For the first time since President Obama took the Oval Office, Stephen Colbert welcomed First Lady Michelle Obama to his show Wednesday night. It was their second interview on “The Colbert Report” in four years, and a chance for the political pundit to hash over a few items on his own agenda with the diplomatic ingénue.
“The first time you were on this show, you were not the First Lady, now you are; that’s called ‘The Colbert bump,’” the talk show host pointed out. “As someone who has appeared on both my show and also on “iCarly,” which one of us has more gravitas?”
“That’s a tough one,” Obama laughed. “iCarly is about 16 and she’s real deep.”
Obama was appearing on Colbert’s nightly program to celebrate the one-year anniversary of her organization, Joining Forces, an effort she began with Jill Biden to assist the families of war veterans. Known also for her work challenging childhood obesity, Colbert asked his guest how she happened to pick her personal agendas, and what advancements she’d made to date.
“When I was campaigning, I got to meet all these military families, and I was awed by their sacrifice,” Obama explained. “They’re moving more than the average American family, their children are changing schools nine to 10 times in their educational careers, and they do it with grace, without complaint ... I said on the campaign trail, if I had the opportunity… I would be their voice and tell their story.”
Colbert outlined the struggle of U.S. military veterans to find work in a brief segment titled “The Word,” in which he brought out a marine and trained him to take over his pundit chair. While the satirist admitted he didn’t know many military families, as they were not in “the one percent that belong to my tennis club,” he talked to Obama about how she was personally tackling the unemployment rate among war vets.
“People have really been stepping up in some amazing ways, hiring our veterans, and providing wonderful opportunities for spouses,” she said. “Employment is a key issue. We’re seeing unemployment decrease in significant rates, but until we get to zero, we still have a lot of work to do.”
She continued. “These are people who bring in skills that affect the bottom line of companies. They’re the most highly skilled, highly trained, disciplined people.”
Or, as Colbert pointed out, they provide an inspirational role to their colleagues.
“Another great reason to hire someone who was in the military at your private business is the stories he has to tell about his previous job. It really makes all the inter-office complaining sound trivial,” he added.
Obama agreed. “It’s hard to be a whiner around a veteran.”
Though their discussion stayed primarily on topic, Colbert did not pass up an opportunity to get in a few jibes on the Commander-in-Chief. He asked the First Lady about the likelihood her husband was watching the broadcast, something she replied he might be “deeply concerned” about.
The host also addressed Obama’s overwhelming national admiration, and whether she was ever able to use it for leverage with the President.
“Do you every lord over the President the fact that you’re more popular?” The talk show host questioned.
“I might do that when I get home,” she laughed, quickly following it up with an affirmation. “I am endorsing Barack Obama. I think he’ll be a phenomenal president. I think he’s done a wonderful job so far. He’s my man.”