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.”
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.
UPDATE: Steve 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.