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Traditionally, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner involves good-natured jabs aimed at the president. But this year, the focus of the humor was aimed not so much at President Barack Obama, but rather at the Republicans who would like to have his job.
From the ballroom podium at the Washington Hilton on Saturday evening, Obama delivered the event’s traditional “State of the Union Address of Jokes,” with lots to say about the 2016 declared or about-to-declare Republican presidential hopefuls.
“Let’s face it, there is one issue on every reporter’s mind, and that’s 2016,” Obama told the crowd.
“Already we’ve seen some missteps,” Obama said of the campaign for the 2016 election. The president joked of news that Jeb Bush had mistakenly marked “Hispanic” on a form. “Look, it’s an honest mistake — reminds me of when I identified myself as American back in 1961.”
“Rick Santorum announced that he would not attend a gay or lesbian wedding of one of his friends or a loved ones, to which gays and lesbian people across the country responded, ‘That’s not going to be a problem,’ ” Obama said. “Don’t sweat that one.”
“And Donald Trump is here,” Obama said before pausing. “Still.”
Taking aim at the Koch brothers, Obama said that he could not wait to see who the brothers decide to support for president. “It’s exciting,” Obama said. “Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker. Who will finally get that red rose? The winner gets a billion dollar war chest. The runner-up gets to be the bachelor on another season of The Bachelor.“
“But seriously, a billion dollars from just two guys. Is it just me, or does that feel a little excessive? It’s almost insulting to the candidates. The Koch brothers think they need to spend a billion dollars to get folks to like one of these people. It’s going to hurt their feelings a little bit. And, look, I know I’ve raised a lot of money too, but in all fairness, my middle name is Hussein.”
After Obama, comedian and host Cecily Strong, of Saturday Night Live, took more shots at the GOP candidates. “So many people have already announced they’re running for president,” she said. “It’s like, who should I even vote for — Hillary [Clinton] — there’s Marco Rubio. Who’s better than Marco Rubio — Hillary. And there’s Rand Paul. Who is more knowledgeable about foreign policy than Rand Paul — Hillary. And of course there’s Hillary. Who is better on the economy than Hillary? Bill [Clinton].”
“I’m excited about Hillary running. I’m not sure she’s excited about having to run. I think she feels the same way Meryl Streep feels when she’s asked to audition for something. ‘Are you kidding me? You know I’m going to win.’ ”
Then she asked the reporters in the room to “put your hands up and swear something this election season.”
“I solemnly swear not to talk about Hillary’s appearance because that is not journalism,” she said, prompting laughter.
“Now, I don’t want you to take this as an endorsement for Hillary Clinton because I would never blindly endorse a candidate that I don’t play on SNL,” she joked. “But Hillary Clinton has her work cut out for her. Her Democratic challengers are a who’s-who of ‘who’s that?’ ”
“A lot of people want Elizabeth Warren to run for president, but a lot of people think she’s too idealistic and her policies are too liberal,” Strong said. “But look at President Obama. People thought the same thing about him, and he didn’t end up doing any of that stuff.”
The Republican field, meanwhile, is “ideologically diverse including people like Ted Cruz who is a Tea Partier. And Rand Paul who is a Libertarian. And even people like Chris Christie, who is a Democrat. Jeb Bush is probably in the race. The presidential race, not the Hispanic race. That was just an accident. In fact, Jeb is an acronym for John Ellis Bush. I guess he thought that sounded too elitist so he way overcompensated. It’s kind of like if Benedict Cumberbatch decided to go by Scooter.
“Marco Rubio is running for president. When Jeb Bush found out he said, ‘Ay dios mio!’” As for Cruz, “it’s like the right wing thought, ‘What is the exact opposite of a black president. How about a Canadian Latino who will never be president.”
And Rand Paul? “He’s announced he’s taking over the family’s not-being-president business,” Strong joked. “I guess that is Rand as in, ‘He didn’t get elected but at least he Rand.’ And Paul is a Libertarian. If you’re not familiar, a Libertarian is a just a Republican that you have to block on Twitter.
“Enough talk about 2016,” Strong said. “Let’s talk about the most important person in the room. My leader, the person I’m so glad is in the White House — Michelle Obama. Michelle, you take care of that garden while you can because in 18 months you know Bill’s turning that thing into an aboveground pool.”
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