September 21, 2014
Washington gridlock butt of Obama jokes at correspondents' dinner
US President Barack Obama poked fun at himself and what he called a hard year but aimed his most caustic humor at Washington gridlock when political and media luminaries gathered at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner.
"In 2008 my slogan was, 'Yes we can.' In 2013, it was control-alt-delete," Obama joked to a Saturday night audience also studded with film and television stars.
"At one point, things got so bad the 47 percent called Mitt Romney to apologize," he said, referring to a 2012 presidential campaign gaffe in which the Republican candidate said, in comments that were secretly taped, that 47 percent of Americans have become reliant on government handouts.
More than 2,000 guests packed the ballroom of the Washington Hilton, where the capital's political and media worlds collide every year in lubricated goodwill punctuated by a long dash of glamour on loan from Hollywood. The association marked its 100th year this year.
The president highlighted some of the low points of his administration's last year, dwelling on the disastrous rollout of the website for his landmark health insurance reform legislation.
"Of course we rolled out HealthCare.gov. That could have gone better," he deadpanned.
Later he turned on Republican opponents in Congress who are clamoring to repeal the legislation despite higher than expected enrollment figures in the government health care exchanges: "How well does Obamacare have to work before you stop trying to repeal it?"
Obama said he had been feeling sorry for John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives. "These days, the House Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time than they give me, which means orange really is the new black," he said, a reference to Boehner's seemingly perpetual tan.
At the end of his speech, Obama turned the audience's attention to a video monitor, which failed to work. Kathleen Sebelius, the health secretary who announced her resignation this month after overseeing the botched rollout of Obamacare, stepped to the podium to try to fix the technical glitch.
Obama also took a swipe at Republicans for blocking his bid to raise the minimum wage. "If you want to get paid for not working you should run for Congress just like everyone else," he said.