The one Republican face you've hungered for on the small-screen is back. Conservative pundit Stephen Colbert's goodbye to Barack Obama was everything his liberal counterpoint, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert presenter, freely admitted he couldn't offer. No, he couldn't distill eight Obama-filled years into a few minutes; you'd have to be “a delusional egomaniac” to attempt to do so. Cue: Stephen Colbert's right-wing alter ego.
Joining us from just outside his cabin on the Mountain of Justice before brandishing a Captain America style shield and sword, the character, who liberal Colbert wanted us to be very clear on for legal reasons "wasn't a character I played for 10 years on another show," proceeded to give us his opinion on today's historic events:
Yet despite this opening, right-wing Colbert's take on the former President offered one weird effect: it managed to cut to the heart of what it is we're all going to miss about Obama so much and summarize it into a speech of just a few minutes long.
The segment wasn't sentimental, because it suggested that, like so many presidents before him, Obama wasn't without his flaws. The right-wing pundit found himself praising the former president, who Colbert-as-Colbert alleged expanded the "killer drone program," spied on American citizens using the NSA, allowed the "Wall Street banks" to get even bigger, and failed to close Guantanamo Bay.
But clearly Obama had done some things very right indeed, since conservative Colbert felt moved to exclaim that every year under the Obama administration felt like “he was strangling a bald eagle with the American flag while taking a dump on an apple pie." And, somehow, the pundit managed to cover so many of the things we hold Obama dear for in his speech (and in the words that accompanied it at the side of the screen).
For starters, Michelle Obama. Even if that had been the only benefit Obama had brought to American citizens' lives, it would have been a huge one. Michelle has spoken movingly about Trump and sexual assault, launched the Let's Move! campaign to reverse childhood obesity, campaigned tirelessly for gay marriage, and supported Hillary Clinton in her campaign while raising two daughters under intense media scrutiny.
For second, Obama's unwavering dignity in leading an administration against those Colbert termed "guys like me" who stand for "the opposite of whatever you just said." Truly, has there ever been a President who kept his cool in such absurd circumstances? Colbert neatly summarized the sort of pressure Obama was under when he cited as an example "[he] said he was born in the United States, so we said he wasn't." While "post-factual politics" is a phrase that's been thrown around a lot since Trump first started running for president, it's important to remember that Obama faced insane, groundless allegations from the get-go (a handy visual summary of which can be found here), long before Trump was on the scene, and did so with immense calm.
Colbert also stressed the spite of those who campaigned against Obama in the segment where he talked about how this Audacity of Nope meant sometimes "abandoning our own beliefs," citing how critics of the former President argued that Obamacare was socialism when, in fact, Colbert claimed it was based on Romneycare (something also claimed by magazines and Romney himself).
Michelle Obama. Dignity under pressure. So committed to consensus politics that you partially base your health policy on the work of a Republican who then uses his presidential campaign to threaten to repeal Obamacare (yep: that same policy that's really similar to Romneycare). One thing is for sure in this post-factual era: Barack Obama, we'll miss you.