In his final address to the White House correspondents dinner also known as “nerd prom”, Obama embraced his last chance at a snarky, hyperbolic, comic monologue and used the stage to unleash a series of one-liners at 2016 presidential candidates in both parties, the media and his own career as president.
“It is an honor to be here at my last, and perhaps the last, White House Correspondents’ dinner,” he said as he took the podium. “You all look great. The end of the Republic has never looked better. 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,” Obama said.
At the end, Obama literally dropped the mic at the event where politicians, journalists, media moguls, Capitol Hill power brokers, Hollywood stars and even dogs (those belonging to Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher) gathered.
Obama didn’t spare his former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, quipping, “If this material goes well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans.“
He also joked her lack of popularity with young voters: “I’ve said I admire Hillary’s toughness, her smarts, her policy chops, her experience. You’ve gotta admit it though: Hillary trying to appeal to young voters is a little bit like your relative who just signed up for Facebook,” Obama said. “‘Dear America, did you get my poke? Is it appearing on your wall? I’m not sure I’m using this right. Love, Aunt Hillary.'”
Obama then took on 74 year old Bernie Sanders from Vermont, describing him as “the bright new face of the Democratic party.” “Bernie, you look like a million bucks. Or, to put in terms you will understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each,” the outgoing jokester said, referring to a zillion small contributions to Mr Sanders’ campaign.
“I am hurt though, Bernie, that you have distanced yourself from me. That’s not something that you do to your comrade.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 1, 2016
But much of Obama’s monologue focused on the Republicans, saying “we’re praying Cleveland makes it through July,” and noted the absence of GOP front-runner Donald Trump. “You know I’m gonna talk about Trump!” Obama told the crowd.
“Although I’m a little hurt that he is not here tonight. We had so much fun the last time,” Obama said referring to the same event in 2011, during which Trump was present. “And it is surprising. You got a room full of reporters, celebrities, cameras and he says ‘no.’ Is this dinner too tacky for The Donald. What could he possibly be doing instead? Is he at home, eating a ‘Trump Steak’, tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel? What is he doing?” Obama wisecracked.
“The Republican establishment is incredulous that he’s their most likely nominee. Incredulous. Shocking. They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president,” Obama said. “But in fairness he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world: Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan.”
“And there’s one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable and that’s closing Guantanamo, because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground,” the US president jibed.
He didn’t let Ted Cruz get by unscathed, reminding the audience that last week, the GOP presidential hopeful called a basketball hoop a “ring” at a campaign stop in Indiana. “He went to Hoosier country, called the hoop a basketball ring. What else is in his lexicon? Baseball sticks? Football hats? But sure, I’m the foreign one.”
Obama didn’t mention John Kasich by name but took a jab and the GOP candidate, saying “Some candidates aren’t polling high enough to qualify for their own jokes tonight.”
Obama appeared in a pre-recorded video with former Speaker John Boehner and mocked some Republicans’ hope that current Speaker Paul Ryan would become a “white knight” nominee at the Republican convention. “Dinner 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,” Obama said. “You may not like steak or fish, but that’s your choice.”
“Glad to see you feel you’ve earned the night off,” Obama said to RNC chair Reince Priebus. “Congrats on all your success. The Republican party, the nomination process, it’s all going great. Keep it up.”
Toward the end, Obama also poked fun at himself and his age: “Eight years ago I was a young man, full of idealism and vigor. And look at me know,” he said laughing. “Hillary once questioned whether I’d be ready for a 3 a.m. phone call. Now I’m awake anyway because I gotta go to the bathroom.”
And he threw in a few jabs at the media, saying “Jake Tapper left journalism to join CNN,” but ended on a serious note urging responsible reporting and chiding over-coverage of Trump.
“Uncovering truths is more important than ever. Taking a stand on behalf of what is true does not require you shedding your objectivity. In fact, it is the essence of good journalism,” he said.
Obama ended his final White House Correspondents’ dinner by pulling a Kobe Bryant, dropping the mic and saying “Obama out” before walking away from the podium.
The first gif president. pic.twitter.com/MCZqSge7BG
— Amy Argetsinger (@AmyArgetsinger) May 1, 2016
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