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For Obama, election politics no laughing matter
Question of the Day
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama apparently thinks politics is no laughing matter, even when he’s staring down a comedian.
Obama barely cracked any jokes during an appearance Wednesday on “The Daily Show” despite host Jon Stewart’s attempts to draw out the president’s humorous side with a few of his own snarky wisecracks.
Less than a week before the critical Nov. 2 congressional elections, Obama said he hopes Democratic lawmakers who made tough votes will be rewarded with another term in office. He promised more accomplishments in the two years left on his own term in the Oval Office and urged people to vote _ early if they can.
Stewart asked how the political environment got to the point that Democrats “seem to be running on ‘Please, baby, one more chance’” just two years after Obama ran a successful presidential campaign built around “very high rhetoric, hope and change.”
“Are you disappointed in how it’s gone?” asked the Comedy Central satirist.
Obama seemed to suggest that he wasn’t disappointed. He said his advisers had told him during the euphoria of his 2008 election to “enjoy this now because two years from now folks are going to be frustrated. That is, in fact, what’s happening.”
He listed as reasons a 9.6 percent unemployment rate, sinking housing values and an economy that is growing but not fast enough. But Obama said his administration has also stabilized the economy, noting it has grown for nine months in a row. He also signed major health care and financial legislation. Obama suggested that his administration did so much that “we have done things that some folks don’t even know about.”
The comment seemed to catch Stewart by surprise.
“What have you done that we don’t know about?” he asked. “Are you planning a surprise party for us, filled with jobs and health care?”
Obama cited legislation extending health care to more children and broadening a national service program as examples.
“Over and over again, we have moved forward an agenda that is making a difference in people’s lives each and every day,” Obama replied. “Is it enough? No. And so I expect, and I think most Democrats out there expect, that people want to see more progress.”
The interview, which allowed Obama to take his campaign message to the type of audience that gets political news from programs like Stewart’s, seemed more wonkish than slapstick.
Stewart pressed Obama on the changed political climate in the country and questioned him about the new health care law. The president defended his record as well as Democrats, who are expected to suffer a drubbing at the polls Tuesday. Obama was the guest for the entire show. Stewart is taping the show in Washington this week ahead of a rally he’s holding Saturday on the National Mall.
At one point, though, when Obama asked to say something about members of Congress, Stewart prompted laughter by asking, “Are you going to curse?”
Stewart poked at Obama for saying during the presidential campaign that “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
By Michael P. Orsi
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