Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 1, 2011

FINDING HUMOR AT AN UNSEEMLY EVENT.... For the record, I think the criticism of the White House Correspondents' Dinner is more than fair. The event is increasingly unseemly, and as Dana Milbank noted this week, "out of control."

But as unbecoming as the dinner has become, that doesn't mean President Obama's remarks weren't funny.

Early on, the president announced he was prepared to resolve any lingering conspiracy theories by showing his "birth video," at which point attendees were shown a clip from The Lion King. Obama quickly noted, "I want to make clear to the Fox News table -- that was a joke. That was not my real birth video. That was a children's cartoon. Call Disney if you don't believe me, they have the original long form version."

But it was the president's skewering of a certain reality-show host that stood out. "Donald Trump is here tonight. 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?"

Obama added, "All kidding aside, we all know about your credentials and experience. "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," the president added, "are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well-handled, sir. Well-handled."

By all accounts, Trump didn't laugh at any of this. As near as I can tell, he was the only one.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (40)

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Catching the re-run this AM on C-SPAN, I'm convinced that Great Stone Face wasn't The Donald, but a cleverly crafted 'droid from a Star Wars film.

Posted by: DAY on May 1, 2011 at 8:10 AM | PERMALINK

“Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

And that was beautifully, calculatingly, DELICIOUSLY, COLD!
‘Faked moon landing, Roswell…’
‘And those are the kinds of decisons that would keep me up at night.”

Oh, and I loved watching Trump squirm. It looked like his sphincter was battling against a turd the size of his ego - and about to lose at any minute.

Well played, Mr. President. Very well played!

Posted by: c u n d gulag on May 1, 2011 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

What's more, during comedian Seth Meyers' roasting of Trump, the faux presidential candidate displayed all the charm of a homicide lieutenant.

Posted by: Jerry Elsea on May 1, 2011 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

Trump just scowled through the whole evening, it was a roast, it always has been, the presidents get roasted too, if Trump was not prepared for this he should not have gone - I wonder who invited him!

Posted by: j on May 1, 2011 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, Steve -- you really should have warned people about the truly horrible opening song.

No one should be subjected to that kind of abuse before breakfast, and certainly not before having consumed several very strong alcoholic beverages.

Posted by: karen marie on May 1, 2011 at 8:21 AM | PERMALINK

I think the fact that Trump didn't/couldn't laugh at the jokes about him is a sign that he has been thinking of himself as A Very Serious Person . . . which is a distressing thing--for us as an electorate; but also for him, to learn in so public a forum that few people join him in sharing that impression of him. Of course, the latter helps mitigate the former . . .

I am hoping that this morning Trump has awakened to feeling a new feeling, one previously alien to him, one that will cause him to announce on his show's finale that, you know, it's easier to make money by selling my name to people than it is to run for President. A feeling called Shame.

Posted by: John B. on May 1, 2011 at 8:28 AM | PERMALINK

Condescending marginalization of Fox and Trump - Very well played.

Posted by: bignose on May 1, 2011 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

The best line for me was Meyers comparing what Trump says to what you can hear at any OTB parlor.

Posted by: Marc on May 1, 2011 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

There is something disturbing about the fact that the press laughs at the jokes, but treat the Donald as though he is a serious news story anyway. I hope they feel a little shame, too.

Posted by: Danp on May 1, 2011 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

I thought the best line was a different one from Set Meyers.

"Donald Trump is running for president as a Republican. That's funny, I assumed he was running as a joke."

That leads to a question. Are the people who support Trump for president, playing along with the joke or are they the butt of the joke?

Posted by: DK on May 1, 2011 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm... Seems like the WH was building a theme this week. Good job!

Posted by: pol on May 1, 2011 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Watching Trump's body language during the jibes directed at him says everything you need to know about his narcissistic personality disorder. This is a man used to being treated like a Roman Emperor  by his underlings--and the problem is, he believes everyone in the world is his underling. If there has ever been a public figure more impressed with himself than 'The Donald', I cannot think of them.

