(Photo: Reuters/Larry Downing)
President Barack Obama showed his lighter side and a knack for comedy Saturday night at the White House Correspondents' dinner.
His monologue began by poking fun at his "open mic" controversy with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in March.
"Seriously guys, what am I doing here?" Obama joked backstage as he pretended to be unaware that the mic was on. "I'm the president of the United States and I'm opening for Jimmy Kimmel? I have the nuclear codes. Why am I telling knock-knock jokes to Kim Kardashian? Why is she famous anyway? That's it. Next year, we send Biden."
The White House Correspondents' Association began in 1914. Its first dinner, in 1924, was attended by President Calvin Coolidge. The occasion, attended by both Republicans and Democrats as well as a host of celebrities, is a break from the usual partisan rancor that characterizes much of Beltway politics, especially in an election year. Obama sarcastically poked fun at his disagreements with Congress.
"Congress and I have certainly had our differences. Yet, I've tried to be civil. To not take any cheap shots. And that's why I want to especially thank all the members who took a break from their exhausting schedule of not passing any laws to be here tonight."
Obama also used self-effacing humor, joking about the greying of his hair (a five on the "Just for Men" scale), the revelation that he once ate dog meat (my stepfather always told me, it's a boy-eat-dog world out there), and that Americans like his wife, Michelle Obama, more than him.
One thing that he and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney have in common, Obama said, is that "we both think of our wives as our better halves, and polls show, to an alarmingly insulting extent, the American people agree."
Obama ended his speech on a serious note, remembering two journalists who had died in the previous year – Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin. Both reporters were killed while reporting on the violence in Syria.
Colvin and Shadid, Obama said, "made the ultimate sacrifice. They sought to shine a light on some of the important stories of our time. So, whether you are a blogger or a broadcaster. Whether you take on powerful interests here at home or put yourself in harm's way overseas, I have the greatest respect and admiration for what you do."
The full speech can be viewed below.