US politicians and Hollywood celebrities rubbed shoulders in Washington – as President Obama used his speech at the centenary White House correspondents’ dinner to talk of a difficult year, attack his opponents, and send himself up.
“In 2008 my slogan was ‘Yes We Can’. In 2013 my slogan was ‘Control-Alt-Delete’,” he joked.
On foreign policy, the president turned criticism on its head by mocking past praise by some conservatives for his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
“Last year, (politician and commentator) Pat Buchanan said Putin’s headed straight for the Nobel Peace Prize. He said this. Now I know it sounds crazy but to be fair they give those to just about anybody these days. It could happen,” Obama said to laughter from the audience.
Obama continued: “Rudy Giuliani [former New York mayor] said, ‘Putin is what you would call a leader’. Mike Huckabee and Shawn Hannity keep talking about his bare chest, which is kind of weird,” Obama commented, referring to the Republican politician and TV host. “Look it up. They talk about it a lot,” he said to more laughter.
The president also joked about the flawed launch of his flagship Obamacare health reform website. Technical hitches returned to haunt him as he tried to launch a recorded video message, which promptly failed to work properly.
“Does anybody know how to fix this?” the president quipped.
The outgoing Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius came to the rescue, enabling Obama to conclude a welcome moment of light relief at a crucial stage of his presidency.