Obama Correspondents’ Dinner Zingers

President Obama took his first turn at the annual event where presidents become stand-up comics and the pretense that politicians and the press are adversaries are dropped for a night.   He was terrific, as presidents almost invariably are.

WaPo’s Richard Leiby rounds up some of the zingers:

[N]o one in his administration was safe from his one-liners.

Not Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: “The minute she got back from Mexico, she pulled me into a hug and said I should go down there myself.”

Not Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel: “This is a tough holiday for Rahm. He’s not used to saying the word ‘day’ after ‘mother.’ ”

Not even, it turned out, himself: “During the second 100 days, we will design, build and open a library dedicated to my first 100 days.” And: “My next 100 days will be so successful, I will complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will rest.”

The routine brought mostly guffaws from the 2,500 journalists, politicians and celebrities jammed into the Washington Hilton ballroom for the press corps’ annual celebration of itself. The president acknowledged perceptions that he’s a media darling: “Most of you covered me; all of you voted for me. Apologies to the Fox table.”

First lady Michelle Obama also attended, wearing a sleeveless fuchsia gown and a bold necklace. Her husband gibed that she was helping to bridge divides in the nation, including “the right to bare arms.”

Self-deprecating humor always works at this things.  Obama’s jibe at Emanuel was a bit risque by presidential standards, as was the choice of Wanda Sykes as emcee.  (Fun fact: She “got her start doing stand-up while moonlighting from her day job as a procurement officer at the National Security Agency.”)  Great line here, though:

“It’s funny to me that [photographers] have never caught you smoking,” Sykes told the president, “but they always catch you with your shirt off. I know you’re into this transparency thing, but I don’t need to see your nipples.”

Indeed.

The best of these presidents-as-comics bits I recall was Bill Clinton’s routine where he was constantly interrupted with “news” about George H.W. Bush making parachute jumps and other feats of derring-do.  I can’t find a video.

UPDATESteve Benen lists some of Sykes’ less quotable bits and observes, “Rich Little, she isn’t.”  Not by a long shot.  Little could do blue but he had the good sense to know when and where.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    B. Hussein Obama is disgusting–I can’t believe that he is sitting here making jokes while he is sending troops overseas to fight two wars.

    It is typical liberal selfishness: just like LBJ, Obama plays a game as an armchair general, sending the troops into ill-conceived wars while he sits around smoking cigars and drinking mojitos.

  2. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Tri, B. Hussein must keep the troops occupied overseas as if they were stateside, they might join the effort to throw off their rogue commander.

  3. Mike P says:

    Right, Obama’s making jokes while sending troops into harms way…no, I’ve never seen a president do that sort of thing before.

  4. hcantrall says:

    Wow, tasteful, thanks for that MikeP.. also, Triumph isn’t serious. It’s always funny to see people get their panties all in a bunch over what he says though so wtg!

  5. An Interested Party says:

    It’s always funny to see people get their panties all in a bunch over what he says though so wtg!

    It’s even funnier when someone like Zelsdorf Ragshaft III takes Triumph seriously and heartily agrees with whatever parody he spews forth…

  6. Alex Knapp says:

    Tri, B. Hussein must keep the troops occupied overseas as if they were stateside, they might join the effort to throw off their rogue commander.

    Do you mean to imply that the members of the United States Armed Forces are mutinious traitors? I think an apology is in order.