President Barack Obama took his leave of the White House press corps on Saturday with a sardonic blow at Donald Trump, the Republican Party and even fellow Democrats in his final tart-tongued stand-up riff at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.
Trump, the widely anticipated target of Obama’s barbs who was memorably skewered in 2011, was not in attendance — a fact that did not go unnoticed by the commander in chief.
US President Barack Obama makes a toast at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington, DC on April 25, 2015.
What Obama had to say:
On life after the White House
“If this material works well, I’m gonna use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans.”
On being late
“I do apologize, I know I was a little late tonight. I was running on CPT – which stands for jokes that white people should not make.”
On who will be the next president
“Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot. And it’s anyone’s guess who she will be.”
On Bernie Sanders
“We’ve got the bright new face of the Democratic Party here tonight, Mr. Bernie Sanders! Bernie, you look like a million bucks. Or to put it in terms you’ll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each.”
On Sanders distancing himself from Obama
“I am a little hurt that you’re distancing yourself from me, Bernie. That’s not something you do to your comrade.”
On his approval ratings
“In my final year, my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide on my major.”
On how Trump could assist his administration
“There’s one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable, and that’s closing Guantanamo. Because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground.”
On what Trump is doing right now
“I am a little hurt he’s not here tonight. We had so much fun the last time. And it is surprising — you have a room full of reporters, celebrities, cameras. And he says no. Is this dinner too tacky for The Donald? What could he be possibly doing instead? Eating a Trump Steak? Tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel? What’s he doing?”
On Trump’s foreign policy chops
“They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president, but in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world — Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan.”
On comparing Michael Bloomberg to Trump
“I see Mike Bloomberg. Mike, a combative, controversial New York billionaire is leading the GOP primary and it’s not you. That has to sting a little bit. Although it’s not an entirely fair comparison between you and the Donald. After all, Mike was a big city mayor, he knows policy in-depth. And he’s actually worth the amount of money that he says he is.”
In a way, the dinner speech is a small part of the legacy that Obama will pass on to his successor. Obama has confounded the lame duck label that haunts second-term presidents, has had major initiatives like his opening to Cuba and nuclear deal with Iran come to fruition in the last year, and his approval ratings recently topped 50% for the first time in years.
That’s because, over the years, he’s stretched the genre of the address itself, walking right up to the line which is seen as acceptable sarcasm.
Since the days of Ronald Reagan, when the speech was more of a Johnny Carson-style late night monologue, presidents have used the event to settle political scores in a way that they would never do in a more formal environment.
– Ankur Bagai