No Joke, Politicians Mock Themselves At Washington Gridiron Dinner

By Evan Harris

Mar 13, 2011 11:38am

ABC News' Amy Walter reports: 

President Barack Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) will never be mistaken for Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. But, at Saturday night's Gridiron Dinner all proved that they've got a pretty good sense of humor — and timing.

In a cramped low ceiling ballroom just a few blocks from the White House, official Washington and the people who cover them traded their pinstripes for white tie and tails for the 126th Gridiron Dinner. This exclusive media club, which only admitted women in the mid 1970's, meets every spring to eat, drink and roast each other in speeches, songs and skits. The motto: "singe but don't burn."

While the President and his potential 2012 Republican opponent Daniels gently jabbed each other, another potential 2012 candidate – former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney – was the most frequent butt of the jokes by the journalists and politicians. Romney, who wasn't in attendance, was mocked for his uncomfortable attempts to explain his support for a Massachusetts health care law that has become a serious liability in the Republican primary.

Daniels also got in some good licks on his potential opponents for the Republican nomination. Wearing a sling, Daniels joked that he really wasn't recovering from rotator cuff surgery. Instead, he said, he got stuck with in a middle seat on a trip back from a governors conference between hefty GOP Governors Haley Barbour (Miss) and Chris Christie (N.J.).

President Obama got huge laughs when he instructed the Marine Corps band to replace "Hail to The Chief" with "Born In The U.S.A."  And,  Sebelius managed to work in a jab at herself and Daniels when she noted that "we're both Midwestern governors, we've both been cabinet secretaries and neither of us is going to be president in 2012."

The journalists also got in some good digs on the politicians they cover. A skit about Speaker John Boehner's troubles corralling his Tea Party colleagues featured the song "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to." (President Obama went on to note that the reason for Boehner's orange like skin tone is due not to tanning booths but "rust" from all those tears). 

A gun-toting red sequined dress wearing "Sarah Palin" sang "to tweet the unthoughtable tweet," to the tune of "To Dream The Impossible Dream," And, "Senator John McCain" was featured in Lone Ranger garb with "Senator Lindsey Graham" as his Tonto.Most important, the dinner, which has been known to drag into the wee hours, finished at a respectable 10:30 p.m., allowing the President and the assembled press corps, to get home in time to get some sleep before hosting or watching or joining the Sunday morning TV shows

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