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April 30, 2012 9:10 AM The Political Red Carpet

By Ed Kilgore

At church yesterday, about five different people came up to me and asked if I had watched the White House Correspondents’ Dinner the night before. Since all of these people had watched some or all of it, I didn’t think it was charitable to answer: “I’d rather watch paint dry,” or “This event is why they say politics is show business for ugly people.”

I do recall, though, that when I lived in Washington, people not only watched this event religiously, but went to a lot of trouble to get themselves invited to attend in person. And yes, there are even “before” and “after” parties, and something of a red carpet, just like in Hollywood. I suppose every industry, even political journalism, needs its little rituals. But these days the actual industry—which is more like a gang of freelance bookies taking bets on a mud-wrestling match—is so remote from the convivial spectacle of the WHCD that it’s like watching Mad Men as performed in a mental institution where everyone thinks it is 1966.

In any event, if, like me, you missed the Big Night in the Emerald City, you can read a brisk L.A. Times account of the night’s best jokes. Walter Shapiro has a nice TNR column on the evolution, or devolution, of the event, which he didn’t bother to attend this year either, calling it the “Nerd Prom.”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • Anonymous on April 30, 2012 9:31 AM:

    All I know about the event was what I heard on a 10 second clip of Jimmy Kimmel hosting the event. Lots of extremely lousy jokes done in ridiculously poor taste.

  • lou on April 30, 2012 9:35 AM:

    What more can these elites do to further my alienation from them? All wealth/celebrity identity seekers. God, the carbon footprint alone ...

    If there is a god, some smiting is in order, but then that god will tend to scattershoot so we'll all have some lead in our asses.

  • martin on April 30, 2012 9:51 AM:

    Stumbled into the middle of it. Mostly lamo jokes. The video Jimmy Kimmel had before his presentation was incredibly unfunny and offensive. Really, big dick jokes about the president?

    Funniest line to me:
    "Do you know what the difference is between Bill Maher fans and Rush Limbaugh fans?...Bill Maher's fans KNOW he's an asshole."

    The rest of the routine was about that classy, too.

  • Ron Byers on April 30, 2012 9:58 AM:

    Jimmy Kimmel referred to the event at the prom for political reporters--the prom they never attended in High School.

  • Stephen on April 30, 2012 10:07 AM:

    Then you missed a brilliant speech by the president. Kimmel didn't stand a chance.

  • zandru on April 30, 2012 10:10 AM:

    I'm with Stephen - the President did a good job. Rather amusing, particularly "the President's microphone is live" intro. He knows enough to get good writers.

  • jag on April 30, 2012 10:27 AM:

    Ed: I came to your blog via Krugman. I stayed even though you were no Krugman, which was fine as there is only one. I saw good flashes now and then. But your blog about your reasons for not watching the WHCD shows you are really a fool. Any person with some intelligence left in her (in your case, him) would have responded to your church-mates by saying "oh, did I miss something good". You are getting too old. Time for you to bed.

  • Danp on April 30, 2012 10:28 AM:

    My favorite was congratulating HuffPo for its Pulitzer for linking to great journalism.

  • vvo on April 30, 2012 10:36 AM:

    Actually I think Obama was pretty good - I loved how he told Newt that there was still time, how families were off-limits but the dogs were fair game, and the one about Trump
    He was able to send some slaps to the Rebup which they cannot complain about without looking like whiners

  • mmm on April 30, 2012 10:37 AM:

    The reference to "Man Room", otherwise known as a congressional hearing on contraception, was right on. Yep, pretty lame humor for the most part.

  • chopin on April 30, 2012 10:39 AM:

    We may have found the one thing in the whole universe that favors a Mittens presidency. Nothing would tamp down the vulgar in the WHCD than jokes by a panel of correspondents from the Mormon Times.

    Q: How do we know that Adam was a Mormon?
    A: Because only a Mormon could stand next to a naked woman and be tempted by a piece of fruit.

    Hardy har har har.

  • Danny Gail McElrath on April 30, 2012 10:58 AM:

    I callthat an insult to nerds.

  • bcamarda on April 30, 2012 11:03 AM:

    I'm with Danny Gail McElrath on that. Nerds are smart.

  • HMDK on April 30, 2012 11:32 AM:

    jag on April 30, 2012 10:27 AM:

    "Ed: I came to your blog via Krugman. I stayed even though you were no Krugman, which was fine as there is only one. I saw good flashes now and then. But your blog about your reasons for not watching the WHCD shows you are really a fool. Any person with some intelligence left in her (in your case, him) would have responded to your church-mates by saying "oh, did I miss something good". You are getting too old. Time for you to bed."

    The reasons for not watching doesn't make anyone a fool. It makes them sane.
    As for the answers why he didn't, he didn't write what he actually replied. He listed a couple of things he thought would be too rude. Your complaint is even more weird, because it's impossible to tell what you're actually complaining about.

  • Anonymous on April 30, 2012 11:35 AM:

    I dunno. I laughed pretty hard at a lot of the president's one liners. He managed to poke fun at his childhood and deflate the right's ridiculous new criticism: What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? A pitbull tastes delicious. The First Lady had a look of "I can't believe you said that" on her face.

    Kimmel had some funny stuff but was much cruder.

  • TCinLA on April 30, 2012 6:39 PM:

    But these days the actual industry ó which is more like a gang of freelance bookies taking bets on a mud-wrestling match ó is so remote from the convivial spectacle of the WHCD that itís like watching Mad Men as performed in a mental institution where everyone thinks it is 1966.

    That, sir, is great writing.

    But Obama did a much better job than any other President I can think of. Zinging Trump was bee-yoooo-ti-full

  • TCinLA on April 30, 2012 6:44 PM:

    The President's two jokes about dogs were great. I loved "My grandfather told me it's a boy-eat-dog world out there."