Jon Stewart: Stand Up Guy

Jon Stewart: Stand Up Guy

Alright, so he made me look like a bit of a square, but that doesn't matter. Jon Stewart was respectful during my visit to The Daily Show and I was just happy to not be talking to a yes-man or an irrationally hateful opponent. And let's face it, I kinda am a square. I mean, I'm the President, the very definition of The Man. I was only cool when I was the scrappy underdog. I couldn't expect to bring that street cred with me to the top. I've made peace with my uncoolness just in time for my daughters to get to the age when they try their best to avoid me. But hey, I'm still cooler than Bush. That old bastard never accepted any of TDS's invitations, nor has Sarah freaking Palin. Sure, John McCain was a regular for a little while but his last appearance during the election was a complete PR disaster. Stewart's not a stupid guy. He tore John to pieces like an elegant fencer. At least I held my own.

And ya know what? I feel good about the fan response. They cheered for real accomplishments, which is encouraging. I meant what I said about the nuances of the health care bill and the complexities (and absurdities) of the congressional process. I never said we'd change the country overnight and I treated my electorate like they could understand that. I've tried to have respect for the American people, tried to acknowledge that they can inform themselves and have mature opinions and expectations. People aren't as stupid as most leaders would have us believe, but they're also impossible to please.

The truth about social justice is that it's an infinite process. There's no such thing as a law that isn't patchwork. I understand that people get frustrated when the new legislation doesn't do anything for them personally. That's to be expected. But if any politician in a democratic republic tried to fix everything at once, he'd fail to fix anything at all.

Strange as it is to say it, being a President is not glamorous, especially a sitting President. It's our lot in life to be disappointing heroes, false prophets and villains while we live, then champions when we die. Hell, when they put Reagan in the ground he got the royal treatment even though he was never anything but contentious. Even Nixon went down with honor. So, fine, I'll be the guy who couldn't deliver paradise after a decade of disaster. I don't expect cheers and statues in my name for averting another Depression or making it possible for cancer kids to get their treatment. Why? Because nobody should be applauded just for not screwing up.

In the end, I'm glad Stewart asked the questions that he did, because nobody else ever does. At least not while I'm in the room. I know I built an image for myself during the campaign and now I have to answer for the discrepancies between it and who I am today. If I have to take that beating, I'd rather take it face-to-face with a man I respect than in absentia from less informed pundits.