How Obama showed off his 'dad moves' with Prince

President Barack Obama with David Letterman whose interview

With no shortage of daytime and late-night programs to go around these days, the excitement around David Letterman's new Netflix series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, has been a testament to his titanic position within the talk-show sphere. If there's a bold idea with My Next Guest, it's to be as un-bold as possible.

Also unsafe for democracy, Obama says: political forces that keep trying to suppress rather than broaden voting.

The pair are very relaxed together, genuinely seeming to be friends and starting by bonding over their respective retirements, Obama having immediately headed to the British Virgin Islands, Letterman to an island off Newfoundland. With Letterman as with Dan Rather, a stripped-down interview show is an ideal landing spot for someone who's not ready to head out to pasture.

A few months ago I saw Letterman interview Al Franken here in NY, a bit before Franken's current controversies. With Obama and Clooney, Letterman - a late-in-life dad - talks to them about experiencing fatherhood, which is about as much as he opens up. Obama, like Lewis, ties the march directly to Obama's eventual election as president, saying that without people who were willing to put themselves on the line, we never would have progressed to the point where we could elect a black president.

"When you become president and you're in the Oval Office you feel, 'OK, now I have to act presidential.' And we lost track of what had gotten us there, and that was our ability to tell stories and relate to people", Obama said.

Throughout the whole interview, Obama's intelligence, humility and sense of calm were actually profoundly depressing, because they represent the key presidential qualities in which his successor is so lacking. Letterman walked onstage, introduced his guest, and they sat down for an hour.

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The three-plus decades Letterman spent in late night serve him well in this setting, both as a listener and in the rapport he has developed with these newsmakers.

This time around, he's partnered with Netflix for a pared-back version of his Late Show. "I am a different person; The big challenge in life is to be better every day, he says". Letterman seems sincerely if belatedly in awe of what happened there.

This was very moving, many stylistic miles removed from the barrier-bursting tomfoolery that once made the host famous. (He'd quickly have to overcome his reluctance to speak about the current President.) I'm already picturing his interview with Hillary Clinton, perhaps a pair of tumblers on a glass-top between them.

You could appreciate the irony: A recent President explaining show business to a late night legend. But there's a corrective feeling to this show.

Sarandos said he hopes Letterman's show will attract more subscribers. What's interesting, however, is even though the beard might suggest Letterman is in a gives-no-fucks stage of his career, this show is far more mature, more relaxed, and at many times more touching than his previous one. She is the famed activist from Pakistan who is the youngest person to ever win a Nobel Prize.


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