WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama had a ready excuse for anyone who didn’t think he was funny enough at Saturday night’s Gridiron dinner: “My joke writers have been furloughed.”
Always a target for humorous barbs, the president tossed out a few of his own during the Gridiron Club and Foundation dinner, an annual event that features political leaders, journalists and media executives poking fun at each other.
The so-called sequester that struck the federal budget this month drew another observation from Obama: “There is only one thing in Washington that didn’t get cut — the length of this dinner. ... More proof that the sequester doesn’t make sense.”
Vice President Joe Biden’s ambitions? “I had to take Joe aside,” the president said, telling him, “You are way too young to be the pope.”
During a pause in his remarks, Obama took a long, slow sip of water and then said, “That, Marco Rubio, is how you take a sip of water.”
The dinner was the organization’s 128th since its founding in 1885. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar represented the Democrats while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal cracked wise for the Republicans.
Klobuchar joked that Obama had aged in office. “His Secret Service name used to be ‘Renegade,”’ she said. “Now it’s ‘50 Shades of Gray.”’
Jindal took a poke at Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, telling the audience that Romney had warned him that “47 percent of you can’t take a joke.” Referring to his own prospects for a presidential run, Jindal asked, “What chance does a skinny guy with a dark complexion have of being elected president?”
Political disputes and feuds between politicians and the news media provided plenty of fodder for jokes and Gridiron parodies. There was Obama’s sometimes frosty relationship with the news media, the internal struggles roiling the Republican Party, and journalist Bob Woodward’s dustup with White House economic adviser Gene Sperling. He advised Woodward in an email that the veteran Watergate reporter would regret his reporting about the forced spending cuts called a sequester.