President Barack Obama got his chance to exact revenge on the reporters who skewer him on a daily basis when the White House Correspondents Association held its annual dinner Saturday night in Washington. Obama went after Republicans, the news media and the likely 2016 presidential candidates with equal vigor.
As usual, there was some self-deprecating humor in Obama’s remarks, as he made light of his sinking poll numbers, which recently hit a new low with just 42 percent of respondents in the ABC News/Washington Post poll saying they approved of his job performance.
“I did notice the other day that Sasha needed a speaker at career day and she invited Bill Clinton,” Obama joked about the poll numbers. “I was a little hurt by that.”
The president didn’t shy away from the subject of race, poking fun at Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who was widely attacked for his comments that perhaps Blacks were better off during slavery.
Obama led into his Bundy comments by noting the skill of the snowboarders during the 2014 Olympics in Russia.
“I haven’t seen anyone pull off a 180 that fast since [Kentucky Sen.] Rand Paul disinvited that Nevada rancher from this dinner,” Obama said, as the crowd roared.
“As a general rule, things don’t end well when the sentence starts, ‘Let me tell you a little something I know about the Negro,'” the president said. “You don’t really need to hear the rest of it. Just a tip for you. Don’t start your sentence that way.
Obama went after the news media, hitting Fox News particularly hard.
“The Koch brothers bought a table here tonight, but as usual they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front. Hello, Fox News!” he said, adding, “Let’s face it, Fox. You’ll miss me when I’m gone. It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary [Clinton] was born in Kenya.”
As for possible presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose candidacy suffered a big hit with the scandal over the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge, Obama said, “Washington seems more dysfunctional than ever,” Obama said. “Gridlock has gotten so bad in this town you have to wonder: What’d we do to piss off Chris Christie so bad?”
The president made light of MSNBC’s sagging viewer numbers by noting that MSNBC was in the house, but added, “I think they’re a little overwhelmed. They’ve never seen an audience this big before.”
As he does every year, Obama went after House Speaker John Boehner’s infamous tan: “These days, the House Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time than they give me. Which means orange really is the new black.”
The president didn’t avoid the flubbed introduction of the Obamacare website. He said he replaced his 2008 campaign slogan “Yes We Can” with “control-alt-delete.” He joked that Hollywood had made a movie out of the Obamacare launch, then he flashed a photo of Disney’s movie, “Frozen.”
The president got serious when he talked about the strides made by Black reporters, describing the moment when Harry McAlpin, the first Black reporter to cover the White House, was granted press credentials by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944. The White House Correspondents Association kept McAlpin out of the organization — but they tried to correct that racist decision this year by honoring McAlpin’s memory with posthumous membership and a scholarship.