Barack Obama Says Joe Biden Will Help "Lower the Temperature" After Trump Presidency

'A Late Show with Stephen Colbert' and guest Barack Obama during Tuesday's November 24, 2020 show.
CBS

'A Late Show with Stephen Colbert' and guest Barack Obama during Tuesday's November 24, 2020 show.

Stephen Colbert had such a long sit-down interview with former President Barack Obama that he said he needed to split their discussion into two parts. "I’m going to serve you up some delicious leftovers," the late-night host said at the top of Monday’s A Late Show.

Obama has been making the media rounds to promote his new memoir, A Promised Land, which details his first 27 months of being president. "It will take most people 27 months to finish," Colbert quipped of the almost 800-page book. The book has become an immediate success, selling over 1.7 million copies in the first week of publication.

Throughout the second part of their interview, Obama discussed whether he missed being president and discussed the challenges in store for President-Elect Joe Biden.

Now being out of the office, Obama said it's common for him to be asked if he wished he had a third term. "Even on my worst days, I found puzzling out these big complicated difficult issues…. To be professionally really satisfying," Obama said. However, he admitted he didn't necessarily miss being president for a particular reason. "I do not miss having to wear a tie every day," he said.

As Obama’s former Vice President Joe Biden was declared the president-elect, what would normally be a routine transition has faced obstacles as President Donald Trump continues to make false claims that Biden didn't truly win the election because Trump claims it was rigged.

"What the hell happens now?," Colbert asked Obama of the post-election chaos to which Obama replied, "I think he’s in a good position to make the effort." "The fact that he won is indicative of the message he sent of wanting to unify the country."

Obama continued to add that he believes the country is "exhausted" by the "constant cage match" and it’s conspicuous many want to "feel as if a day passes without it being dominated by something crazy coming out of the White House or Washington."

"He will have some success in building back social trust because he is naturally someone who is empathetic and cares about people, but I think that we’re going to have a larger challenge," he explained of the "media landscape" Biden has been left to confront.

When reflecting on past presidencies, Obama explained that "whether you were a conservative or a liberal" news usually came from the same place, resulting in there being a "common baseline of facts." "And now you don’t," he said.

Obama said Biden’s presidency will "help lower the temperature," but the division has clearly resulted in challenges and concerns. He compared Trump’s arguments that the election was rigged to that of someone claiming a certain team didn’t win the Super Bowl despite everyone having watched the game.

"You’re keeping score the whole time then at the end of the game a team’s won and somebody says, 'no field goals aren’t worth three points' or 'that wasn’t really a touchdown.' We’ve all been watching," he said. "But when that starts happening, the game itself breaks down and this time it’s not a game it’s our democracy. Imagine if going forward every single election is treated this way at every level."

"That is the concern that we all have….We don’t want to get into a pattern where we just are willing to throw out what we agreed to previously."

Later on, Colbert complimented Obama and Michelle for being normal in comparison to others in government. "You seem like people we would know," Colbert said. Obama said it helped that his "political success happened late."

"At 40 I had just lost a congressional race, maxed out on my credit cards. I’m going to the grocery store with Malia and so we had lived a normal middle-class life with student loans, washing your own car, waiting for luggage at the airport coming back from vacation and so we then get kind of shot out of a cannon but you’re formed by that point," he explained.

Of his and Michelle’s approach to being at the center of attention, Obama said, "We both took the outsized fame with a grain of salt." He also credited his mother-in-law for being around because she was unfazed by the fame.

Apart from politics, Obama and Colbert shared some laughs during the interview where the late-night host questioned why he only dedicated three pages to detailing the origins of his relationship with Michelle Obama when she dedicated 63 pages in her book, Becoming.

"Are you trying to get me in trouble?" Obama said laughing. "I’m not going to challenge her version of events. She’s done it. That’s how it happened." He also reiterated that he’ll detail more in his second book.

Already having golfed with previous presidents such as George W. Bush, Colbert asked whether Obama has visited the golf course with Trump. "He’s actually a pretty good golfer. I understand that shockingly enough there is sometimes problems with the scoring," Obama quipped.