On the first episode of David Letterman's new Netflix show "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction", the former president revealed to the ex-"Late Show" host that he was pretty much a "useless", emotional wreck while dropping his daughter off for her first day at college.
And here's why it works. Instead, Letterman asks Obama to talk about his upbringing, his mother, his reckoning with his own identity - well-trod territory, retold as if viewers have never heard of this person named Barack Obama. Obama heads it off at the pass, answering instead with a long riff about the exploding importance of social media in the election process. 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. One particular story involving the Obama daughters has everyone missing the first family.
He's still articulate, authoritative and persuasive without sounding condescending or arrogant.
"Without being just flat-out specific about this, how big a setback is the current administration?" "If you watch Fox News, you are living on a different planet than you are if you listen to NPR".
"If you are getting all your information off algorithms being sent through phone and it's just reinforcing whatever biases you have, which is the pattern that develops", he said, "at a certain point, you just live in a bubble, and that's part of why our politics is so polarized right now".
This is, he suggests, risky for democracy.
"It turns out that we come up with all kinds of reasons to try to put ourselves over other people", Obama says.
Obama made the remarks during an interview with David Letterman on his new show which began streaming on Netflix on Friday
The brutality with which the marchers were set upon by police was one of the flashpoints of the 1960s civil rights movement, creating sympathy for the cause. "The stereotype of former presidents is you're sitting around your house waiting for someone to call, lonely".
The former US president, Michelle Obama and their youngest daughter, Sasha, all made the journey with Malia, 19, to Cambridge, Massachusetts for move in-day. Both Obama and Letterman make occasional reference to the country's current fraught political climate, but neither mentions the current president directly.
"There may be delays", he says.
Letterman has mostly stayed out of the public eye since leaving television more than two-and-a-half years ago.
Former President Barack Obama opened up about taking his daughter Malia to college previous year, telling host David Letterman he was "basically useless" during the entire move-in process. "When we were kids, you had to go down to the end of the hall of the dorm (to make a call)". For instance, Letterman asked about readjusting to civilian life, and contrasted Obama's newfound hobbies with his own ("You're hang-gliding, you're climbing volcanoes, you're wind-surfing, you're wrestling sharks, you're on somebody's private island... and I'm at Bed, Bath and Beyond picking out hangers"). Upcoming guests on Letterman's show include George Clooney, Howard Stern, and Malala Yousafzai. He may also talk more Dave.