Barack Obama was on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” Thursday, but he wasn’t too funny.
Actually, the appearance of world leaders on late night talk shows hardly ever produces big laughs, as hosts try to keep the tone a little bit more serious and maybe eke out some actual news, even on a fake news show.
Even so, it was no news that Obama didn’t do well in his first debate with Mitt Romney. “Obviously I had an off night,” he said, “The presentation wasn’t the way it needed to be. But the issues haven’t changed.”
Stewart also felt he had to ask about the “confused” initial characterization of the attack on the consulate in Libya, an issue that’s been blown way out of proportion about whether it was declared an act of terror or the result of a violent protest. Either way, four people still died.
Obama said, “We weren’t confused about the fact that four Americans had been killed. I wasn’t confused about the fact that we needed to ramp up diplomatic security around the world right after it happened. I wasn’t confused about the fact that we had to investigate exactly what happened so it gets fixed. And I wasn’t confused about the fact that we’re going to hunt down whoever did it and bring them to justice.”
Actually, politicians aren’t very good when they come on late night shows affixed with jokes as Hilary Clinton and Al Gore have done.
Rather, Obama saved his best material Thursday for the Al Smith Dinner, also in New York. There, in white tie and tails, he did the traditional self-effacing material in a room seated next to his political opponent.
It was a good natured evening, especially compared to a debate that seemed close to fisticuffs Tuesday.
“Everyone please take your seats,” Obama began. “Otherwise Clint Eastwood will yell at them.”
“It seems like this race has dragged on forever,” he said at another point. “But Paul Ryan assured me that we’ve only been running for two hours and 50-something minutes.”
Of his lackluster performance in the first debate, he said “I learned there are worse things that can happen to you on your anniversary than forgetting to buy a gift.”
And of his more energetic debate performance Tuesday, “I felt really well rested after the nice, long nap I had in the first.”
He also skewered Romney’s wealth saying, “Earlier I went shopping at some stores in Midtown. I understand Governor Romney went shopping for some stores in Midtown…”
Romney, for his part, had some good comedy writers as well.
“We’re down to the final months of the president’s term,” Romney said, speaking wishfully. “You have to wonder what he’s thinking: So little time, so much to redistribute.”
Romney also said, “I was actually hoping the president would bring Joe Biden along this evening. He’ll laugh at anything.”