Saturday night’s White House Correspondence dinner was quite the cattle call. 4,600 folks: celebrity meets the media, meets Wall Street, meets Hollywood meets Washington’s political elite. The event comes complete with an embarrassing exercise in Red Carpet posing, including Huma Abedin in her lovely blue dress; rumor has it Giselle Bundchen Brady was aghast at the lack of posing technique, but that’s just a rumor.
Two schools of thought prevail. On the one hand, it speaks well that so many people of differing stripes can spend the evening together, engaged in civil discourse. On the other, the supposed Chinese wall that should separate politicians from journalists was undeniably absent. Were the demise of that wall a one night stand there would be little room for consternation. But the media has proven itself to be swayed by its political leanings time and time again, and this night has apparently evolved to celebrate that relationship.
One lucky lady got a hands-on tennis lesson from Billie Jean King that should be worth the price of admission. Much milling around as the crowd seemed highly concerned with one of two issues: finding the CSPAN cameras, or avoiding them.
For a former hotelier like me, the very thought of serving 4,600 is nightmarish in the extreme, and from the looks on their faces, I’ll bet the service staff at the Washington Hilton would agree.
I must say the ladies all looked fabulous. The men all looked the same, with the rare exception of a bow tie that wasn’t black, and the even rarer colorful pocket hanky. This was not a men’s fashion profile in courage; you could almost hear Joan Rivers in the back of your mind letting loose as the captain of the Fashion Police.
The President, looking as if he is aging a week for every day, was gaunt and grey but funny – at first. He put the needle to no fewer than 30 targets, with Hillary and Ted Cruz set up for multiple needles. On Hillary: “For many Americans this is a time of deep uncertainty. For example, I have one friend who just a few weeks ago was making millions of dollars a year and she’s now living out of a van in Iowa.” Bernie Sanders was also on the hot seat: “Bernie Sanders might run. I like Bernie, interesting guy. Apparently some folks want to see a pot-smoking socialist in the White House. We could get the third Obama term after all.”
Then we were introduced to the President’s “anger translator,” Keegan-Michael Key, who purported to translate benign political talking points into, supposedly, what the President actually thought. Not funny, I regret to say; inappropriate and demeaning to all, including the President for agreeing to such a harsh bit of political theater.
The sad part is, the “anger translation” is probably closer to the truth than we’d like to admit. The final bits from the “translator” were a recommendation that the President get counseling, and an aside to Michelle Obama that “he crazy.” How much truth to those translations?