With the way President Barack Obama delivered his jokes at Saturday nights annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, one would think the Commander-In-Chief was auditioning to be David Letterman’s replacement on The Late Show. President Obama held center stage and laughed it up with his captive audience as he hurled some funny and some not-so-funny jokes to a group of Washington’s most powerful players.
The annual White House correspondents’ dinner has become the kind of black-tie event where journalists, politicians and celebrities gather to break bread and poke fun at one another, in this case getting to laugh it up with Obama and the political establishment. The presidential punch lines were flying from the podium as Obama took particular jabs and Republicans, who didn’t so much as crack a smile as the rest of the room roared in laughter at their expense. The President even extended the zingers in his own direction. He poked fun at himself and his complicated and embarrassing roll-out of healthcare.gov. His comments were also directed at his many political foes and the news media who at times have been accused of using their constitutional freedom of the press to quote and sometimes misquote the President.
The dinner with is put together by the White House Correspondents’ Association which is composed of members of the White House press corps. The White House Correspondents’ Association,celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, holds the annual dinner as a fundraising event to benefit gifted and aspiring journalists with college scholarships. Along with a night of good humor, the event also takes a moment to honor a handful of journalists who have made significant contributions to the field of journalism and outstanding coverage of news stories with national significance.
Proving he was a hard act to follow, President Barack Obama turned the microphone over to comedian and actor Joel McHale, who carried the remainder of the night as the event’s Host. McHale did what he could to pick up in laughs where the President left off with his own zingers and jokes on subjects like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Vice President Joe Biden and house minority leader Nancy Pelosi. With so many Hollywood celebrities in the room, McHale made sure to throw some insult-infused jokes in their direction. Those on the receiving end of the venomous verbiage were the Kardashians and Robert De Niro.
The event is Washington’s must-have ticket, which proves that at least for one night, politicians from both sides of the aisle can gather in a social setting and not feel the need to look the other way. Since the Correspondents’ Dinner is a night for journalists, members of the invited media in attendance get a chance to put down the reporter note pads and microphones to enjoy the night and laugh it up, getting an intimate view of Barack Obama and his staff in a light-hearted, comical and often self-deprecating setting. Regardless of the reversal of roles, the reporters in the room were almost certainly at least mentally capturing all the antics to report on the next day.
Opinion by Hal Banfield