WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama cracked jokes about the government’s disastrous health care policy rollout and mocked political opponents at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner late Saturday.
The annual event, known informally as the “nerd prom,” brings Washington’s top journalists together with a clatch of celebrities and power brokers for a dinner with the president and first lady.
The night was full of insider jokes and sharp jabs veiled in humor by Obama and the featured speaker, comedian Joel McHale.
“In 2008, my slogan was ‘Yes We Can.’ In 2013, my slogan was Control+Alt+Delete,” the president joked, a reference to the technical problems on healthcare.gov, the website created for his signature health care overhaul.
Near the end of the presentation there were mock technical problems with a video segment – and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius, blamed for the healthcare.gov debacle, showed up to “fix” it.
The president did not spare the cable TV news networks.
“I just got back from Malaysia,” Obama said. “The lengths you have to travel to get CNN coverage. I think they’re still searching for their table.”
The reference was to CNN’s blanket coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines airplane that for a time pushed other news off their airwaves.
He also took a jab at Fox News, which he joked was a “shadowy right-wing organization.”
“Let’s face it, Fox, you’ll miss me when I’m gone. It’ll be harder to convince American people that Hillary was born in Kenya,” he said.
Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton is widely seen as the front runner in the 2016 presidential race, though she has been coy about her intention to run.
TV anchors and Washington reporters — minor celebrities largely unknown outside of the US capital’ tight community of insiders — shared dinner with Hollywood guests like Robert de Niro and Patrick Stewart.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who rose to fame in “Seinfeld” and now stars in a cable TV comedy about a fictitious vice president, appeared in a funny video before the main event along with Vice President Joe Biden. Michelle Obama also appeared in the clip.
Politicians at the dinner included Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz and the corpulent governor of New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie. Both have presidential ambitions, and both were targets of sharp jokes.