Obama tells TV host politics is no laughing matter

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 on The Daily Show despite host Jon Stewart’s attempts to draw out the president’s humorous side with a few of his own wisecracks.

Ahead of the critical November 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?” he asked.

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% unemployment rate, sinking housing values and an economy that is growing but not fast enough.

But Obama said his administration has also stabilised 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 programme 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.”

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 next Tuesday.

Obama said he hopes voters will reward some Democrats from largely conservative districts who took votes they knew would be bad politically but did so anyway because they thought it was the right thing to do. He named freshman Republican Tom Perriello of Virginia, who voted for Obama’s health care overhaul and is in a tight race re-election race.

“My hope is that those people are rewarded for taking those tough votes,” Obama said. “If they are, then I think Democrats will do fine on Election Day.”


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