President Obama drew an unintentional laugh from the audience of The Daily Show Wednesday when he added a “but” to his famous campaign slogan, “Yes, we can.”
The slogan has been the target of much derision from progressive and conservative critics of the Obama presidency alike, a fact that was not lost on Jon Stewart’s audience Wednesday at a special taping of the Daily Show in Washington, DC.
At one point, Stewart asked the president if he was now operating on the principle of “Yes, we can, with certain conditions.”
Obama replied, “I think I would say, ‘Yes we can, but–’”
That drew laughter from the 550-strong audience that packed DC’s Harman Center for the Arts. It was the first time that a sitting president appeared on the Daily Show, though Obama appeared on the show during his 2008 campaign.
“This notion that we could quickly transform Washington — it’s a work in progress, it’s just not going to happen overnight,” Obama said, though pleaded for more time for the campaign for change he launched in 2008.
“When we promised during the campaign ‘change you can believe in,’ it wasn’t change you can believe in 18 months.”
Obama also dismissed an accusation that his signature health reform law, one of the most sweeping pieces of legislation for decades was “timid,” ahead of mid-term elections next Tuesday on which his Democrats fear a Republican wave.
Stewart also gently mocked Obama over one of his campaign mantras to supporters that “we are the change we’ve been waiting for.”
“Are we the people we were waiting for, or does it turn out those people are still out there — and we don’t have their number?” Stewart asked.
The president replied, “I am feeling great about where the American people are, considering what we have gone through.
“We have gone through two toughest years of any time since the Great Depression.”
The White House has regularly put Obama on platforms that have rarely, if ever, seen a president before. He became the first sitting president to appear on a late night talk show in 2009 when he was a guest on “The Tonight Show,” and later visited David Letterman’s “Late Show” set as well.
In each of the past two years, he’s appeared on ESPN’s SportsCenter to make NCAA basketball tournament selections. And he also was a guest on a daytime talk show, “The View.”
Gibbs added that the White House agreed to the “Daily Show” interview before Stewart announced his “March to Restore Sanity,” planned for the National Mall this Saturday. While making it clear Obama was in no way endorsing the event, Gibbs said that any effort to “get people involved in and excited in participating in that democracy on either side is a good thing.”
– With a report from AFP
This video is from Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, broadcast Oct. 28, 2010.