Obama rolls with punchlines at press dinner

US president pokes fun at critics, media and himself at annual White House Correspondents' Association bash.

    Obama rolls with punchlines at press dinner
    Obama jokes about his plans for a radical second-term evolution from "strapping young Muslim Socialist" to retiree golfer [AFP]

    President Barack Obama has joked about his plans for a radical second-term evolution from "strapping young Muslim Socialist" to retiree golfer, all with a new hairstyle like that sported by first lady Michelle Obama.

    Obama used this year's annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner to poke fun at himself and some of his political adversaries, asking if it was still possible to be brought down a peg after four-and-a-half years as commander-in-chief.

    Entering to the rap track "All I Do Is Win" by DJ Khaled, Obama joked about how re-election would allow him to unleash a radical agenda. But then he showed a picture of himself golfing on a mock magazine cover of "Senior Leisure".

    "I'm not the strapping young Muslim Socialist that I used to be," the president remarked on Saturday, and then recounted his recent two-for-22 basketball shooting performance at the White House Easter Egg hunt.

    Celebrity audience

    But Obama's most dramatic shift for the next four years appeared to be aesthetic. He presented a montage of shots featuring him with bangs similar to those sometimes worn by his wife.

    Obama closed by noting the nation's recent tragedies in Massachusetts and Texas, praising Americans of all stripes from first responders to local journalists for serving the public good.

    Saturday night's banquet not far from the White House attracted the usual assortment of stars from Hollywood and beyond. Actors Kevin Spacey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Claire Danes, who play government characters on series, were among the attendees, as was Korean entertainer Psy. Several cabinet members, governors and members of Congress were present.

    And despite coming at a sombre time, nearly two weeks after the deadly Boston Marathon bombing and 10 days after a devastating fertiliser plant explosion in West, Texas, the president and political allies and rivals alike took the opportunity to enjoy some humour. Late-night talk-show host Conan O'Brien headlined the event.

    'Minority outreach'

    Some of Obama's jokes came at his Republican rivals' expense. He asked that the Republican's minority outreach begin with him as a "trial run" and said he would take his recent charm offensive with Republicans on the road, including to a book-burning event with Michele Bachmann.

    Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson would have had better success getting Obama out of office if he simply offered the president $100m to drop out of last year's race, Obama quipped.

    And on the 2016 election, the president noted in self-referential irony that potential Republican candidate Senator Marco Rubio was not qualified because he hasn't even served a full term in the Senate. Obama served less than four years of his six-year Senate term before he was elected president in 2008.

    The gala also was an opportunity for six journalists, including Associated Press White House Correspondent Julie Pace, to be honoured for their coverage of the presidency and national issues.

    The New Yorker's Ryan Lizza won the Aldo Beckman Award, which recognises excellence in the coverage of the presidency.

    Pace won the Merriman Smith Award for a print journalist for coverage on deadline.

    ABC's Terry Moran was the winner of the broadcast Merriman Smith Award for deadline reporting.

    Reporters Jim Morris, Chris Hamby and Ronnie Greene of the Center for Public Integrity won the Edgar A. Poe Award for coverage of issues of national significance.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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