Nine years after he made his Gridiron Club dinner debut as a fresh-faced young senator, President Barack Obama took the podium again on Saturday night, sounding wistful about the passage of time. “Just a few years ago I could never imagine being in my 50s,” he mused. “And when it comes to my approval ratings, I still can’t.”
No, seriously, folks. Remember, he told the white-tie crowd of elite journalists, when he was considered the tech-savvy hipster in the executive mansion? But now, “Hillary has a server in her house!” he exclaimed. “I didn’t even know you could have one of those. I am so far behind.”
Only in Washington does this scene not necessarily strike people as strange: hundreds of reporters hobnobbing with the government officials they normally cover in an evening of fine dining and parody songs that make “Weird Al” Yankovic seem hip. Oh, and even though it’s an event thrown by a group of journalists, guests are told not to spoil the fun by publishing anything.
The dinner is a love letter to a Washington that never really existed – a romanticised place where politicians share an abiding respect for each other, the press and the political process. If it was ever true, it’s certainly not now – but it must be nice to pretend for a few hours. THE WASHINGTON POSTReuse content