Posted by: c4Logic on May 1, 2011 at 8:52 AM | PERMALINK

John B your summary was very much in line with my thinking .
I got a real laugh though with the surprise jest in your conclusion , caught me off guard .
He he he

Posted by: FRP on May 1, 2011 at 9:13 AM | PERMALINK

The president is running for re-election. Right now they are running against the Donald. Trump makes the perfect opponent. Are we sure team Obama didn't hire Trump for the gig.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 1, 2011 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

For the record, it was the Washington Post who invited Don Trump. The president handled him magnificently. Not surprisingly, Trump, as noted by all, does not take well to comeuppance. Like most gutless bullies (oxymoron?) he excels at lies and attack and fails utterly with the justifiable payback it provokes. It was pure joy to watch Mr. Stone Face stalk off after the event.

Posted by: Kathryn on May 1, 2011 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

As John Cole said "Welcome to the big leagues, Trump, you douchebag."

Posted by: Mike on May 1, 2011 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

gutless bullies (oxymoron?)

I wouldn't say so. In fact in most cases, I imagine it is more like a redundancy. I don't know if Trump bullies because he is a coward but he does so only from a position where he is unlikely to be challenged for it. In that sense at least his two instincts are complementary if not interdependent.

Posted by: brent on May 1, 2011 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

I hope a good time was had by all!

It is a difficult task for a fool to realize he's become a caricature of himself, or an entire cable network to realize what utter fools they've been for all these years!

Not that last night changed anything! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on May 1, 2011 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

To be fair, Trump didn't laugh while Obama was telling the jokes, but he was clearly keeping something in. By the end of the section, he breaks a bit and starts smiling and by the 11:25 mark, when Obama says "well handled, sir" he smiles and waves. At that point he seems to laugh out loud a bit.

Posted by: Polyhedron on May 1, 2011 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Trump proved that he is too stupid to hold any elected office by showing up at this roast. What did he THINK was going to happen? Hey, Donald - being rich doesn't make you smart; making money does not qualify a person to be a leader; reality tv and politics are not the same thing. Now if we had an old-fashioned president like Nixon or LBJ, Trump could look forward to a few years of tax audits - but I guess humiliation is enough for now.

Posted by: MuddyLee on May 1, 2011 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

Ah, now I understand everything after seeing the video! The birth's setting was Kenya, but it was shot on location in Hawaii!

Well played, Mr. President. Nice 3-D chess move.

Posted by: g on May 1, 2011 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

You don't get this from the transcript; you have to watch the video: It's telling that Obama got some of his best laughs simply by saying "(w)e all know about your credentials and experience."

Posted by: PRKL8R on May 1, 2011 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

The Donald is done. The "birth certificate" brought ridicule upon himself, but to the media as well. It was shameful in its implications. The media can laugh and rebound - but it's tolerance of Donald will not survive and so neither will he. Politics is cut throat and Donald got slashed to pieces and defanged last week. It's perfect that everyone in the room knew it but him. Though by his expression he seemed to be getting the idea. I suspect he won't run. He is hurting his brand and in the end that's all he has.

Posted by: JCW on May 1, 2011 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Da Trump looked like he believed if he stared hard enough he could kill Seth Meyers.

And, not being a big follower of Trump, I'd nver seen his hair from that angle before. It is more horrifying than I imagined. How can anyone sit in the same room as he and not giggle?

Posted by: martin on May 1, 2011 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

"By all accounts, Trump didn't laugh at any of this."

That's because he is as thin-skinned as Sarah Palin and just as stupid.

Posted by: Nancy on May 1, 2011 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously nothing on this scale, but has he ever gotten his comeuppance before? If so, how did he react. It will be interesting to see how he takes this.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on May 1, 2011 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

By tomorrow, Trump will be saying that he never thought Seth Meyers was funny on SNL, his movies have all been failures and he is a "loser".

Posted by: DRF on May 1, 2011 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

It's nice to know that with his policies either (a) following Bush or (b) building even bigger deficits than Bush or (c) losing popular support or (d) falling apart, Obama still has the composure to tell jokes at other people's expense.

