President Obama at Radio & Television Correspondents Dinner


THE PRESIDENT:
Before I get started,
as the father of two girls, can I just say how incredibly impressive
those three young ladies were. (applause) Dad would be proud. To Heather and all the others
who have made this evening possible, thank you so much. It is wonderful to be here. I want to express my
appreciation for the opportunity to tell jokes that weren’t funny
enough for me to use when we did this five weeks ago. (laughter) Whatever. (laughter) The jokes may not be as good,
but neither is the guest list. (laughter) I’m just joking. For me, there’s no contest. Why bother hanging out with
celebrities when I can spend time with the people
who made me one? (laughter) I know where my
bread is buttered. Plus, we have our own
luminaries here in attendance. The junior senator from
Wyoming, John Barasso, is here. (applause) I’m sorry, John Barasso
skipped this evening. (laughter) Let me tell you, though, for
those who haven’t met him, John Barasso is the George Clooney
of junior senators from Wyoming. (laughter) It is great to be here with so
much talent from the world of TV and radio. Despite the flood of new media,
I think your programming is more relevant than ever before. At least, that’s the impression
I get when I read the blogs every day. (laughter) It’s good to see a number of
hardworking correspondents here tonight. Journalists like Chuck Todd. I think I spotted Chuck
over there somewhere. (applause) At this dinner, Chuck embodies
the best of both worlds: He has the rapid-fire style of a
television correspondent, and the facial hair of a
radio correspondent. (laughter) Mika Brzezinski is here,
I believe, in the house. (applause) Mika and I have
a lot in common. We both have partners named Joe
who used to be in Congress and don’t know when to stop talking. (laughter) And happening now:
Wolf Blitzer is here. (applause) He’s the only man — the only
other man in America with his own Situation Room. (laughter) People assume that mine is
cooler, but this is not the case. As hard as we’ve tried, we have
not been able to generate the bandwidth necessary to turn
Larry Summers into a hologram. (laughter) We can’t do it. Now, one person that you know
could not be here tonight is Secretary Hillary Clinton. As most of you know, Hillary
broke her elbow a few days ago on her way to the White House. And we all wish her a
very speedy recovery. I do have to say, though, that
while it’s been reported as an accident, there were
some suspicious circumstances. (laughter) Just before the incident,
Secret Service spotted Richard Holbrooke spraying WD-40
— (laughter)– all over the driveway. (laughter) So now, on top of the costs of
health care and energy and the recovery plan, we’ve got
another fiscal problem. Fortunately, the lawyers tell me
that Hillary is ready to settle. (laughter) I have to admit, though, it
wasn’t easy coming up with fresh material for this dinner. A few nights ago, I was up
tossing and turning, trying to figure out exactly what to say. Finally, when I couldn’t get
back to sleep, I rolled over and asked Brian Williams
what he thought. (Laughter and applause) Now, the truth is, BrianWilliams
is actually a terrible house guest. He put an empty milk
carton back in the fridge. He leaves his wet towels all
over the Roosevelt Room. We’re pretty sure he clogged the
toilet and didn’t tell anybody. (laughter) Although I must say, the
whole thing was worth it. “Inside the Obama White House”
is my favorite new show. (laughter) There’s just something really
compelling about the main character. (laughter) It’s wonderful narrative. In fact, the show has been such
a hit that all of you guys now want to come and
tape one in my house. ABC is planning a series called
“Dancing with the Czars.” (laughter) TLC has got something called
“John & Kate plus Peter Orszag.” (laughter) That’s going to be good. (laughter) Nick at Nite has a new take
on an old classic, “Leave it to
Uigurs.” I thought that
was pretty good. (laughter) Of course, given the fiscal
crisis in California, these shows all will be
competing directly with Governor Schwarzenegger’s
new reality series, “I’m a Celebrity — Get
Me Out of Here!” (laughter and applause.) That’s how I feel tonight. (laughter) Look, it’s nothing personal,
but this dinner conflicts with my date night. (laughter) I was supposed to be going out
with Michelle for Thai food. In Bangkok. (laughter and applause) But I have been doing
a lot of traveling. I just returned from a
trip abroad, as you know. In Egypt, we had the opportunity
to tour the Pyramids. By now I’m sure all of you have
seen the pictures of Rahm on a camel. I admit I was a little nervous
about the whole situation. I said at the time, “This is a wild animal known to
bite and kick and spit. And who knows what
the camel might do?” (laughter) But I have to say, as I
traveled to all these countries, I saw firsthand how much people
truly have in common with one another. Because no matter where I went,
there’s one thing I heard over and over again from every world
leader: “No thanks, but have you
considered Palau?” (laughter) Of course, most of my
attention has been focused here back home. As you know, we’ve been working
around the clock to repair our major financial institutions
and our auto companies. But you probably wouldn’t
understand the concept of troubled industries, working
as you do in the radio and television. AUDIENCE: Oooh! THE PRESIDENT: Oh — we
don’t joke about that, huh? (laughter) That’s not funny. (laughter) One problem we’re trying to
solve is the high cost of health
care in America. And I’m pleased that in our
quest to reform the health care system I’ve gained the support
of the American Medical
Association. It proves true the old
expression that it’s easier to catch flies with honey. And if honey doesn’t work, feel
free to use an open palm and a swift, downward movement. (laughter and applause) Now, the challenges we face
are many, and I’ll be honest — I don’t have all the answers. And when I’m not sure what’s
right, I often ask myself, “WWLD?” What would a wise Latino do? I’m proud of my nominee,
Sonia Sotomayor. (applause) And all those who oppose
her, to all those who say that there’s no place for empathy
on the bench, I say this: I completely understand
how you’re feeling. (laughter) When you’re upset, I’m upset. (laughter) Another difficult challenge
is how to help our automakers thrive in the 21st century. We’ve tried a number of
different approaches, and tonight, I’m
announcing a new one. It’s a plan passed on to me by a
close friend and advisor,
Oprah Winfrey. So if each of you will look
under your seat, you find that — (laughter)– you
get a car company! (laughter) You get a car company! And FOX — you get AIG. (laughter) Enjoy! The truth is, as I’ve said all along,
I have no ambition to run an auto company. I’m not the salesman-in-chief. And GM will rise or fall on the
quality of its products — like the taut, athletic design
of the new Buick Enclave. (laughter) It’s French-seamed leather and
warm wood tones make the Enclave more than transportation. (applause) It’s a modern
driver’s retreat. (laughter) Come on, work with me here. I’ve got cars to move, people! (applause) In all seriousness, despite
the jokes I’ve told, I’m here tonight because
I appreciate the work that all of you do
and the role that you play. You report the news as it
happens, and you’re covering history as it’s made. With a handheld camera or a mic,
or now even a cell phone or a blog, you bring the truth to
people and allow people to bring truth to the world. We’re seeing that now
as history is unfolding. In the sounds and images
broadcast from Iran over the last week, we’ve seen
professional and citizen journalists act as a voice for
those who want to be heard, bearing witness to universal
aspirations of democracy and freedom. Often at great risk, and
sometimes with great sacrifice, they do it because the rest of
us need to hear the stories that they tell. In recent years, we’ve seen the
same courageous reporting in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and the
Congo, and in every dangerous
corner of the world. And everywhere there’s a
story that needs to be told. I think all of you understand
these are changing times. As journalists, you understand
that better than anyone. But one thing that will never
change is the need to report the news as it happens,
wherever it happens. This is what you do; and this
is what will help us meet the challenges of our time. We are grateful to you for that. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless
the United States of America. (applause)

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