John Oliver, a correspondent for the Daily Show with Jon Stewart, tackled issues of international policy, but made time for light-hearted humor speckled with four-letter words, at an event Sunday night in the Jack Morton Auditorium.
Oliver and Daniel Franklin, an editor of The World in 2010, an annual issue of The Economist, spoke as part of a two-day-long conference meant to promote the issue of the magazine.
Oliver kicked off the event with some stand-up comedy, poking fun at the way the world views Americans.
“The heroes who have meant the most to me over the past three and a half years have been you, the American people,” Oliver said, drawing hefty laughter from the crowd.
He added, “You’re all heroes, because American people are fucking idiots. The world needs idiots, idiots get things done.”
After his stand-up routine, Oliver sat down with Franklin and Dan Senor, a managing director of Rosemont Solebury Capital Management, to discuss major policy issues facing the U.S. including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, health care legislation, and the worldwide economic crisis.
Speakers warned that in the next decade, economic recovery in the Western world would be slow, the Obama administration would face enormous challenges in foreign policy, and the future of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would remain uncertain.
“When you strip away the rhetoric and listen to what he says, he’s giving McChrystal 18 months and all the resources he needs,” said Senor, referring to Obama and the top commander in Afghanistan. Senor served as the chief spokesperson of the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Iraq in 2003 for the Bush administration. “I think the summer of 2010 in Afghanistan will be worse than 2009.”
Other themes touched upon in the evening included the fate of the initiative endorsed by the Obama and Democrats to overhaul the nation’s healthcare system.
“I think there will be a bill of some sort, whether people are satisfied by that will be resolved in the midterm elections,” Franklin said.
The panelists also discussed the economic crisis, and used China as an example of a country whose economy that has remained somewhat strong in the wake of a crisis in Western economies.
“I think everyone should know that China keeps growing,” Franklin said. “The development there is astonishing, where everywhere else is struggling.”
Despite the serious nature of the economic talk, Oliver lightened the mood with some self-deprecating humor of his knowledge of the economy.
“To me the economy is like the Dutch language,” Oliver said. “I’m told it makes sense, but I have my doubts.”
In an interview after the event, Franklin addressed issues that pertain to college-aged students including those who are graduating this year.
“Frankly, I think it will be a tough year for anyone graduating,” Franklin said. “There will be some sort of recovery, but its going to be a rather weak one, there are sectors I know that are going to be dynamic and some industries where you might be in trouble. You have to be quite persistent and smart to find the opportunities.”
Franklin said it will be harder to get an entry-level job in the financial sector, but a viable alternative would be entry-level jobs working in the public sector, such as the government.
The World in 2010 Festival will be Sunday and Monday in the School of Media and Public Affairs’ Jack Morton Auditorium. Other speakers include familiar faces like D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee and famed chef José Andrés.