To cleanse the palate, here’s the clip that has Beltway media typing with one hand today. This is, more or less, the standard Obama comedy M.O. (the White House Correspondents Dinner is a notable exception): In exchange for a platform to pitch something to the type of young voter who wouldn’t otherwise watch a presidential speech, he agrees to play straight man to a comedian for a segment or two. He did it for Jimmy Fallon in the “slow jam the news” segment during the 2012 campaign; he did it in March with Zach Galifianakis to sell ObamaCare to twentysomethings during the home stretch of open enrollment; now here he is taking over Colbert’s show for a few minutes, with most of the jokes provided by the captions next to him, to give those same twentysomethings a heads up that enrollment for the new year is underway. (The gag about him aging did make me laugh. Obama usually allows a little self-deprecation for these things, which is smart.)
I don’t have numbers in front of me but he seems to be doing more of these stunts as he slips further into lame-duckery, from semi-retirement towards real retirement. Not only did he do the Galifianakis skit earlier this year, he was supposed to show up for a “special” segment on Jimmy Kimmel’s show this summer. That ended up being canceled at the last minute after Putin made his move on Ukraine and ISIS made its move on Iraq and the White House decided that O’s summer o’ fun — golfing, beers and pool with Hickenlooper in Denver, a little partying up at Martha’s Vineyard — probably shouldn’t include more funsies in such a visible format. Luckily, with anti-police protests happening nationwide, an unprecedented executive power grab on immigration being implemented, and another American hostage murdered by jihadis just this past week, our nation has settled back into a lull where late-night hijinx with Colbert don’t seem so tone-deaf.
Nice job by the irreverent Stephen Colbert and his writing staff, incidentally, in turning over a large chunk of their satire show for a political commercial by the most powerful man on the planet. Exit question via Sean Davis: “At what point did being the court jester become an honorable, enviable position?”