President Barack Obama sat down with Jon Stewart as a guest for “The Daily Show” on Thursday night which drew criticism when the President referred to the deaths in Benghazi as “not optimal.”
Stewart asked Obama whether he agreed that it was not “optimal” how the government operated after the attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans. Here’s their exchange:
Jon Stewart: “Is part of the investigation helping the communication between these divisions? Not just what happened in Benghazi, but what happened within. Because I would say, even you would admit, it was not the optimal response, at least to the American people, as far as all of us being on the same page."
President Barack Obama: "Here’s what I’ll say. If four Americans get killed, it’s not optimal. We’re going to fix it. All of it. And what happens, during the course of a presidency, is that the government is a big operation and any given time something screws up. And you make sure that you find out what’s broken and you fix it. Whatever else I have done throughout the course of my presidency the one thing that I’ve been absolutely clear about is that America’s security comes, and the American people need to know exactly how I make decisions when it comes to war, peace, security, and protecting Americans. And they will continue to get that over the next four years of my presidency."
After the interview, critics immediately zeroed in on Obama’s use of the phrase “not optimal” in reference to the four deaths. Many, like the the Drudge Report which put the story on its front page for Friday, said the President was slighting the attack on U.S. ground in Benghazi, which took the lives of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, diplomat Sean Smith and security men and former U.S. Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods on the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11.
However, left wingers on Twitter asaid Obama was merely reiterating Stewart’s usage of the word “optimal” in his answer. Still, conservatives like Breitbart columnist Ben Shapiro believe the president’s words were “disgusting.”
“The left is already saying that the ‘not optimal’ quote has been taken out of context; they were saying that Stewart used the word ‘optimal’ first,” Shapiro wrote. “The problem: it’s far worse in context. Stewart said that the White House response was ‘not the optimal response.’ Obama responded not by tackling the White House response, but by calling the murders ‘not optimal.’”
Aside from the “optimal” comment, Obama also spoke about his self-admitted weak performance during the first debate, why voters should choose him and cracked a few jokes about Vice President Joe Biden during his sixth appearance on “The Daily Show.”
“Look, I think obviously I had an off night,” Obama said of the first debate, “The presentation wasn’t the way it needed to be, but the issues haven’t changed.”
Obama also touched on an inside joke in the White House about Biden wearing swim trunks to meetings prompted by Stewart, perhaps referencing the the Onion’s portrayal of Biden washing a 1981 Trans Am shirtless.
"How many times a week does Biden show up in a wet bathing suit to a meeting?" Stewart asked.
"I had to put out a presidential directive on that. We had to stop that," Obama said. "I gotta say, though, he looks pretty good."
Jokes aside, the president also highlighted the importance of this election and made a last ditch appeal to voters.
“The stakes on this could not be bigger,” he said. “War. Peace. Supreme Court. Women’s right to choose. Whether we’re creating jobs in this country, or whether they’re being shipped overseas. Whether our kids are getting the best education they can. All that stuff is at stake and there is no excuse not to vote. And I hope you vote for me.”