During a visit to "Ellen" on Thursday,
"It's not something I want to spend a lot of time doing," a sober-faced president replied when syndicated TV host
But most of the talk during a nearly one-hour visit on a Warner Bros. sound stage in Burbank with a live studio audience was devoted to matters weightier than manscaping. The episode was scheduled to air Friday in most TV markets.
DeGeneres wondered what Obama, as a lame duck with just 11 months left in office, might do after leaving the Oval Office in January. A seat on the Supreme Court, perhaps?
The Harvard Law School grad shook his head emphatically: "We're not gonna do that," Obama said, using the royal form of "we."
"One thing Michelle and I are pretty good at is engaging young people," he continued, referring to the first lady. He cited My Brother's Keeper, an initiative Obama founded to help young men of color achieve their potential.
"We want to train the next generation," he said. When DeGeneres said later that the president could also work as her co-host, Obama asked whether dancing would be a job requirement. DeGeneres said yes.
This was Obama's first in-studio visit with DeGeneres since winning the White House. He was a guest in October 2007, at that time an Illinois senator just starting his presidential run. He also did three satellite interviews for "Ellen" since his 2008 campaign.
So how does he feel after seven years in the White House? To the host's question, Obama deadpanned: "Older."
His visit nine years ago was accompanied by a few dance moves with the host, who has made shimmying through the aisles part of the show. But this time, tellingly, Obama left the dancing behind.
"I was watching some of the dance moves backstage," Obama said Thursday, alluding to the pre-show entertainment that featured members of the studio audience grooving to a DJ. "You guys were doing pretty good.... They set the bar too high" for the president to join in, he added.
DeGeneres asked about the current primary season and whether Obama yearned for the rough-and-tumble of campaigning.
"I don't miss it," he said. "Look, running for president is hard. You're under an incredible amount of scrutiny." For that reason, he added, he tends to be forgiving of the candidates' foibles and gaffes on the campaign trail.
He decried an "Instagram culture" where "we expect quick answers without sacrifice" and a political culture that "demonizes" the other side. (Actually, the president's complaints seemed more likely to apply to Facebook and Twitter than Instagram, but he may have meant social media in general.)
As in the past, Thursday's visit by the president led to traffic snarls that resigned Angelenos now dub "Obamageddon" and "Obamajam." By 6 p.m., with Marine One and its helicopter convoy bearing the president away from Burbank for Democratic fundraisers in Los Angeles, freeways were a clogged mess and Uber drivers were charging nearly twice as much as usual for fares.
With characteristic dryness, DeGeneres noted the inconvenience for locals. Some critics asked, she said, whether her show should be able to shut down the city so the president can get to her studio.
"To those people, I say: Yes, we can," DeGeneres joked.