And here's why it works. The topic of Letterman's termination was once again broached after Dave introduced Obama.
When it came to his current family life, Obama described the sadness of sending daughter Malia off to college, "sobbing" and "misting" for weeks leading up to it and being of no use as the rest of the family helped her move in to her dorm.
Letterman's level of engagement with his guests became a variable thing in his later years, when his attention could drift after the monologue.
Obama shook his head. 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.
"We were at a function at the White House, and I had never met either of your daughters before".More news: Donald Trump's enmity for Haiti
He talks in general terms, about ongoing American challenges like inequality and the costs of health care and education. "I think it is a solvable problem but it's one we have to spend a lot of time thinking about". "If you watch Fox News, you are living on a different planet than you are if you listen to NPR", Obama continued. He mentioned how people are digging into their own biases, seeking out sources of information that reinforce the beliefs they already hold.
This is, he suggests, unsafe for democracy.
Obama gives the briefest of overviews of the economic crash era of his presidency and discusses social media's nefarious role in the recent USA election (classic "we live in a bubble" stuff) before rocketing on to fatherhood and his foundation. Letterman takes a side trip to Selma, Ala. with the Atlanta congressman and civil rights legend to walk the Edmund Pettus Bridge where he was beaten in 1965.
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.
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction is at its best during what I assume is going to be a recurring video segment.More news: MSNBC's Chris Matthews Joked About Drugging Hillary Clinton
Letterman and Obama talk about the significance of that march, and the legacy Lewis has built. Recorded in the fall and aired December 27, the former president said that leaders shouldn't use social media to stoke division.
Lewis has repeatedly spoken out against the president, once declaring he is "not legitimate" shortly before Trump was inaugurated. "But we will get there".
After that, it's a pretty straightforward exchange between two guys who, as Letterman quips, "both recently left long-term jobs".
He doesn't have to mention Trump by name for the stylistic contrast to be clear. However, critics were not exactly welcoming Letterman back with open arms. The jokes were fewer and further between, and Letterman doesn't egg Obama for a sound bite or anecdote at any particular moment. The host could seem tuned out in the later Late Show years, but time off has left him with space to reckon over his own life and legacy.
Rep. John Lewis thanks anti-gun violence supporters following a rally with fellow Democrats on the East Front steps of the U.S. House of Representatives, Oct. 4, 2017, in Washington, DC.More news: Boston Scientific (BSX) Getting Somewhat Positive Press Coverage, Report Shows