Obama: Presidents Must Be Mindful of Their Behavior


Throughout the whole interview, Obama's intelligence, humility and sense of calm were actually profoundly depressing, because they represent the key presidential qualities in which his successor is so lacking.

In contrast to Letterman's previous 22 years of hosting comedy-centric, late-night shows (NBC's "Late Night" and CBS's "The Late Show"), the first episode of his Netflix series features a more thoughtful and laid-back approach to the talk-show genre. Of course, this wish was just a lark: clearly the job was beneath the dignity of the office he was leaving behind.

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There wasn't much talk of the current president, though the conversation did broach the political.

At first, I was disappointed with the premiere of David Letterman's new Netflix show, "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction", for what it did NOT do. The former President, wearing a trim suit and white shirt, open at the collar, joins Letterman for an hour-long conversation that was recorded before a small audience, this fall, in NY. Letterman told Obama at one point that he is the only president who he has ever truly respected.

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Just when you thought you couldn't love Barack Obama more comes the story of the day he droppedMalia off at Harvard University in August 2017. A little longer, a little less aggressive and a little more ponderous than the Letterman we remember.

Obama likened the entire move-in experience to "open-heart surgery", as he previously said in an interview with WDEL radio.

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If you're thinking that Letterman coming out of retirement, lured to Netflix, is going to lead to something wholly new and super exciting, well, no. As Letterman asked Lewis how big of a setback he thinks we're enduring, a photo of the deadly "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Virginia appeared on screen-but Letterman never directly referenced it. She once delivered such a sick burn to the late night host that he's still talking about it! The jokes were fewer and further between, and Letterman doesn't egg Obama for a sound bite or anecdote at any particular moment. And, by golly, Dave seems to be having the time of his life. While news is peaking - and piquing - about Trump's insults toward African countries and Haiti, all of the Selma material in "My Next Guest", including clips of Obama's speech on the 50th anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery, feels muted and evasive. The New Yorker's Ian Crouch lavished praise on Obama for his looseness and humor, saying he would make a good television host himself, although adding-less critically-that the ex-president's remarks during the hour-long show have mostly been said before. (He'd quickly have to overcome his reluctance to speak about the current President.) I'm already picturing his interview with Hillary Clinton, perhaps a pair of tumblers on a glass-top between them.