The song that led in President Obama as he stepped up to the podium to deliver his final speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was Cups. Current mood: “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.”
It was all jokes and a just sentence or two of sentimentality from the president, hitting many political notes and every presidential candidate.
And how well did his jokes land? Judge for yourself below.
On our new, dystopian future:
It is an honor to be at my last, and perhaps the last White House correspondents dinner. You all look great. The end of the Republic has never looked better.
I do apologize, I know I was a little late tonight. I was running on CPT, which stands for, jokes that white people should not make.”
Oblique Hillary Clinton reference #2:
If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year, earn me some serious Tubmans.”
Stand with Hillary:
Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here at this very spot, and it’s anyone’s guess who she will be.”
Oblique Trump reference #2:
Eight years ago I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight I clearly should have been more specific.”
Eight years ago I was a young man, full of idealism and vigor. And look at me now. I am gray and grizzled, just counting down the days to my death panel.”
On attending the WHCD:
In just six short months I will be officially a lame duck. Which means Congress now will flat out reject my authority, and Republican leaders will reject my phone calls. And this is going to take some getting used to. It’s a curve ball. I don’t know what to do with it. For months now, Congressional Republicans have been saying there are things I cannot do in my final year, unfortunately this dinner was not one of them. On everything else, it’s another story.”
On questions of identity:
While in England, I did have lunch with her majesty the Queen. Took in a performance of Shakespeare, it the links with David Cameron. Just in case anybody is still debating whether I’m black enough, I think that settles the debate.”
The CNN slam:
Even reporters have left me. Savannah Guthrie, who’s left the White House press corps to host the Today Show. Norah O’Donnell left the briefing room to host CBS This Morning. Jake Tapper left journalism to go on CNN.”
And yet somehow despite all this, despite the churn, in my final year, my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide on my major.
“What has changed, nobody can figure it out,” he says as a split screen photo of Ted Cruz and Donald Trump appears on the screen.
Joe Biden vs. Dick Cheney:
I love Joe Biden, I really do. I want to thank him for his friendship, for his counsel, for always giving it to me straight, for not shooting anybody in the face.
Fact vs. Fiction:
I also would like to acknowledge some of the award-winning reporters who we have with us here tonight: Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber.
As you know Spotlight is a film, a movie, about investigative journalists, with the resources, and the autonomy to chase down the truth, and hold the powerful accountable—finest fantasy film since Star Wars.
The Fifth column:
GOP Chairman Reince Priebus is here as well. Glad to see that you feel that you’ve earned a night off. Congratulations on all your success. The Republican party, the nomination process, it’s all going great. Keep it up.
Compare and contrast with Bloomberg and Trump:
[After acknowledging former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg] Mike, a combatant, controversial New York billionaire is leading the GOP primary and it is not you. That has to sting a little bit. Although it’s not an entirely fair comparison between you and the Donald. After all, Mike was a big-city mayor, he knows policy in depth, and he’s actually worth the amount of money that he says he is.
Feel the Bern:
What an election season. For example, we have the bright new face of the democratic party here tonight, Mr. Bernie Sanders. Bernie, you look like a million bucks. Or, to put it in terms you’ll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of 27 dollars each.
I am hurt, tough, Bernie, that you’ve been distancing yourself a little from me. I mean, that’s just not something you do to your comrade.
On Hillary Clinton, oblique no more:
I’ve said how much I admire Hillary’s toughness, her smarts, her policy chops, her experience. You’ve got to admit it though, Hillary trying to appeal to young voters, it is a little bit like your relatives who just signed up for Facebook: 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.
“Yes, yes, I remember, I had lasagna”:
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, things are a little more, I’m not sure how we say this, a little more loose. Just look at the confusion over the invitations to tonight’s dinner. Guests were asked to check whether they wanted steak or fish, but 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.
John Kasich, who shall not be named:
Meanwhile, some candidates aren’t polling high enough to qualify for their own joke tonight. The rules were well established ahead of time.
“And then there’s Ted Cruz”:
Ted had a tough week. He went to Indiana. Hoosier country. Stood on a basketball court and called the hoop a basketball ring. What else is in his lexicon? Baseball sticks? Football hats? For sure, I’m the foreign one.
And just as Obama claimed he was ready to go into serious mode, and began to thank the press corps:
Nah, I’m just kidding. You know I’ve got to talk about Trump. Come on. We weren’t just going to stop there. Come on.
Although I’m a little hurt that he’s not here tonight. We had so much fun the last time. And it is surprising. You got a room full or supporters, 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’s he doing?
And there’s one areas 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.
Trump + media=
I don’t want to spend too much time on the Donald. Following your lead, I want to show some restraint. Because 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 wants to give his hotel business a boost, and now we’re all praying that Cleveland makes it through July.
With that, I just have two more words to say: Obama out.”
The president presses two fingers to his lips, and drops the mic.