Much has changed for President Barack Obama in the 51 weeks since he visited the Washington Hilton for the 2009 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, just a couple months removed from his inauguration and the heady afterglow. At that dinner, he joked about "the 10-day anniversary of my first 100 days." He said he believed that "my next 100 days will be so successful, I will be able to complete them in 72 days … and on the 73rd day, I will rest."
Well, less than one week later, a prominent columnist claimed that Obama's honeymoon was over. And that was before the new strategy in Afghanistan, gridlock on healthcare and the rise of Tea Party "patriots." But at least one thing remained the same when Obama returned to the hotel Saturday night for the 2010 White House Correspondents' dinner: His jokes still drew plenty of laughter (noticeably more than the late-night comedian who followed him).
See Part 1 of Obama's address
"Glad to say the only person whose ratings fell more than mine is here tonight," Obama said. "Great to see you Jay! I'm also glad that I'm speaking first … we've all seen what happens when someone takes the time slot after Leno."
"Even though the mainstream media has given me a hard time, I hear I'm still pretty big on Twitter and Facebook," Obama said. "Or as Sarah Palin calls it, 'socialized media.'"
See Part 2 of Obama's address
In his 17 minutes at the microphone, Obama displayed a knack for making fun of himself and his perceived weaknesses, while simultaneously tweaking his critics and opponents. He acknowledged that his presidency has seen a lot of ups and downs, "except for my approval ratings," he said, "which have mostly gone down. But that doesn't bother me, because I know my approval ratings are still very high in my country of birth."
At last year's dinner, Obama noted that "Michael Steele is in the house … or as he would say, 'in the heezy.'" Obama expanded on the theme this year, telling the audience that he saw the RNC chairman backstage and coined a new nickname for him: "Notorious G.O.P." Then he gave Steele credit for knowing what plagues the country today: "taxation without representin'." But looking in Steele's direction, Obama uttered a seemingly heartfelt (sympathetic?) "my brother," before moving on.
Neither Obama nor anyone else in attendance was laughing later that evening, as word spread of a bomb scare in Times Square. Obama was briefed immediately following Leno's dismal performance. But the levity was fun while it lasted.
— Deron Snyder is a regular contributor to The Root.