The annual White House Correspondent’s Dinner was held Saturday evening in Washington, D.C. and most of the fanfare surrounding it was about President Donald Trump not attending.
In fact, it was more than just the president not attending. Pres. Trump, who has claimed that this country’s journalists were an “enemy” to their country, knew he could not attend lest he be thoroughly roasted, as they have roasted Pres. Ronald Reagan, Pres. George H.W. Bush, Pres. Bill Clinton, Pres. George W. Bush and Pres. Barack Obama in the past.
And each of those presidents has taken the joke – and had the last word at that dinner.
Whether you like Pres. Trump’s first 100 days in office or not, I think we all realize our current president needs to work a bit more on laughing at himself.
More than a few of you have wanted my response to national politics and the president – especially after a few of Travis Naughton’s recent columns.
I know more about Eagles soccer player Faryn Griffin’s ability to score a goal from 20-yards out.
I’m cynical about nearly all national politicians, but don’t pay as much attention as I should. I like that Trump listens to Republican Senators when it comes to curtailing OSHA regulations. That will help small business. I don’t like it that he wastes time and energy picking fights via Twitter. I like that he has actually given the press more access than he cares to admit, I don’t like that he works to divide our country in order to please his political base.
In other words, like most politicians, I guess Pres. Trump is a lot like the jar of Planter’s mixed nuts in my desk drawer – I enjoy the pistachios and cashews, can’t stand the Brazil nuts.
But the White House Correspondent’s Dinner is a lot more than jokes and the president.
The White House Correspondents Dinner gives a chance for national news agencies to come together as one, hand out some well-deserved awards and hand out scholarships.
In fact, there were 23 scholarships handed out – more than $90,000 worth. Ten of those scholarship recipients were to students from the University of Missouri. Those kids were from places like Mountain Grove, Mo., Gulf Shores, Ala. and Alpharetta, Ga. No other university had more than three winners – Mizzou had 10. That, to me, is an important point about the White House Correspondents Dinner which most people miss.
But there was also this:
During his closing comedy routine, Hasan Minhaj, an American comedian of Indian descent – a Muslim at that – did a great job of being funny.
“Nobody wanted this gig – that’s why they gave it to an immigrant,” Minhaj said to laughter.
He made fun of himself as well as: USA Today, the Russians, Fox News and CNN. He really went after CNN – funny stuff.
He made fun of Hillary Clinton. Journalists, Sean Spicer and Wolf Blitzer all were smacked down by the comedian.
Minahaj made fun of Trump’s tan, but not so much on his policies. He did note that the media needs to lay off Trump and his frequent golf outings.
“Do you know what he’s not doing when he’s golfing,” Minhaj asked, “being President. Let the man putt-putt.”
Breathe easy, Frank Burkett. It was a comedian. It was all in fun.
But Minhaj hit the nail on the head when he noted that Saturday’s dinner was about a free press and defending the First Amendment.
“This event is about celebrating free speech,” the comedian said soberly. “Free speech is the foundation of an open democracy. Only in America can a first generation, Indian-Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the president. It’s a sign to the rest of the world that even the president is not beyond the reach of the First Amendment.”
Amen to that. And thank a veteran for protecting those rights.