White House Correspondents Dinner: Who's the politician and who's the celebrity?
Functionally, you can't tell the difference. And that says more about the state of journalism and American culture than anything else you can come up with.
And what makes the confluence of politics and celebrity so seamless, is that none of the participants in this self-congratulatory journalistic exercise realize that there is no difference. They are oblivious to both the irony and the danger that this marriage of star power and PR pimping represents.
That said, the White House Correspondents Dinner always features a comedian and self deprecating remarks by the president. Conan O'Brien took shots at everybody, but saved his most vicious barbs for the GOP. And Obama?
"I look in the mirror and say 'I'm not the strapping young Muslim socialist I used to be,'" Obama said. "Time passes, you get a little gray. And yet, I still make rookie mistakes."
As an example, he pointed to recent remarks at a fundraiser where he said California Attorney General Kamala Harris was the best looking attorney general in the country. "I got in trouble when I got back home. Who knew Eric Holder was so sensitive?"
Speaking to a crowd of approximately 2,700 news personalities, celebrities and politicians, Obama targeted some of his humor at the White House press corps, saying "CNN taken some knocks" for its coverage in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. Obama said he appreciated the cable network's desire to cover all sides of a story, "just in case one of them happens to be accurate." The network and others in the news media were criticized after prematurely reporting that Boston police had arrested a suspect in the bombings.
He also said some of his advisers have moved to the "dark side," noting that David Axelrod, his former senior adviser, now works for MSNBC, "which is a nice change of pace because MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod."
And how presidential is this?
Online news sources also got a shout out, with Obama saying "media is changing." "I remember when Buzzfeed was just something I did in college around 2 a.m.," Obama said. "It's true."
We have the perfect man to preside over this age of broken promises, broken dreams, and broken politics. Washington tries to make us forget their failures by dangling celebrities in front of us, while feting themselves to a blowout party where every partygoer received a 20 pound "swag bag." The president plays the clown while skirting close to the truth in his humor.
This is one Washington tradition that should be shelved.