Obama tells Stephen Colbert he messed up by not giving Dolly Parton the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Stephen Colbert interviews Barack Obama
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/The Late Show)

Monday's Late Show was all Stephen Colbert's interview last week with former President Barack Obama, and Obama took his share of needling.

Many Americans missed Obama during President Trump's tenure, Colbert included, he said. "Did you miss you? Did you ever look at something going on in the news and go, 'You know what this situation needs? A little Barack Obama.'" Obama laughed and said he'd only want another turn as president if he could call the shots from his basement. "I found the work fascinating," he said. "But I do not miss having to wear a tie every day." Colbert also poked at Obama's cadence, telling him that if you listen to his audiobook recording at double speed, "you can't tell that it's actually going faster," because it's "normal human talking speed." In another interview, Obama swatted back, telling Colbert, "If that was an imitation of me, that was terrible."

Colbert threw in some questions he believed Obama had never been asked, including: "How does Dolly Parton not have a Presidential Medal of Freedom?" "That's a mistake — I'm shocked," Obama replied. "That was a screw-up. I'm surprised. I think I assumed that she had already got one, and that was incorrect. She deserves one. I'll call Biden."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

They also discussed more serious topics, like how Obama and his family stayed relatively grounded in Washington and amid their "outsized fame," and the downsides of president-elect Joe Biden facing a Senate led by "sand in the gears" Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). "Look, I experienced divided government and I will tell you that gridlock and dysfunction is a recipe for not only not solving big problems but also growing cynicism among the electorate that further polarizes folks," he said. "I think that Joe's presidency will help lower the temperature" and he'll "have some success in building back social trust," but "we're going to have a larger challenge in figuring out what to do about this splintered media landscape" and its assault on shared facts.

Obama also ruminated on the temptations and weight of drone warfare. "The problem with the drone program was not that it caused an inordinate amount of civilian casualties — although even one civilian casualty is tragic," he said. "The problem is it starts giving you the illusion that it is not war." Peter Weber

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us