President Obama took a pointed but respectful ribbing from comedian Jon Stewart Wednesday night when he became the first sitting president to appear on Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." Obama was looking to drum up the youth vote for Democrats in next week's midterm elections, but ended up defending his record as Stewart grilled him on his "timid" legislative agenda. Who came out on top in this highly anticipated interview? (Watch part one of the interview below)
Obama got the better of Stewart: President Obama got just what he wanted on "The Daily Show," says Alessandra Stanley in The New York Times. He laughed at Stewart's jokes, delivered a few of his own and managed to stay "on pre-election message." He even plugged "a few imperiled House Democrats" and commandeered the end of the show to urge Stewart's young viewers to vote.
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Stewart respectfully took Obama down a notch: Jon Stewart might not have gotten as many laughs as he's used to, says Mark A. Perigard at the Boston Herald, but "the half-hour confirmed Stewart’s presence as one of the most intelligent pundits on cable." He "grilled Obama about his executive style, his party's campaign approach, and the health care bill." This smackdown may have harmed Obama more than it helped him.
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Obama was the same old cool customer: Anybody who tuned in to see presidential "flop sweat" surely "came away disappointed," says David Hinckley at the New York Daily News. Obama "handled himself smoothly," much as he always does in TV interviews. He made it appear "things have progressed nicely the last two years." Even Stewart's "tougher" questions didn't faze him. "No flop. No sweat."
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Stewart showed himself as the liberal he is: So much for Stewart's "balanced and centrist take on American life," says David Zurawik at the Baltimore Sun. Instead of grilling Obama on his big government policies, Stewart prodded him about "all the White House had not done," copying the tired whine of the "professional left." The result was simply a 15-minute "free ride" for Obama to list his achievements.
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This display of liberal back-slapping was sickening: Jon Stewart is nothing but a "jester" in King Barack's court, says George Neumayr at The American Spectator. And the fact that the "enfeebled" Obama has been reduced to seeking help from this "smug" but adoring clown only serves as a reminder of how desperate Obama and the Democrats are.
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At least there were some laughs: "Perhaps the funniest moment," says JJ Sutherland at NPR, came when Obama said his economic adviser Larry Summers had done a "heckuva job" — echoing what former president George W. Bush said about the head of FEMA during Hurricane Katrina. Stewart blurted, "You don't want to use that phrase, dude." So, at the very least, this will go down as "the first time a sitting president has been called 'dude' during an interview."
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