The two also pulled off a stunt in which Obama sat in Colbert’s chair and played the temporary role of Colbert’s faux-conservative TV commentator. “Nation, as you know, I, Stephen Colbert, have never cared for our president,” said Obama. “The guy is so arrogant. I bet he talks about himself in the third person.” With that, Obama-as-Colbert went on a false tirade against Obamacare, outlining various strategies for killing it off. “Nation, the question is, how do you stop something that more and more people are starting to like?” That came after he went through some agreed-upon benefits of the health-care program, not to mention the millions who have signed up for it.
Here, the White House was looking to reach young folks, a pivotal demographic for health-care reform, with a comedy-infused public-policy appeal. It sought the same effect back in March, when Obama sat down with Zach Galifianakis on the show “Between Two Ferns.”
There’s an important difference, however. The “Between Two Ferns” thing was funny and even a bit edgy. This Colbert stunt wasn’t; it was boring talking points recited in front of a roaring studio audience and wrapped in the comic genius of Comedy Central. But still boring talking points.