other bills in the last eighteen months, more than any other Congress in history."

It would have been a good opportunity to illustrate to non-policy wonks exactly how the filibuster holds up good policy that would normally pass Congress easily.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:16 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


(Also, when he was talking about how Medicare and civil rights legislation rose from humble beginnings, it would have been pretty clever to point out how they were attacked as radical communism/socialism/tyranny/etc. at the time, too.)
posted by Rhaomi at 3:18 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Personally, I was really psyched that Obama gave a shout-out to three bad-ass freshmen members of Congress who, while none of them are perfect, have all made some awesomely brave votes despite coming from conservative districts and getting slammed by negative ads from corporate lobbyists. If you were considering volunteering for anybody over the next few days, whether through an pre-election weekend road trip or phone calls from home, John Boccieri, Betsy Markey, and Tom Perriello are all pretty darn deserving of your help, in my opinion.
posted by naoko at 3:46 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jon Stewart had to walk a tightrope like he's never seen in his life here. This wasn't going to be Colbert mocking Bush for five minutes while Bush had to sit there and take it. This was a half-hour with a sitting president, basically on the eve of the mid-terms, where Stewart knew he had to both keep things at least a little funny, and yet not let Obama dodge actual issues. This was the biggest "get" in the history of a show now featuring nothing but prestigious guests (Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, etc.) and he couldn't waste the opportunity, but Stewart was also a little star-struck, to be sure. He'd spoken with Obama on the campaign, of course, but this was different.

And I think Stewart is currently trying to figure out his place in American culture and politics, very quickly.

The rally was the brainchild of Colbert fans, remember. It was fans of the Report who raised the money for Colbert's charity in order to get him to hold a rally. This was supposed to be Colbert's thing this weekend, primarily. But then people started committing to Stewart's rally 10-1 over Colbert's march, and it became clear that while Colbert has the satirical cult of personality, Stewart's politics actually match where the left-to-moderate America finds itself.

And this is probably not exactly where Stewart expected to find himself. He's been claiming to be on the sidelines for years, but now there's a distinct "us" for whom Stewart is the most vocal voice. And there he is sitting with the man who was elected to supposedly fill that role.

I still like President Obama a lot, and I will enthusiastically vote for him again in two years provided nothing insane happens. But there's a lot he hasn't done, and I think Stewart did a great job of respecting the man and the office while refusing to let the interview be a puff-piece either, especially considering that this was one of the few times when Stewart was facing someone as smart as he himself is.

I don't know if Stewart will ever truly be comfortable in his role as the voice of a wide swath of the country. I'm also not sure that's a bad thing, though.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:41 PM on October 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


US GDP is 14.5 trillion.

Discussing "this financial crisis" (part 3, 1:15), he suggested that his adminsitration had been able to stabelize the system stabilize the stockmarket, and stabilize the economy at a cost to the tax payers of 1% of GDP.

Much clapping.

Anyone here able to back these figures? Me, I don't see it at all.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:00 PM on October 28, 2010


It would have been a good opportunity to illustrate to non-policy wonks exactly how the filibuster holds up good policy that would normally pass Congress easily.

No, it would have been a good opportunity for him to look like a total hypocrite, because the obvious answer would be "but then why is your administration fighting for DADT in court?"
posted by Forktine at 6:05 PM on October 28, 2010


IndigoJones: Politifact rates it half-true for being somewhat speculative.
posted by JHarris at 6:20 PM on October 28, 2010


Yeah, IndigoJones, it looks like he's counting outstanding debts as assets, which makes sense, I guess, but is also kind of how the crisis started in the first place.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:32 PM on October 28, 2010


[changed post link to actual Daily Show's show link at poster's request, carry on]
posted by jessamyn at 7:58 PM on October 28, 2010


Finally watched it, and the only thing I have to say is: for the love of god, Obama, find some other word to use instead of 'folks' sometimes.
posted by lullaby at 11:48 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know if Stewart will ever truly be comfortable in his role as the voice of a wide swath of the country. I'm also not sure that's a bad thing, though.

It's really interesting to watch him develop as a voice over the past few election cycles. He went from the guy who took down crossfire while dismissing his own show ("I come on after a show with puppets that make crank phone calls!"), to the guy who took down Jim Cramer by doing his usual well-placed video schtick ("Roll 2:12!"), to the guy who took down Betsy McCaughey by simply being the only one to call her on her own bullshit ("It's in here Jon, read the bill!" - "Well find it then, I'm waiting!").

Whether it's due to the relative vacuum of smart interviewers who are willing to engage in conversation with anybody, or it's due to some other confluence of events, The Daily Show's role in our society has really changed, even if its format has stayed the same.
posted by Think_Long at 11:03 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


for the love of god, Obama, find some other word to use instead of 'folks' sometimes. --- Make no mistake.
posted by crunchland at 12:15 PM on October 29, 2010


. . . now, with that said -
posted by Think_Long at 12:46 PM on October 29, 2010


So, for those who don't know by now, the Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear will be televised LIVE on Comedy Central from 12pm-3pm Eastern Time, commercial-free.

There are also satellite rallies being staged at many cities around the country. There's one happening here in Spokane with Paula Poundstone hosting. I've seen reports of them also being held in Seattle, Los Angeles, and St. Louis. Google "Rally To Restore Sanity [city near you]" to see if there's one being held near you.
posted by hippybear at 3:49 PM on October 29, 2010


Apparently there are 16 pages of listings of satellite rallies listed at The Daily Show forums.
posted by hippybear at 3:53 PM on October 29, 2010


for the love of god, Obama, find some other word to use instead of 'folks' sometimes.

And pick up those damn g's while you're at it. You're beginning to sound like Sarah Palin.

(Thanks, JHarris and Navalgazer. Even with the apologia, I'd say less than half true.)
posted by IndigoJones at 3:59 PM on October 29, 2010


Anyone else watching the livestream?

I can't quite get a sense of how many are there, it doesn't look like they've got a good aerial camera set up.
posted by Think_Long at 9:27 AM on October 30, 2010


Well at least one mefi is participating, asavage just showed up on stage.
posted by Think_Long at 9:40 AM on October 30, 2010




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