Barack Obama Talks Daughters, Racism on Letterman's Netflix Show; Avoids Trump Completely

Barack Obama Talks Daughters, Racism on Letterman's Netflix Show; Avoids Trump Completely

(The première episode also includes a stirring segment of Letterman in Selma, Alabama, walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Congressman John Lewis.) Mostly, the former President is on autopilot, speaking in the way he sometimes does, where you can nearly see him thinking a few sentences or ideas ahead, which makes him appear less than completely present.

Lewis, talking with Letterman on his Netflix show "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction", said he believed recent actions by President Donald Trump was also a "major setback" for black people and the world at large. That's not unlike the situation (multiplied a million-fold) when Letterman competed with Jay Leno and Leno beat him in the ratings from 1995 to 2009, and then 2010 to 2014 (with Conan O'Brien taking up a few months on "The Tonight Show in-between Leno's two stints)". It's Georgia Rep. John Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement who was beaten and suffered a fractured skull when police attacked marchers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., on "Bloody Sunday", 1965. This first episode returns to Obama on stage and then again back to Lewis walking the bridge, going deeper into a discussion of our racial divide and the awakening of one young Barack Obama.

While Letterman obviously isn't a fan of Trump, who appeared on The Late Show several times, the focus isn't him.

Ironically, Letterman may talk more politics with some of those guests than he did with Obama. "The only thing I have left to do for the last time on a television program - thank you and good night". At one point, Obama tries that on Letterman.

The audience laughs at the mention of Fox, as if it's meant as a humorous dig, but Obama goes on to argue the importance of accurate news reporting as an antidote to the current reality that too many Americans live in "a bubble" of their own biases.

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

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The closest he comes to dipping his toes in the contemporary political water is wryly suggesting that one of our biggest current problems lies in not having a common set of facts on which we can all agree.

"Oh, he would have been here", Lewis replies. "Everybody had seen me crying and misting up for the previous three weeks, so Malia, who's very thoughtful, she says, 'Hey dad, you know, I got this lamp in this box".

In the episode's final minutes, Obama, pondering his own success and the lives of successful people, asks Letterman if he feels like his life has been lucky.

"We went to Japan, had not been to Japan before". Why wasn't I in Alabama?

The upcoming episode of "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman" is a first for both persons involved. If this seems a non-sequitur in the context of the Obama interview Letterman is leading onstage before it cuts away, there's a connection. The next episode, featuring George Clooney, streams February 9.

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