Going back as far as 1920 the White House Correspondents’ Association (an organization of journalists who cover the White House and the President of the United States) has held the The White House Correspondence Dinner. The purpose of the dinner is to recognize aspiring and accomplished journalists and to raise scholarship money aimed at supporting aspiring journalists. It is traditionally attended by the President, the First Lady, the Vice President as well as many other senior government officials and members of the press corps.
Prior to 1945, the annual dinner featured singing between courses, a homemade movie and an hour-long, post-dinner show with big-name performers; however, since then the featured speaker is usually a comedian, with the dinner taking on the form of a Presidential roast. Today, the dinner generally includes a skit, either live or videotaped, by the sitting President in which he mocks himself, for the amusement of the press corps.
In the last couple decades, the dinners have attracted more and more “Hollywood” celebrities. The attention given to the guest list and entertainers is increasingly overshadowing the intended purpose of the dinner. This year, Kim Kardashian, George Clooney, Kris Jenner, Sofia Vergara, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Steven Spielberg, Holly Robinson Peete, Al Sharpton, Tom Joyner, Johnny Galecki, Ann Curry, Claire Danes, Judd Apatow, Leslie Mann, Kevin Spacey, Elizabeth Banks, Tim Daly, Lindsay Lohan, Kate Hudson, Kerry Washington, Rashida Jones, Zooey Deschanel, Charlize Theron, Fred Armisen, Carrie Brownstein, Julie Bowen, Eva Longoria, Viola Davis, Goldie Hawn, Piers Morgan, Diane Keaton, Ivanka Trump, Sigourney Weaver and Reese Witherspoon to name a few attended the dinner.
Jimmy Kimmel was chosen as this year’s comedian to roast the President, and, well, everyone in the room.
And in true form, the Host of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, roasted everyone in the room. From Democrats to Republicans, from Fox News to MSNBC, from Keith Olbermann to Rush Limbaugh, and so on. Nobody was safe… most notably, President Obama was not safe.
One could tell this was going to be an especially bumpy ride for Obama when Kimmel was introduced and started making his way to the podium and Obama stood up to shake Kimmel’s hand and Kimmel barely acknowledged the President. In fact, he made no eye contact and kept on going past Obama. At the end of this awkward non-exchange, Obama stands there alone staring at Kimmel walking right on by.
But Kimmel eventually did make long eye contact with the President when he looked at Obama and said, “Mr. President, remember when the country rallied around you in the hope for a better tomorrow… that was hilarious…. that was your best one yet.”
Other standout zingers include:
“You know, there is a term for guys like [Obama]… not two terms.”
“I wish [Biden] was here so he could sit behind me and fake clap like he does at the State of the Union address.”
“MSNBC moved to the left of Hugo Chavez.”
“It doesn’t matter if you’re black like President Obama, or white like President Obama, or red like President Obama’s agenda…”
And then it took a weird turn when Kimmel started discussing dogs. The first was a reference to Romney putting his dog in a crate and on top of the car when the family went on a vacation nearly 30 years ago. This was an exploited issue by Democrats and the media up until the point it was discovered that Obama had actually eaten dog as a child… and now the treatment (or mistreatment as it were) of canines aren’t exploitable politically as much as they are exploitable for humor.
“You can’t even play Monopoly with [Romney], because he keeps putting the dog on the car.”
“When [Obama] goes to a dog park, is this the same as when we look at a tank full of lobsters?”
But what got even more weird is when the President himself started joking about eating dog. But to put this in context, here is Obama’s own account of the incident in his own words:
It had taken me less than six months to learn Indonesia’s language, its customs, and its legends. I had survived chicken pox, measles and the sting of my teachers’ bamboo switches. The children of farmers, servants and low-level bureaucrats had become my best friends, and together we ran the streets morning and night, hustling odd jobs, catching crickets, battling swift kites with razor-sharp lines — the loser watched his kite soar off with the wind, and knew that somewhere other children had formed a long, wobbly train, their heads toward the sky, waiting for their prize to land. With Lolo, I learned how to eat small green chili peppers raw with dinner (plenty of rice), and, away from the dinner table, I was introduced to dog meat (tough), snake meat (tougher), and roasted grasshopper (crunchy). Like many Indonesians, Lolo followed a brand of Islam that could make room for the more ancient animist and Hindu faiths. He explained that a man took on the powers of whatever he ate: One day soon, he promised, he would bring home a piece of tiger meat for us to share. That’s how things were, one long adventure, the bounty of a young boy’s life.
It’s one thing to write about his exotic experiences growing up all over the world, it’s another to be critical of Mitt Romney for his treatment of dogs, but it is quite another to joke about eating man’s best friend. And that is exactly what Obama did at the White House Correspondence Dinner.
“What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?” Obama asked, recalling a 2008 campaign joke told by then-vice presidential nominee Sarah Pain. “A pit bull is delicious.”
I guess this means that we won’t be hearing about Romney’s dog anymore. Or as The Daily Caller put it, “That man-crates-dog portrayal… has been trumped by the man-eats-dog confession.”