What do we mean by that? Well, Stewart landed President Obama as a guest for Wednesday’s show. That’s a coup for the comedian in advance of his “Rally to Restore Sanity,” scheduled for Saturday on the National Mall.
But to get Mr. Obama, maybe – just maybe – Mr. Stewart agreed to have some other administration folks on as well. Such as Monday’s headliner: the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.
“Our guest tonight, President Barack Obama’s ... chief economist Austan Goolsbee. He’s good, too,” said Stewart at the start of the show, sort of apologizing in advance for the interviewee.
And he was good, or at least smooth – Mr. Goolsbee got his top job in part because he is a skilled television performer. It helps that he did improvisational comedy when he was a student at Yale. Though he did keep thrusting his arms forward, hands clenched, in what Stewart dubbed his “strangle motion”.
(We’re surprised Stewart did not go for the comic effect of the name, which sounds something like a character from a British film. “Austan Gooooollllllssssbeeeee, International Behavioral Economist of Mystery...)
The interview was pretty substantive. It dealt with the administration’s position on why unemployment is so high (the recession dug a very deep hole, and it will a long time to climb out of it) and Republican attitudes towards Obama (“It’s like the old East German judge – he can hit a triple Lutz, and they’re still going to give him a two,” said Goolsbee.)
But is Stewart too soft on Democratic interviewees? He let Goolsbee frame things up just the way the administration would like, days before a big election, on national TV. For instance, in the extended dance mix of the interview, which you can see on the web, Goolsbee described the president’s September proposal to spend another $50 billion on roads and other infrastructure as something “just being held up” by politically motivated GOP resistance.
Perhaps there is some of that. But there are also a lot of Republican and Democratic lawmakers who think that voting for another $50 billion in government spending is not the right thing to do now, given the current fiscal environment.
Stewart’s response? “I’m with you . . . you’re Braveheart as far as I’m concerned,” he said to Goolsbee.
Stewart was kidding there, probably. Perhaps he was still worried about that strangle motion.
Meanwhile, the parade of Democrats who are on the thin side and wear suits continues on Tuesday, with an appearance by Sen. Ted Kaufman (D) of Delaware, the former Joe Biden staffer who got appointed to the seat after Joe got his new VP job.
That’s the seat that Republican Christine O’Donnell and Democrat Chris Coons are now vying for. (Mr. Kaufman himself was just a placeholder – he didn’t run to get elected in his own right.) Do we think Stewart might possibly raise the subject of, say, someone’s old I-tried-witchcraft-as-a-youngster statement? Or her recent pronouncements on the separation of church and state?
Perish the thought.