Posts Tagged Jon Stewart

President Barack Obama and Jon Stewart: The reckoning (not really)

Jon Stewart interview President Barack Obama; July 21, 2015

It’s an unlikely double case of “senioritis,” Jon Stewart commented in his recent interview with President Barack Obama.

Jon is leaving The Daily Show in two and a half weeks, and some sort of national neurosis seems to have shifted Obama into his lame-duck period a bit early. I’m trying very hard to pretend that none of this is happening.

Whether speaking the truth about President George W. Bush when seemingly no one else would, or keeping Democrats from getting complacent in the Age of Obama, Jon has been, as Obama himself put it, a “gift to this country.”

He should know. Obama has been on The Daily Show numerous times both as a senator and president, and is in fact the first sitting president to appear on the program. Some may consider that a cynical ploy to win favor with the young voters that seem to listen only to Jon (and, until recently, Stephen Colbert), but regardless it’s been pretty entertaining.

Yet like most of those interview, this final installment wasn’t a love fest. Jon’s first two interviews with Obama as president were pretty awkward, and this time he started with a ribbing about the first 2012 presidential debate (where Obama’s appraised poor performance took precedence over Mitt Romney’s pigheadedness), and engaged in a more serious discussion on the VA toward the end.

Despite all of the enthusiasm of the 2008 election, it seems like criticizing Obama has become an initiation right for the liberal club over the past seven years. Maybe old Bush-era habits are hard to break, or maybe the Left has become a collection of gutless hipsters that can’t be associated with anything too popular.

Over the years, Jon Stewart has repeatedly shown how to do this right. He criticizes constructively and when he believes it is warranted, not simply attacking Obama and other leaders for not following a narrow ideological path. And his job is actually to make fun of those leaders, what’s everyone else’s excuse?

I spent most of college watching Obama make his way to the White House, and most of the time since watching him try to steer the country in the direction of progress. Things haven’t gone perfectly, but looking back I’d say it wasn’t exactly a fiasco either. All along the way, Jon Stewart has been there to help us make sense of everything, by not blowing it all out of proportion.

For what it’s worth, I’m proud that Barack Obama is my president, and no matter who is in office, I hope there will always be someone like Jon Stewart to make fun of them, although Jon himself is irreplaceable.

Because no matter who is sitting behind the desks in the Oval Office and a tiny studio in Hell’s Kitchen, meetings like this are probably good for the country.

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Christmas truce

Santa ClausLike Black Friday and red and green M&Ms, the annual “War on Christmas” has become a holiday tradition. Like fanatical Civil War re-enactors, the two sides array themselves for battle every year because they can’t actually kill each other.

On one side, there are the non-Christian heathens and the lawyers and municipal governments that defend them by removing Nativity scenes and Christmas trees from town squares and shopping malls. On the other side are the defenders of the faith, most of whom work for Fox News.

For anyone of a non-Christian persuasion, it’s difficult to see why pundits like Bill O’Reilly get so riled up every year (even though “Papa Bear” sort of has the word “riled” in his name). It’s not that there’s a problem with Christmas, it’s just hard to sympathize with a group that is in the majority when it claims it is being oppressed.

The PC crowd can get out of control, but the current situation is an accurate reflection of American demographics. The majority of Americans celebrate Christmas, but not everyone does. That means, once in awhile, someone might not want to see Santa Claus, or Jesus.

The other side of the coin shows that, for a country that ostensibly separates church and state, Christianity gets plenty of privileges. Christmas is a federal holiday, and there is a very ostentatious Christmas tree in the White House.

The season also lasts for almost two months: This past Halloween, I saw Santa at the local mall, talking to kids toting trick-or-treat bags.

Knowledge of Christianity also seeps into the non-Christian consciousness very easily. Everyone has Christian friends, or learns about some facet of the religion in school; it’s almost impossible to study history or literature without that knowledge.

On the other hand, many Americans go through their lives without really knowing anyone who doesn’t worship Jesus, and they only learn about alternative beliefs through their own curiosity or through special programs in more enlightened public schools.

With that in mind, it’s hard to see how saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” can really be a threat to Christians’ enjoyment of their holiday. The generals fighting the “War on Christmas” just don’t understand how good they have it.

Jon Stewart put it best when he said that people like Bill O’Reilly “have confused loss of absolute power with oppression.” The simple fact is that some people don’t celebrate Christmas, and that really shouldn’t be the concern of the people who do.

It really isn’t that big of a deal: If someone wants to say “Merry Christmas” or erect an elaborate Nativity scene, they’re entitled to. They just need to remember that they are not the only people in the world, and to not take that reality personally.

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