The jokes are funny, as you note.

So were Mercutio's jokes.

Posted by: marketeer on May 1, 2011 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

The cut-aways to Trump glaring at the podium were priceless. It's alomst as if he knew he'd been fired. What an arrogant jerk.

Posted by: max on May 1, 2011 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

The Donald fancies himself as American Royalty, and is unaccustomed to being ridiculed by those he considers beneath him (this would include, in his arrogant and fevered imagination, pretty much everyone in the world, the President included). After all, he has this hanging in one of his homes. I'm sure he demands that the "help" bow before it and kiss the frame daily to show proper reverence.

In short, the man's a vulgar megalomaniac who gives a new definition to the term "asshole."

Posted by: John on May 1, 2011 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Here's the Seth Meyers' video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YGITlxfT6s

Posted by: Hannah on May 1, 2011 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Priceless. It's difficult to believe that more truth comes out at the WHPC dinner than does on any other night of the year. The Lion King stuff was the bomb baby!

Posted by: Trollop on May 1, 2011 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

@marketeer.. Oh, we have an Obama hater who doesn't know anything about the President but that doesn't stop it from invoking stupid bush comparison, talking points because they're too lazy to do any research.

And, poor racist Donald Trump getting called on it at the WHCD. Talk about Cosmic Karmic Blowback!

Posted by: Cha on May 1, 2011 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Since Trump has taken public asininity to new heights (or depths) lately, it's hard to believe that he would go to that kind of event unprepared to be skewered. Did someone tell him it was a funeral?

Posted by: tamiasmin on May 1, 2011 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Trump's a dickhead, Fox is a joke and Obama's timing is good, but we're back to discussing and analysing inanities again. It's a continuing distraction that can only help the GOP avoid real scrutiny as they continue their search for a viable candidate.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on May 1, 2011 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

marketeer, I guess you didn't notice that the President also told a few jokes at his own expense and smiled while he did so.

Personally, I thought the "trailer" for the "upcoming" movie The President's Speach was hilarious.

And I thought the serious note that he ended his appearance on was appropriate.

Posted by: tanstaafl on May 1, 2011 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

So, Obama waited to release his long form birth certificate until this week so that he could do this schtick? Wow.

Posted by: Fraud Guy on May 1, 2011 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

I thought Seth Meyers' comments poignant as he looked over to Obama and said: "There was a man a couple of years ago who I think you may have liked..his name was Barack Obama" (paraphrasing).
And then asked "What happened to that guy? Was he too idealistic?" he posed...

I thought Obama did well and the cartoon of his birth was a kick, but he seemed a bit over the top angry with Matt Damon..trashing his latest movie (apparently Damon said he's disappointed a bit with the President). Not the best way to win over a huge base of Hollywood supporters, ya think? And Damon wasn't even in the room..or was he?

Agree with others who noticed how Trump just couldn't take the hits at him..what did he expect after vilifying the President over and over and trying still now to de-legitimize him, de-humanize him, (he's not one of us, therefore we can hate him..) much like what was done to the Jews before they were slaughtered and to the Blacks and many other oppressed minorities..

What a narcissistic entitled ass he is. He's made a laughing stock of the whole GOP, and yet they don't have the guts still to tell him to STFU.

Posted by: What happened to that Obama from 2008..You would have liked that guy. on May 2, 2011 at 12:29 AM | PERMALINK

I agree that POTUS' turn was hilarious, but I thought the reference to Biggie and Tupac was in bad taste. I presume they're the subject of some stupid conspiracy theory too, but after all, they are two guys who were murdered.

Posted by: Nancy Irving on May 2, 2011 at 2:51 AM | PERMALINK

Donald Trump is the George W. Bush of the private sector. He inherited a multi-million dollar real estate business from his father, which he then proceeded to take into bankruptcy. Four times.

But for the GOP base, he's a "successful businessman."

Posted by: Nancy Irving on May 2, 2011 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK
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