Last night, Jon Stewart managed to book one of those rare interviews — Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since Bush’s last year. The interview itself was remarkable for two reasons: first, that a comedian (“we come on right after, I believe, puppets that make crank calls”) can attract this kind of attention, and second, for its overriding focus. Those who doubt the patriotic bona fides of the liberal intelligentsia, and those who would place the blame for today’s hyper-partisan environment on our shoulders, should pay heed.
Throughout the interview, Stewart sought to underscore the point that President Obama, like President Bush, cares about the country, wants to see it protected, and that these sorts of things are not, and should not be, political. Although he wouldn’t answer some of Stewart’s essentially rhetorical questions (like: “what does Obama do differently?”), Mullen deflected the discussion towards one about the value of a professional, citizen’s army, using it to make the point that the identity of the commander in chief shouldn’t matter. We’re all Americans, we all want our country to be safe, and we shouldn’t even pretend to disagree on that. We don’t serve our men and women in uniform by questioning the President’s commitment to them.
Naturally, after the taping concluded, the audience gave Admiral Mullen a standing ovation. That’s not standard practice for Daily Show guests — but it’s a good reminder that we all support our troops, regardless of where the media tells us we should fall in the “culture war.”