Former President Obama Says Americans Live in Partisan Bubbles

Barack Obama and David Letterman

Surprisingly, Letterman sticks to the interview format for the duration.

However, Letterman's obsequiousness, Obama's cautious answers-he never directly mentioned Donald Trump-and the fact that the interview was taped last fall made for a tepid viewing experience.

The discussion meanders along the surface, touching on Russian interference in US elections and the state of discourse in American society - though never deeply.

The two sit facing each other in chairs on a stage at City University of NY, with no desk between then and no Paul Shaffer and his band delivering intros and outros, and they essentially discuss historical and biographical material we already know about, and without much depth.

"If you only watch Fox News", he says, "you're living in a different universe".

Obama describes his disappointment that social media, which was so key to his 2008 and 2012 victories has become a carefully calibrated weapon. Letterman told Obama at one point that he is the only president who he has ever truly respected. There are also lots of jokes about both men being quote-unquote unemployed. "I'm at Bed Bath & Beyond picking out wire hangers". Letterman obviously does not want that for this show.

"Barack Obama would have been here with you had he been the right age, wouldn't he?"

I see some of you are, but not all of you.

The interview, which was about an hour long, debuts on Netflix on Friday. The last time Letterman had so many viewers was in 1994, when his show aired after that year's Winter Olympics.


The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman said the interview was "not groundbreaking" and added that it was a "big disappointment" not to get juicy Obama remarks about Trump.

Obama, who has delivered similarly soaring exhortations in the past, stays away from the pulpit with Letterman, maintaining a sense of calm perspective.

"Without being just flat-out specific about it", Letterman says.

"It is a major setback to the hopes, the dreams and aspirations of a people".

At the word "planet", the audience laughed, but Obama continued his thought. "It only had like four parts and I'm just sitting there, toiling at this thing for half an hour and meanwhile, Michelle has finished scrubbing and she's organizing closets and I was just pretty pathetic". "Because I think everybody in here knows dads who get out of the pocket". And yet, as eloquent, humble, and inspiring as Obama remains, even when talking to comedians and pop-culture figures, the initial episode of Letterman's new gig suggests that the famously sarcastic and grumpy comedian might be the one to stir emotions this time around.

Letterman: "I have been nothing but lucky".

"I slept in, which I was pretty happy about", Obama, 56, told Letterman about the morning of January 21, 2017, the day after he left the White House. Why wasn't I in Alabama? Why wasn't I aware? "I have been nothing but lucky".

The clip ends with him asking if it was not something the host does, to more laughter from Letterman and the audience.

George Clooney will be Letterman's next subject.

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