Obama: Eight years, eight jokes (almost)

Luther, anger translator, with ObamaImage copyright
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On Saturday evening in Washington, Barack Obama will attend his last White House Correspondents’ Association dinner as president.

The black-tie affair is an annual gathering of politicians, journalists, celebrities and other notables from Washington and beyond. The highlight of the evening is the president’s speech, during which he makes fun of himself, his allies and his opponents, often in equal measure.

Mr Obama has not spared many from his zingers in past years – and that includes current Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump.

He’s also returned to a few common threads throughout his presidency: jokes about his “birth country” (Kenya, as some critics falsely claim), and the challenges of facing a hostile Republican Congress.

Here’s a look at some of Mr Obama’s best lines and sharpest jabs from the past seven White House Correspondents Dinners, and the political context in which they were delivered.

2015: Political opponents

Media caption2015: Considering his legacy

“Welcome to the fourth quarter of my presidency,” Mr Obama said in 2015, noting his wife, Michelle, was cheering the loudest.

Mr Obama spent a good portion of the speech picking on conservatives and their efforts to block him in the last two years of his presidency.

“[Former Republican representative] Michele Bachmann predicted I’d bring about a Biblical end-of-days,” Mr Obama said, shaking his head. “Now that’s a legacy.”

2014: Midterms

Media caption2014: Mid-term elections in Washington

As races in Congress heated up in spring 2014, Mr Obama made reference to his sinking poll numbers and Democrats worrying about a negative effect on their own elections.

“Sasha needed a speaker at Career Day and she asked Bill Clinton,” Mr Obama said of his youngest daughter. “I was a little hurt.”

He also made the first reference to a likely presidential run by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

2013: Healthcare.gov and “rookie mistakes”

Media caption2013: Time for a reset

In the middle of a problematic roll out for the website for Mr Obama’s healthcare law, Mr Obama needled himself about “rookie mistakes” – including commenting on California Attorney General Kamala Harris’s looks.

Mr Obama also mocked some media companies, saying “BuzzFeed” used to be “something I did in college at 2am” and comparing his recent horrendous free throw session (two out of 22) as less reliable than broadcaster NBC’s record with successful programmes.

2012: Re-election

Media caption2012: What’s different four years on?

While the Republican candidates for the presidency in 2012 were still battling in the primaries, Mr Obama singled out front-runner (and eventual nominee) Mitt Romney to compare educations. Two degrees from Harvard instead of one? “Snob” Mr Obama joked.

The president also opened his 2012 speech with a nod to the year before.

“In fact this very weekend last year, we finally delivered justice to one of the world’s most notorious individuals.”

Mr Obama had announced the death of Osama bin Laden the day after the 2011 Correspondents Dinner. But the picture on the screen behind him in 2012? Donald Trump.

Media caption2012: President Obama jokes about Mitt Romney

2011: Long-form birth certificate

Media caption2011: President Obama mixed comedy with some early campaigning

After Donald Trump pressed Mr Obama for his long-form birth certificate (three years after Mr Obama had been elected), Mr Obama did so, and then took it to Mr Trump at the 2011 dinner.

The businessman was in the audience – and he wasn’t laughing.

2010: Bad ‘ratings’

In year two of Mr Obama’s administration, he noted his approval ratings were dropping from highs right after his election, but was still using material that referred back to the 2008 campaign.

The president also made reference to struggling banks and the US attempt to shore them up after a market crash. “All our jokes tonight are brought to you by Goldman Sachs,” He said. “They make money whether you laugh or not.”

2009: First Hundred Days

Media caption2009: Obama at his first White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Mr Obama’s first correspondents dinner came shortly after he had finished his first 100 days in office – a milestone which many campaigns use to fulfil promises.

He took the opportunity to remind people what the new Obama administration had already done – and make light of an expensive situation for the US – the government bailout of General Motors, a major automotive firm.

“Just last week, Car and Driver named me auto executive of the year,” Mr Obama said.

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