On Saturday night, President Barack Obama attended an exclusive event at the annual Gridiron Club dinner, a tradition of lightheartedness and “good fellowship” since 1885. While he was there, he cracked jokes about just about everything and at just about everyone’s expense — from John Boehner to Scott Walker and Joe Biden to Terry McAuliffe.
Obama attended the event with roughly 650 people, including journalists, politicians, military officials and Washington insiders, and there were no cameras. This was the president’s third time attending the dinner as president and fourth time overall, so of course, he had to make a joke about his age.
“Now, let’s face it, being President does age you. I mean, look at me. I was hoping Fred Thompson would be the Republican speaker so I could buy a reverse mortgage. You start getting crankier as you get older. Next week, I’m signing an executive order to get off my lawn.”
There was much laughter and applause during his routine, but as Obama pointed out, that wasn’t necessarily because he was getting any funnier.
“This is my third appearance at this dinner as President,” he explained. “And I predict you will laugh harder than ever. I’m not saying I’m any funnier. I’m saying weed is now legal in D.C.”
After he was finished taking jabs at himself, he moved on to possible presidential candidate Scott Walker while referencing one of the most common myths about himself.
“Despite a great performance tonight, Scott has had a few recent stumbles. The other week he said he didn’t know whether or not I was a Christian. And I was taken aback, but fortunately my faith teaches us forgiveness. So, Governor Walker, as-salamu alaykum. Scott also recently punted on a question of evolution, which I do think is a problem. I absolutely believe in the theory of evolution — when it comes to gay marriage.”
He even mentioned the recent scandals involving NBC’s Brian William’s and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who have both recently come under fire for their rather embellished stories of past experiences.
“The fact is, I really genuinely like John Boehner. But from your press reports, I gather he may be in real trouble. Over the past several weeks, many of you have been writing about a possible conservative coup — or as Bill O’Reilly calls it, “reporting from the war zone.” He’s been sniffing around. The good news is, Bill has an eyewitness who can back up some of his claims. The bad news, of course, is that it’s Brian Williams.”
One of his harsher jabs went after the controversy surrounding his appearance in a BuzzFeed video and the 47 Senate Republicans who recently wrote a letter to Iran’s leaders regarding Obama’s nuclear negotiations.
“And then I got flak for appearing on a video for BuzzFeed, trying to reach younger voters. What nonsense. You know, you don’t diminish your office by taking a selfie. You do it by sending a poorly written letter to Iran. Really, that wasn’t a joke.”
As humorous as his delivery may have been, the subject has been a sore one for Obama’s White House, and for many Americans as well — as of Sunday night, nearly 300,000 people signed a White House petition to charge the senators for violating the Logan Act.
Like he has done many times before, Obama finished on a more serious, but positive, note.
“So while the world of media may be changing, I am confident that our democracy will always be able to rely on the tradition represented by the reporters in this room: your persistence, your dedication, and your lifelong commitment to helping all of us better understand this world,” he said. “That’s how our democracy works. And we are very grateful for the job that you do.”
The president wasn’t the only person to have a routine during the dinner. Terry McAuliffe and Scott Walker also spoke, poking fun at themselves and other high-profile targets as well.
President Obama is known for cutting loose during more casual events like the Gridiron Club dinner and White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Though this event is over now and it will likely mean a return to politics as usual, it’s nice to see a less serious environment every once in a while.
[Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images]