President Obama sat down with Jon Stewart for an interview that will air on The Daily Show tonight. According to White House pool reports, they talked for a little less than 15 minutes, and while some questions were light-hearted, others weren't. Stewart asked Obama about the attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi:
Stewart: "Is part of the investigation helping the communication between these divisions? Not just what happened in Benghazi, but what happened within. Because I would say, even you would admit, it was not the optimal response, at least to the American people, as far as all of us being on the same page."
Obama : "Here's what I'll say. If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal. We're going to fix it. All of it. And what happens, during the course of a presidency, is that the government is a big operation and any given time something screws up. And you make sure that you find out what's broken and you fix it. Whatever else I have done throughout the course of my presidency the one thing that I've been absolutely clear about is that America’s security comes, and the American people need to know exactly how I make decisions when it comes to war, peace, security, and protecting Americans. And they will continue to get that over the next four years of my presidency."
Obama explained why the information the White House released after the attacks was so confusing for so long:
Obama: "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...
The pool report says Stewart teased Obama about his different debate performances with two photos:
One showed Michelle Obama looking at him very angrily onstage afterward, and the other showed her smiling broadly at him afterward. "Do you know which debate was which?" Stewart asked. "Cute. Cute Jon," Potus said with a smile.
Stewart also seemed to challenge Obama's campaign strategy:
Stewart asked if had made a stronger affirmative case for a second term or more negative one against Romney. Potus listed his accomplishments such as ending the Iraq war, health care, the auto bailout and said he had a "strong story to tell" but he added that part of his job was "also preventing things that won’t work." He listed restricting rights for gays and lesbians, not passing a budget to make college more affordable and rolling back health care and turning medicade into a voucher system.
And [Obama] also said that if you look at 2013, the question on deficit reduction will be “settled,” the only question was how to do it and whether Republicans would refuse to ask “millionaires and billionaires to pay another dime in extra taxes.”
Stewart interjected: “Wait, this is the first time I’m hearing about this about millionaires. What are you doing to us?”
The audience laughed as Potus tried to calm his mock concern. “No,” Stewart continued, “I’m going to throw to a commercial and you and I are going to have a conversation.”
He threw to a commercial. The second segment started with a light question: How many times a week does Biden come into a meeting in wet bathing suit. POTUS answered that he had to put out a presidential directive on that.
And on civil liberties:
Stewart asked about the Bush wiretapping program. POTUS said it has been modified, with a "legal structure and safeguards in place that weren't there before."
"They aren't sexy issues," POTUS said.
"You don’t know what I find sexy," Stewart quipped.
POTUS alluded to the opening segment in which Stewart referenced the book "50 Shades of Gray."
"I know what you’ve been reading," he joked. But declined to press further because, after all, he is still president.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.