If his guest spot on Monday night’s episode is any indication, President Obama could have a new gig as host of “The Colbert Report.”
Obama’s appearance on the satirical news show got off to an unexpected start. “You’ve been taking a lot of shots at my job, I’ve decided to take a shot at yours,” the president riffed before taking over for Colbert on the show’s recurring segment, “The Word.” But Obama felt the segment needed a presidential face-lift, so he dubbed it “The Decree.”
“That guy is so arrogant, I’ll bet he talks about himself in the third person,” Obama said of himself while impersonating Colbert. During the segment – which taped before a live audience at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. – Obama got big cheers while discussing the Affordable Care Act’s provision allowing young people to stay on their parents’ health care plan until age 26.
After returning from a commercial break, Colbert jokingly introduced Obama as the new, permanent host of the show.
During the interview portion, the president dished on everything from Obamacare to increasing the minimum wage. Colbert brought up the recent bright-looking jobs report, asking facetiously, “Why didn’t you fix the economy before the midterms?” Speaking of the midterms, Colbert asked Obama why young voters – many of whom were in the audience – didn’t turn out for Democratic candidates on Election Day.
“They felt discouraged by the things going on in Washington,” Obama said.
Colbert addressed the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, which drew boos from the audience. The president largely stuck to his talking points on the pipeline, which would carry tar sand oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, after which the oil would be sold on the international market. Obama said the decision-making process would have to weigh whether the pipeline project would contribute to global warming, to which the crowd responded with applause.
Colbert also asked Obama whether he gets excited when he hears the word “president” before his name. Obama answered with a firm “no.”
“I love the job,” Obama said. “It’s an incredible privilege, but when you’re in it, you’re not thinking about it in terms of titles. You’re thinking, how do you deliver for the American people?” The president added that the first family keeps him humble by giving him a hard time for his “big ears,” among other things.
Monday’s presidential television tour didn’t begin with Colbert. Obama also appeared on BET’s “106 & Park” earlier Monday afternoon.
The interview took a much more somber tone as the president grappled with recent unrest over grand jury decisions in the killings of unarmed black men. When asked by the show’s host Jeff Johnson if he should be more aggressive in cases like Ferguson and New York, Obama responded, “I’m being pretty explicit about my concern.” He clarified, “This is a systemic problem … black folks aren’t making this up.” Obama emphasized the importance of people feeling like they’re treated fairly by police, saying “consequences when they are not treated fairly can be deadly.”
The interview grew increasingly personal with Obama laying out his vision for his daughters and eventual grandchildren. “I want my children to be seen as the individuals they are and by the content of their character.”