President Barack Obama took his first and final turn on the satircal Colbert Report Monday night, fending off verbal assaults from the faux-conservative comedian.
Obama appeared on stage ostensibly minutes before his scheduled interview time, and replaced Colbert at the presenter’s desk while engaging in some self-mockery and a plug of his signature healthcare law. “Stephen, you’ve been taking a lot of shots at my job, so I’m taking a shot at yours,” Obama deadpanned. “How hard can this be? I’m just going to say whatever you say.”
Pretending to be Colbert’s conservative alter-ego, Obama blasted himself as “arrogant” and made the show’s signature segment, “The Word,” more presidential by renaming it “The Decree.”
The appearance was partly meant to highlight the ongoing open enrollment for health insurance in 2015, with the president directing his pitch at the younger Americans watching the show.
Colbert, once safely back in his chair, peppered Obama with questions about the midterm elections and his agenda for his last two years, to which Obama responded with familiar answers about finding a way to work with Congress.
After Obama plugged Friday’s jobs report, Colbert quipped “I’ll give it to you. You’ve employed a lot of people, mostly as Secretary of Defense” (a reference to last month’s resignation of Chuck Hagel and nomination of Ash Carter). “That’s boosted our numbers a little bit,” Obama responded sheepishly.
Colbert noted that in 2008 Obama criticized the accumulation of executive power under President George W. Bush, challenging him that now “you seem to have a whole lot of power.”
Colbert asked: “Does that happen to every president, where you get into the office and you think ‘oh you know what I might be the only one I trust with this much power so I’ll hold onto it’?”
“For the first time, you’re asking a sensible question,” Obama replied with a laugh. “My preference would be to get a whole lot more done through Congress,” he added, saying he acts within the law.
Branding Obama “Baracus Maximus I,” Colbert lampooned the president’s unilateral executive actions on immigration reform, asking in true caricature form why the president decided to “burn the Constitution.” Obama defended the actions, saying he’s confident they were legal and appropriate and reiterating his call on Congress to act.
Obama opened up about his home life to Colbert, saying his wife and daughters “give me a hard time” and keep him humble.
“There are no trumpets,” the leader of the free world added. “They tease me mercilessly for my big ears, or my stodgy suits.” He said he does normal things like leaving his socks on the floor, which, he noted, does not go over well with his family.
At one point Colbert, who was in Washington D.C. on a final swing of his eponymous Report before he takes the helm of the CBS Late Show next year, tried to have Obama reveal his nuclear launch codes, asking whether they include 5 as one of the numbers.
“You’re not going to get close to even one number in the nuclear launch codes,” Obama quipped.