Barack Obama cracked wise in front of an audience of journalists at the Gridiron Dinner in Washington, DC last evening. Here are some highlight’s from the U.S. president’s speech, which was made available by the White House after the event:
“Before I begin, I know some of you have noticed that I’m dressed a little differently from the other gentlemen. Because of sequester, they cut my tails. My joke writers have been placed on furlough.”
On replacing Hillary Clinton:
“Let’s face it — Hillary is a tough act to follow. But John Kerry is doing great so far. He is doing everything he can to ensure continuity. Frankly, though, I think it’s time for him to stop showing up at work in pantsuits. It’s a disturbing image. It really is. I don’t know where he buys them. He is a tall guy.”
“We noticed that some folks couldn’t make it this evening. It’s been noted that Bob Woodward sends his regrets, which Gene Sperling predicted. I have to admit this whole brouhaha had me a little surprised. Who knew Gene could be so intimidating? Or let me phrase it differently — who knew anybody named Gene could be this intimidating? Now I know that some folks think we responded to Woodward too aggressively. But hey, when has — can anybody tell me when an administration has ever regretted picking a fight with Bob Woodward? What’s the worst that could happen?”
On control of the press corp:
“Now, since I don’t often speak to a room full of journalists — I thought I should address a few concerns tonight. Some of you have said that I’m ignoring the Washington press corps — that we’re too controlling. You know what, you were right. I was wrong and I want to apologize in a video you can watch exclusively at whitehouse.gov. “
“Now I’m sure that you’ve noticed that there’s somebody very special in my life who is missing tonight, somebody who has always got my back, stands with me no matter what and gives me hope no matter how dark things seem. So tonight, I want to publicly thank my rock, my foundation — thank you, Nate Silver. “
“We face major challenges. March in particular is going to be full of tough decisions. But I want to assure you, I have my top advisors working around the clock. After all, my March Madness bracket isn’t going to fill itself out. And don’t worry — there is an entire team in the situation room as we speak, planning my next golf outing, right now at this moment.”
On the difference between Star Trek and Star Wars:
“Spock is what Maureen Dowd calls me. Darth Vader is what John Boehner calls me.”
“Of course, maintaining credibility in this cynical atmosphere is harder than ever — incredibly challenging. My administration recently put out a photo of me skeet shooting and even that wasn’t enough for some people. Next week, we’re releasing a photo of me clinging to religion.”
On journalism in tough times:
“I know that there are people who get frustrated with the way journalism is practiced these days. And sometimes those people are me. But the truth is our country needs you and our democracy needs you.
“In an age when all it takes to attract attention is a Twitter handle and some followers, it’s easier than ever to get it wrong. But it’s more important than ever to get it right. And I am grateful for all the journalists who do one of the toughest jobs there is with integrity and insight and dedication — and a sense of purpose — that goes beyond a business model or a news cycle.
“This year alone, reporters have exposed corruption here at home and around the world. They’ve risked everything to bring us stories from places like Syria and Kenya, stories that need to be told. And they’ve helped people understand the ways in which we’re all connected — how something that happens or doesn’t happen halfway around the world or here in Washington can have consequences for American families.
“These are extraordinary times. The stakes are high and the tensions can sometimes be high as well. But while we’ll always have disagreements, I believe that we share the belief that a free press — a press that questions us, that holds us accountable, that sometimes gets under our skin — is absolutely an essential part of our democracy.”