President Obama at White House Correspondents’ Dinner


The President: Thank you very much. (applause) Thank you. Thank
you so much, everybody. Please have a seat, have a seat. Before I get started,
can we get the new Presidential
setup out here? It’s worked before. (laughter and applause) That’s more like it. It is great to be back. What a year, huh? I usually start these
dinners with a few self-deprecating jokes. After my stellar 2013,
what could I possibly talk about? (laughter) I admit it
— last year was rough. Sheesh. (laughter) At one point
things got so bad, the 47 percent called Mitt
Romney to apologize. (laughter) Of course, we
rolled out healthcare.gov. That could have
gone better. (laughter) In 2008 my
slogan was, “Yes We Can.” In 2013 my slogan was,
“Control-Alt-Delete.” (laughter) On the plus
side, they did turn the launch of healthcare.gov
into one of the year’s biggest movies. (laughter) But rather than
dwell on the past, I would like to pivot
to this dinner. Let’s welcome our
headliner this evening, Joel McHale. (applause) On “Community,”
Joel plays a preening, self-obsessed narcissist. So this dinner must be a
real change of pace for you. (laughter) I want to thank the White House Correspondents Association for hosting us here tonight. I am happy to be here,
even though I am a little jet-lagged from my
trip to Malaysia. The lengths we have to go
to get CNN coverage these days. (laughter and applause) I think they’re still searching for their table. (laughter and applause) MSNBC is here. They’re a little
overwhelmed. (laughter) They’ve never
seen an audience this big before. (laughter) But, look,
everybody is trying to keep up with this incredibly fast-changing media landscape. For example, I got a lot
of grief on cable news for promoting Obamacare to
young people on Between Two Ferns. But that’s what young
people like to watch. And to be fair, I am
not the first person on television between
two potted plants. (laughter and applause) Sometimes I do feel disrespected by
you reporters. But that’s okay. Seattle Seahawk cornerback
Richard Sherman is here tonight. (applause) And he gave me
some great tips on how to handle it. Jake Tapper, don’t you
ever talk about me like that! (laughter) I’m the best
President in the game! (laughter) What do
you think, Richard? Was that good? A little more
feeling next time? (laughter) While we’re talking
sports, just last month, a wonderful story — an
American won the Boston Marathon for
first time in 30 years. (applause) Which was
inspiring and only fair, since a Kenyan has been
President for the last six. (laughter and applause) Had to even things out. (laughter) We have some
other athletes here tonight, including Olympic
snowboarding gold medalist Jamie Anderson is here. We’re proud of her. (applause) Incredibly
talented young lady. Michelle and I watched
the Olympics — we cannot believe what these
folks do — death-defying feats — haven’t seen somebody
pull a “180” that fast since Rand Paul
disinvited that Nevada rancher from this dinner. (laughter) As a general
rule, things don’t like end well if the sentence
starts, “Let me tell you something I
know about the negro.” (laughter) You don’t
really need to hear the rest of it. (laughter and applause) Just a tip for you — don’t start your
sentence that way. (laughter) Speaking of
Rand Paul — (laughter) — Colorado legalized
marijuana this year, an interesting social
experiment. I do hope it doesn’t lead
to a whole lot of paranoid people who think that the
federal government is out to get them and listening
to their phone calls. (laughter) That
would be a problem. (laughter) And speaking of
conservative heroes, the Koch brothers bought
a table here tonight. But as usual, they used
a shadowy right-wing organization as a front. Hello, Fox News. (laughter and applause) I’m just kidding. Let’s face it, Fox, you’ll
miss me when I’m gone. (laughter) It will be
harder to convince the American people that
Hillary was born in Kenya. (laughter and applause) A lot of us really are concerned about the way
big money is influencing our politics. I remember when a Super
PAC was just me buying Marlboro 100s
instead of regulars. (laughter) Of course, now
that it’s 2014, Washington is obsessed on
the midterms. Folks are saying that with
my sagging poll numbers, my fellow Democrats don’t
really want me campaigning with them. And I don’t think that’s
true — although I did notice the other day that
Sasha needed a speaker at career day, and she
invited Bill Clinton. (laughter) I was a
little hurt by that. (laughter) Both sides are
doing whatever it takes to win the ruthless game. Republicans — this is a
true story — Republicans actually brought in
a group of consultants to teach their candidates
how to speak to women. This is true. And I don’t know if it
will work with women, but I understand that
America’s teenage boys are signing up to run for
the Senate in droves. (laughter) Anyway, while
you guys focus on the horserace, I’m going to do
what I do — I’m going to be focused on
everyday Americans. Just yesterday, I read a
heartbreaking letter — you know I get letters
from folks from around the country; every day I get
10 that I read — this one got to me. A Virginia man who’s
been stuck in the same part-time job for years;
no respect from his boss; no chance to get ahead. I really wish Eric Cantor
would stop writing me. (laughter) You can just
pick up the phone, Eric. (laughter) And I’m feeling
sorry — believe it or not — for the Speaker of
the House, as well. These days, the House
Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time
than they give me, which means orange really
is the new black. (laughter and applause) But I have not given up the idea of working
with Congress. In fact, two weeks ago,
Senator Ted Cruz and I, we got a bill done together. And I have to say, the
signing ceremony was something special. We’ve got a picture
of it I think. (laughter) Look, I know,
Washington seems more dysfunctional than ever. Gridlock has gotten so bad
in this town you have to wonder: What did we do to
