It was a bittersweet night for two men who history will link together forever. There was something about the way that Barack Obama walked on stage at The Daily Show on Tuesday night. When Jon Stewart introduced the president for the sixth and final time, Obama applauded as much as the audience did. He clapped, presumably for Stewart and the crowd, and walked across the set with poise and confidence. Obama strode out looking like a boss.
So often on talk shows, where they always feel a bit vulnerable, politicians display some false modesty or pander to the audience. Not Obama. He behaved as though he belonged there, and that everyone was happy to see him. It’s as if he was returning to Rome after salting the earth of some Carthaginian village. When appearing before an audience as liberal as the one at The Daily Show (and those watching at home), Obama is a little bit like the conquering hero, especially after his recent peace accord with Iran.
But after the hugs and a few jokes about how he is going to issue an executive order to keep Stewart from leaving the show, what we were really looking at was two men looking to cement their legacies with the public.
This was Stewart’s last time interviewing Obama before leaving his post at The Daily Show in mid-August. Obama has been appearing on the show since 2005, when he was a senator, but this interview was a lot less harsh than Stewart’s questioning of the commander-in-chief than his 2012 visit. But still Stewart was pressing the president on important matters, showing off his skill as an interviewer and displaying one of the sharper political minds in the media, though one that is quicker to make a joke about “future president Trump” than most others.
Something that President Obama learned over the years visiting the Daily Show , he clearly knows that he’s better at taking a joke than making a joke. He laughs appropriately when Stewart brings the funny, but he doesn’t try to get in on the comedy. Obama stayed on script, but shared the stage with Stewart, two men basking in the afterglow of the best parts of their careers, and it was a sunset worth posting on Instagram.