WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama apparently thinks politics is no laughing matter, even when he’s staring down a comedian.
Obama barely cracked any jokes during an appearance Wednesday on "The Daily Show" despite host Jon Stewart’s many attempts to draw the president out with a few of his own snarky wisecracks.
Less than a week before the critical Nov. 2 congressional elections, Obama said he hopes Democratic lawmakers who made tough votes will be rewarded with another term in office. He promised more but unspecified accomplishments in the two years left on his own term in the Oval Office and urged people to vote — early if they can.
Stewart asked how the political environment got to the point that Democrats "seem to be running on ‘Please, baby, one more chance’" just two years after Obama ran a successful presidential campaign built around "very high rhetoric, hope and change."
"Are you disappointed in how it’s gone?" asked the Comedy Central satirist.
Obama seemed to suggest that he wasn’t disappointed. He said his advisers had told him during the euphoria of his 2008 election to "enjoy this now because two years from now folks are going to be frustrated. That is, in fact, what’s happening."
He listed high unemployment, sinking housing values and an economy that is growing but not fast enough as reasons. But Obama said that his administration has also stabilized the economy, noting it has grown for nine months in a row, and that he signed health care and financial bills. He suggested that his administration did so much that "we have done things that some folks don’t even know about."
The comment seemed to catch Stewart by surprise.
"What have you done that we don’t know about?," he asked. "Are you planning a surprise party for us, filled with jobs and health care?"
Obama cited legislation extending health care to children and broadening a national service program as examples.
"Over and over again, we have moved forward an agenda that is making a difference in people’s lives each and every day," Obama replied. "Is it enough? No. And so I expect, and I think most Democrats out there expect, that people want to see more progress."
Obama also said he hopes voters will reward some Democratic lawmakers for taking tough votes. He said they knew their votes would be bad politically but that they voted that way because it was the right thing to do.
Obama cited freshman Rep. Tom Perriello, D-Va., who voted for the president’s health care bill and is in a tight race against Republican state Sen. Robert Hurt. Obama plans to be in Charlottesville, Va., on Friday to campaign with Perriello.
"My hope is that those people are rewarded for taking those tough votes," Obama said. If so, "then Democrats will be rewarded on election night."