piss off Chris Christie so bad? (laughter and applause) One issue, for example, we haven’t been able to agree on is unemployment insurance. Republicans continue to
refuse to extend it. And you know what, I am
beginning to think they’ve got a point. If you want to get paid
while not working, you should have to run for
Congress just like everybody else. (laughter and applause) Of course, there is one thing
that keeps Republicans busy. They have tried more
than 50 times to repeal Obamacare. Despite that, 8 million
people signed up for health care in the
first open enrollment. (applause) Which does lead
one to ask, how well does Obamacare have to
work before you don’t want to repeal it? What if everybody’s
cholesterol drops to 120? (laughter) What if your
yearly checkup came with tickets to a
Clippers game? (laughter) Not the old,
Donald Sterling Clippers — the new Oprah Clippers. Would that be good enough? (laughter) What if they
gave Mitch McConnell a pulse? (laughter) What is
it going to take? (laughter) Anyway, this
year, I’ve promised to use more executive actions to
get things done without Congress. My critics call this the
“imperial presidency.” The truth is, I just show
up every day in my office and do my job. I’ve got a picture
of this I think. (laughter and applause) You would think they’d appreciate a more
assertive approach, considering that the new
conservative darling is none other than
Vladimir Putin. (laughter) Last year, Pat
Buchanan said Putin is “headed straight for
the Nobel Peace Prize.” He said this. Now I know it sounds crazy
but to be fair, they give those to just about
anybody these days. (laughter) So
it could happen. But it’s not just Pat —
Rudy Giuliani said Putin is “what you
call a leader.” Mike Huckabee and Sean
Hannity keep talking about his bare chest, which
is kind of weird. (laughter) Look it up —
they talk about it a lot. (laughter) It is strange
to think that I have just two and a half years
left in this office. Everywhere I look, there
are reminders that I only hold this job temporarily. (laughter) But it’s a long
time between now and 2016, and anything can happen. You may have heard the
other day, Hillary had to dodge a flying
shoe at a press conference. (laughter and applause) I love that picture. (laughter) Regardless of
what happens, I’ve run my last campaign and
I’m beginning to think about my legacy. Some of you know — Mayor
Rahm Emanuel recently announced he is naming a
high school after me in Chicago, which is
extremely humbling. I was even more flattered
to hear Rick Perry, who is here tonigh, is doing
the same thing in Texas. Take a look. (laughter) Thank you, Rick. It means a lot to me. (laughter and applause) And I intend to enjoy all the free time
that I will have. George W. Bush took up painting
after he left office, which inspired me to take
up my own artistic side. I’m sure we’ve
got a shot of this. (laughter) Maybe not. The joke doesn’t work
without the slide. (laughter) Oh well. Assume that it was funny. (laughter) Does this
happen to you, Joel? It does? Okay. On a more serious note,
tonight reminds us that we really are lucky to
live in a country where reporters get to give a
head of state a hard time on a daily basis —
and then, once a year, give him or her the chance, at
least, to try to return the favor. But we also know that
not every journalist, or photographer, or
crewmember is so fortunate, because even
as we celebrate the free press tonight, our
thoughts are with those in places around the globe
like Ukraine, and Afghanistan, and Syria,
and Egypt, who risk everything — in
some cases, even give their lives — to
report the news. And what tonight also
reminds us is that the fight for full and fair
access goes beyond the chance to ask a question. As Steve mentioned,
decades ago, an African American who wanted
to cover his or her President might be barred from
journalism school, burdened by Jim Crow, and,
once in Washington, banned from press conferences. But after years of
effort, black editors and publishers began meeting
with FDR’s press secretary, Steve Early. And then they met with the
President himself, who declared that a black
reporter would get a credential. And even when Harry
McAlpin made history as the first African American
to attend a Presidential news conference, he wasn’t
always welcomed by the other reporters. But he was welcomed by the
President, who told him, I’m glad to see you,
McAlpin, and I’m very happy to have you here. Now, that sentiment might
have worn off once Harry asked him a question or
two — (laughter) — and Harry’s battles continued. But he made history. And we’re s proud of
Sherman and his family for being here tonight,
and the White House Correspondents Association
for creating a scholarship in Harry’s name. (applause) For over 100
years, even as the White House
Correspondents Association has told the story of America’s
progress, you’ve lived it, too — gradually allowing
equal access to women, and minorities, and gays, and Americans with disabilities. And, yes, radio, and
television, and Internet reporters, as well. And through it all, you’ve
helped make sure that even as societies change, our
fundamental commitment to the interaction between
those who govern and those who ask questions
doesn’t change. And as Jay will attest,
it’s a legacy you carry on enthusiastically
every single day. And because this is the
100th anniversary of the Correspondents’
Association, I actually recorded an additional
brief video thanking all of you for your hard work. Can we run the video? The President: What’s going on? (laughter) I was
told this would work. Does anybody know
how to fix this? (laughter) The
President: Oh, thank you. (laughter and applause) You got it? Secretary Sebelius: I got
this — I see it all the time. There, that should work. The President: Congratulations to the White House Correspondents Association. Here’s to 100 more terrific years. The President: Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. And God bless America, and thank you, Kathleen Sebelius. (applause)

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