When this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner airs on Sunday, April 29, things are going to look considerably different. For many reasons, not the least of which being there will not be a president on site. Nor will there be any White House staffers. Many of the main stream media sites who have been invited have declined their invitations. Would that it were still 2016, and President Obama was hosting the dinner. As it stands, we will have to content ourselves with videos of Obama's White House Correspondents' Dinner roasts. Because it wasn't that long ago that the President of the United States was the sort of man who attended dinners to honor principled journalists, rather than holding rallies to honor himself.
President Trump, who was so frequently the subject of President Obama's epic roasts, announced via Twitter that he would not be attending the 103rd White House Correspondents' Dinner. Trump has had a terse relationship with the media since he moved in to the White House in January, frequently referring to major news outlets like CNN and The New York Times as "fake news," even banning these same news organizations from press briefings at times. So perhaps it doesn't come as a terrific surprise that he would snub a dinner to honor White House correspondents, instead choosing to hold a rally in Pennsylvania that same night, according to The New York Post.
This is a far cry from the White House Correspondents' Dinners held during the Obama years. Obama was known for his razor sharp wit and self-deprecating sense of humor, and he put both to good use during his speeches. In fact, his 2011 speech could be the reason President Trump isn't attending... after all, he was roasted something fierce by Obama.
In 2011, Donald Trump appeared to be obsessed with President Obama's birth certificate. Not long before the White House Correspondents' Dinner, the state of Hawaii released Obama's long form birth certificate. At the dinner (and in front of a visibly irate Trump), Obama announced he would be sharing his birth video. Much laughter at Trump's expense ensued.
By this point in Obama's presidency, he was getting pretty comfortable with himself. As he said during his speech, "I feel more loose and relaxed than ever; those Joe Biden full body massages work like magic." He referred to this year as the "fourth quarter" of his presidency, and had no problem slaying behind the podium.
Obama opened his final speech at the Correspondents' Dinner by saying, "It is an honor to be at my last — and perhaps the last — White House Correspondents' Dinner. You all look great; the end of the Republic has never looked better."
I would laugh if I wasn't sitting here crying.