“I want to connect. I don’t want to do a policy discussion,” said Jewish funnyman, Marc Maron, in his introduction to his biweekly podcast before his biggest interview yet – with President Barack Obama.
The host of WTF spoke with The President in his (literal) garage in Pasadena, CA, for an hour last Friday as a security detail swarmed his neighborhood, complete with a sniper on the roof (that may have been a joke).
He took the extra security precautions in stride, joking before The President arrived about the security sweep of his house, “I had to hide my cats in the bedroom. They had to sweep that separately.”
Maron and Obama jumped right into a discussion, wasting little time on pleasantries. As the conversation veered from Obama’s teenage rebellion phase to his opinions on gun control, the issue of race always lurked in the background.
Of course, the podcast was recorded on Friday, two days after Dylann Roof murdered 9 African Americans in Emanuel AME Church, so it’s not really that surprising that the conversation veered in that direction.
“Right around 20,” Obama said, “I started figuring out a lot of ideas that I had taken on about being a rebel or being a tough guy or being cool, were really not me. They were just things that I was trying on because I was insecure, or I was a kid. And that’s… a scary one, because then you start realizing, well, I actually have to figure out what I really do believe, and what is important, and who am I really.”
As a young man, Obama said he struggled to come to terms with being an African American and his affirmation of the white side of his family. Eventually he realized the importance and inherent race-blindness of his mother’s teachings, the importance of “honesty, kindness, hard work, responsibility, looking after other people.”
The president took a pessimistic view on the future of gun regulations and criticized the power of NRA lobbyists. “I don’t see foresee any legislative action being taken in this Congress,” he said. He then called on the American public to get their act together and vote for “common sense gun safety laws, that by the way, the majority of gun owners support.”
And although the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary may have faded from public eye, Obama certainly did not forget. “When twenty 6-year-olds are gunned down and Congress literally does nothing, that’s the closest I came to feeling disgusted,” he told Maron, when he asked Obama if he ever “gets furious.”
Maron ended the interview on a lighter note, asking, “So what do you do for fun?”
Well friends, our president loves comedy, and listed “Richard Pryor, Dick Gregory, Louis CK, and Jerry Seinfeld, who’s “a whole other different type.”
Obama praised comedians’ craft, saying, “they have a sense of when it works and when it doesn’t. And then longer you do it, the better your instincts are,”
Maron joked, “Same with President?”
“Yeah, same with President,” Obama laughed and continued, “I think I’m a better president and I would be a better candidate if I was running again… I know what I’m doing and I’m fearless.”