The president walked off stage just before he took the podium with an alleged "hot mic," making fun of getting caught last month on an open microphone with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
"What am I doing here," he asks off stage. "I'm opening for Jimmy Kimmel and telling knock-knock jokes to Kim Kardashian."
Once on stage, the president revisited last year's dinner.
"Last year at this time, this very weekend, we finally delivered justice to one of the world's most notorious individuals," Obama said, a seeming reference to the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden.
Instead, a picture of Trump appeared on the room's television monitors. Obama last year delivered a scathing roast of Donald Trump, the real estate mogul who flirted with running for the Republican nomination and claimed he has solved the "mystery" of Obama's birth certificate.
He took a shot at the Republican congressional leadership, whom he thanked "for taking time from their exhausting schedule of not passing any laws" to attend the dinner.
Four years ago, he recalled, he was locked in a tough primary fight with Hillary Clinton, now his secretary of state. "She can't stop drunk texting me from Cartagena," he said, referring to their recent trip to the Summit of the Americas in Columbia.
This year, Obama is the incumbent, but the dinner was far from a campaign-free zone. The president pointed out his similarities with the presumed nominee, Mitt Romney.
"We both think of our wives as our better halves, and the American people agree to an insulting extent," the president said.
"We both have degrees from Harvard. I have one, he has two. What a snob."
The crack drew a thumbs up from former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who dropped out of the presidential primary campaign earlier this month. Santorum had called Obama a snob for encouraging young Americans to attend college.
But Obama touched on serious themes as well, remembering The New York Times' Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times of London who died while covering the uprising in Syria.
"Never forget that our country depends on you to help protect our freedom, our democracy and our way of life," Obama said.
Then he returned to the lighter side: "I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew."
I think to have Obama acknowledge that desire, what Peele referred to as “a guiltily orgasmic moment” of watching someone speaking for the president express fierce, funny, frothing impatience with the more insane of his critics, is powerful.
I think it was just a fuck-up. That's what Michelle Obama's face said in 100pt font.
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