Like his predecessors, President Barack Obama used the services of professional comedy writers to roast political enemies and allies alike at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. But other presidents lacked the timing and delivery of President Obama. Here are some examples:
Michael Steele (2009)
Like President Obama, Michael Steele is a political pioneer. In 2003, Steele became the first African American elected to statewide office in Maryland as lieutenant governor. Six years later, the Republican National Committee elected him RNC chair. As party chair, his job was to oppose President Obama, which he did. At the 2009 Correspondents’ Dinner, the president shot back with a joke about Steele’s frequent attempts to use slang to make the Republican Party appear more approachable to people of color.
Jonas Brothers (2010)
With his daughters, Sasha and Malia, maturing and getting a lot of attention, President Obama shot a salvo to warn potential suitors. In 2010, he cautioned the Jonas Brothers, and others, not to “get any ideas.”
Donald Trump (2011)
Donald Trump had led the birther movement and perpetuated the lie that the president was born outside the United States. President Obama relented in 2011 and released his original long-form birth certificate to silence the movement. The president seized the opportunity at the 2011 dinner to mock Trump, making what is probably his most memorable shot.
Hillary Clinton (2012)
Hillary Clinton is a former political rival who became an ally. But their friendship didn’t spare Clinton from the president’s sharp wit. In 2012, he joked about his secretary of state shown in viral images partying with colleagues in Cartagena, Colombia, for the Summit of the Americas.
Mitch McConnell & Michele Bachmann (2013)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was an Obama foe from day one. The Republican leader made it known that his job was not to work with the president but make sure he has just one term in office. In the House, former Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann was a constant critic of the president, even suggesting that God used the 2016 Brussels terrorist attack to humiliate President Obama. The president took aim at them at the 2013 dinner.
John Boehner (2014)
Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner had a turbulent relationship with President Obama. He opposed just about all the president’s initiatives, from health care reform to immigration. When House Republicans turned on Boehner, the president didn’t hesitate to poke fun at his situation.
Dick Cheney (2015)
Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who led the false weapons of mass destruction charge that resulted in the Iraq invasion, had the nerve to call Obama the “worse president in my lifetime.” The president swung back in 2015.
Obama’s Final Joke (2016)
Like all great comedians, President Obama ended his last dinner on this strong note.