Last night, President Obama visited a safe liberal stronghold in the guest chair on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
While the majority of the interview stood in as another stump speech for the incumbent, Jon Stewart as a satirist was able to lighten up the mood and have Obama crack jokes with him – this is Comedy Central, after all.
But the comedy host takes his job seriously in some way, and spent some time asking serious questions. In the second half of his interview he called Obama out for failing to orchestrate a proper public response to the aftermath of the Benghazi embassy attacks. To which the President responded that the situation was not optimal, but he above all else has the nation's security as his first priority.
Most importantly however, Stewart pressed upon the President an important issue that even the most ardent of supporters he has, have questioned him upon: the continuation of extrajudicial security operations domestically and internationally.
Stewart posed another question: whether or not Obama still believed that the nation wouldn’t have to exchange its values in favour of security. Obama remarked, “…there are tough trade-offs, where there are bad folks on the other side of the world, and we have had to make some tough calls…and we can make these calls within international and U.S. law…”
“We’re surprised to see Bush-era warrantless wiretapping laws and the like not be lessened, and many thought that it was government overreaching, and many thought you would tone that down, and you haven’t.”, the satirist stated.
The President responded that modifications have been made to these laws and structures, and that a legal architecture and other safeguards are being put in place that weren’t there previously.
“These aren’t very sexy issues but,” – and that was when the important answer we were about to hear was muffled by a joke.
“You don’t know what I think is sexy!” retorted Stewart, which was followed by a few more jokes until he switched gears and went on to another question.
While the President may be solid on many issues, his endorsement of extrajudicial operations deserve to be questioned not only by his opponents on the right, but by his supporters on the left.