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Donald Trump Can’t Take a Joke and Other Tales from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

| May 1, 2011

Seth Meyers and his garden club.

The White House Correspondents’ Association was officially formed in 1914 but didn’t hold its first communal dinner until 1920, and didn’t host a president until Calvin Coolidge attended in 1924. The New York Times that year described the association as “an organization of newswriters assigned to ‘cover’ the Executive Mansion.” The quotes around the word cover were not intended as a joke, nor was the dinner originally much of a funny affair. Not that it has been since, on most occasions: last year the headlining joker was Jay Leno, who’d be as humorous as a wheat field in Nebraska if the analogy didn’t insult Johnny Carson’s home state.

There’s been a few moments worth vaulting to the National Archives, as when Laura Bush took the dais from George in 2005, joked about his masturbating a horse on his Crawford ranch, likened Barbara Bush to a Corleone, likened herself to a desperate housewife and reminded us why Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld got along so well: they liked to destroy everything. (You can watch her routine here.)

Saturday evening the jokes were a bit frothier, and Sarah Palin, who was there, had nothing to do with it (which tells you what she can see from her house now: her fallen stars, all the way to Russia). Correction: as our trusty commenter notes, Palin was not at the dinner itself: she chose to display her glacial sanctimony at an anti-abortion bonfire, then she tramped off to the after-dinner parties, a perfectly Palineque, perfectly disingenuous way of pretending to do something high and mighty while catching all the pandering fun anyway.

Seth Meyers was the headliner, and Donald Trump, after being booed coming in, was in the audience with three dates (his latest wife, his ego and his hairiness): begging combination.

Meyers launched better than Endeavor: “Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising, since I just assumed he was running as a joke.” Trump sat, expressionless, in a replica of Stone Mountain with a hairpiece. A joke that can’t take a joke. There was more: “Donald Trump often appears on Fox, which is ironic, because a fox often appears in Donald Trump’s head.” And more: “If you’re at the Washington Post table with Trump and you can’t finish your entree, don’t worry, the fox will eat it.” And more: “Gary Busey said recently that Donald Trump would make a great president. Of course he said the same thing about an old rusty bird cage he found.” Come on, one more: “Donald Trump owns the Miss USA pageant, which is great for Republicans because it will streamline their search for a vice president.”

Not even a wink from The Donald. In the video you’ll see Rick Scott, who was either at the same table or at the table in front of Trump’s, arching back with what appears to be the suggestion of a friendly smile on his face, only to rear back faster than a bullet train. The only person looking more dour than Trump in the room was Bill O’Reilly, who felt helpless, unable to bully anybody. Myers wasn’t done: “Donald Trump said recently he has a great relationship with the blacks, though unless the blacks are a family of white people, I bet he’s mistaken.” Obama, of course, laughed plenty at that one.

Better yet was Meyers’s skewering of Obama. Referring to the amoebic semblance of GOP life forms glueing up to take on Obama in 2012, he said: “So it’s not a strong field, and who knows if they can beat you in 2012, but I can tell you who can definitely beat you Mr. President: 2008 Barack Obama. You would have loved him. So charismatic, so charming. Was he a little too idealistic? Maybe.” Obama nodded here. “But you would have loved him.”

Obama’s routine wasn’t as strong: presidents’ never are when they actually try to be funny, though some manage to turn their entire tenure into comedic routines (the aforementioned Coolidge, Reagan and the second Bush, for enders). But he put in a few on the birther idiocy. “Donald Trump is here tonight,” Obama said. “Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is prouder to put this birth certificate to rest than The Donald. Now he can get to focusing on the issues that matter. Like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened at Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?” And: “All kidding aside, we all know about your credentials and experience.” And: In “Celebrity Apprentice, the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha steaks, but you recognized that this was a lack of leadership, so you fired Gary Busey. These are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well-handled, sir. Well-handled.” (Curiously, the Washington Post, which hosted Trump at its table, carried not a single picture of the guy in its morning slide show, unsmiling or not.)

Best moment: Obama revealing his birth video. The joke? Simba’s birth in “The Lion King.”

Here are both: Obama’s first then the Meyers routine.

–Pierre Tristam

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6 Responses for “Donald Trump Can’t Take a Joke and Other Tales from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner”

  1. lawabidingcitizen says:

    and Sarah Palin, who was there … err – actually she wasn’t, but why then spoil your fevered fantasies with facts.

  2. William says:

    Really did enjoy Obummer’s evisceration of The Hairpiece.

    In related news, The Independent has a wonderful commentary regarding this 5th class asshole:

    “Since the election of Barack Obama, the Republican Party has proved that one of its central intellectual arguments was right all along. It has long claimed that evolution is a myth believed in only by whiny liberals – and it turns out it was on to something. Every six months, the party venerates a new hero, and each time it is somebody further back on the evolutionary scale.”

  3. Liana G says:

    Nice to see Helen Thomas there. I miss her already!

    2012 looks like it’s going to be a great year for Dems and Indies, what with the GOP lineup. However, I would like to see a Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren ticket.

  4. Liana G says:

    William. Yep, this was yet another great article by Johann Hari. Even more interesting was the Brit posters who thought this article more news worthy than the royal wedding coverage. Nice to see outstanding journalism still has its loyal following.

  5. palmcoaster says:

    Totally agree with Liana about Bernie and Elizabeth….unless Obama puts pressure to lower the price of gas and tax imports to bring back our jobs before 2012.

  6. Rob says:

    Donald Trump probably does not believe that Bin Laden is deceased.

    He will want to see the death certificate.

    However, if he is deceased Trump will attempt to take all of the credit for the success of the operation.

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