President Barack Obama wrapped up his last appearance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner as commander-in-chief with a mic-drop, and a smooth “Obama out.”
Known as the “nerd prom,” Saturday night saw Larry Wilmore headline as the Washington elite and beltway press apparatus congregated to celebrate journalism and coverage of the White House.
The highlight of the night was the President’s clever, trenchant and often laugh-out-loud funny 30-minute comedy routine, the eighth and last of his presidency. Obama and his team didn’t hold back or pull any punches.
In a well-produced skit that featured former House Speaker John Boehner, we heard profanity from the President as he responded to an imagined video of NBC’s Chuck Todd calling him a “Couch Commander;” “F**k you Chuck Todd,” exclaimed the President.
He even experimented with marijuana humor when commenting on his rising approval ratings: “The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide on my major.”
Obama wondered aloud about his improved numbers, “I haven’t really done anything differently. So it’s odd. What has changed, nobody can figure it out.” Then he immediately moved into campaign territory with a slide of Donald Trump and Ted Cruz shown to the attendees as the answer to his query.
A shoutout to Bernie Sanders, in attendance with his wife, garnered cheers and laughs, as the President joked about the Vermont Senator distancing himself from the administration, “I mean, that’s just not something you do to your comrade,” the President quipped.
He also mused over Hillary Clinton’s difficulties reaching young voters, likening her social media approach to that of an older family member who just signed up to Facebook.
Other attendees that fell in Obama’s crossfire included GOP chairman Reince Priebus, Michael Bloomberg and John Kasich, who didn’t “qualify for [his] own joke tonight,” because “the rules were well-established ahead of time.”
The most scathing witticism of the night came, of course, at the expense of Donald Trump. The Trump section was relatively lengthy and one could make out a certain intensity across the President’s face as he ripped into the Republican front-runner and the press corps that fueled his rise.
“I think we can all agree that from the start, he’s gotten the appropriate amount of coverage, befitting the seriousness of his candidacy. I hope you all are proud of yourselves. The guy wanted to give his hotel business a boost, and now we’re praying that Cleveland makes it through July.”
The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is a deeply entertaining exercise in free press and expression, one unique to our nation. While the event spans just one evening, the White House Correspondents’ Association works tirelessly to keep the country’s highest office accountable to the people from which it derives its power and prestige.
A few notable jokes from the evening:
“You all look great. The end of the Republic has never looked better.”
“If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some Tubmans.”
“Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot, and it’s anyone’s guess who she will be.”
“Norah O’Donnell left the briefing room to host 'CBS This Morning.' Jake Tapper left journalism to join CNN.”
“Guests were asked to check whether they wanted steak or fish, but instead, a whole bunch of you wrote in Paul Ryan. That’s not an option, people. Steak or fish. You may not like steak or fish -- but that’s your choice.”