WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama opened his last White House Correspondents’ Association dinner speech Saturday with Anna Kendrick’s hit, “You’re Going to Miss Me When I’m Gone.” “You know it’s true,” he teased, and in closing deliberately dropped his microphone and said simply: “Obama out.”
The end of the line was Obama’s theme.
His speech played off the dwindling number of months he has left in his presidency.
Indeed, in one video skit, Obama gets advice for his post-presidential life from Vice President Joe Biden, busy polishing his aviator sunglasses, and former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who hilariously tried to tempt Obama with a cigarette while the two killed time watching a movie in the White House theater.
If only Obama and Boehner — great hams both — could have done this years ago, would the partisanship that has marked Obama’s tenure been different? Or maybe their video chemistry only worked because Boehner is gone and Obama is on his way out. Anyway, I digress.
Obama wrapped up eight years of speeches to this dinner, where Hollywood stars, celebs from various worlds and political figures of both parties assemble each year in a giant ballroom along with journalists ranging from star anchors to beat reporters.
Obama is a slick comedian: His timing, his facial expressions, his shrugs and his material is always sharp. He aimed zingers Saturday at Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton — who were not there — and Bernie Sanders, who attended this most establishment of establishment events with his wife, Jane.
Sanders wore a suit, not a tux at this black tie affair, and he seemed to enjoy the Hollywood fandom attention and selfie requests he was getting from guests at the pre-dinner receptions and in the ballroom.
Obama is a very hard act to follow.
Larry Wilmore, the host of Comedy Central’s “The Nightly Show” and the headliner this year, limped along. Maybe folks watching on TV found it funnier.
In the end, when Wilmore was honoring the nation’s first black president, he used a variation of the “N” word — too edgy and over the line.
Obama noted that Wilmore’s parents, “who are from Evanston, which is a great town,” were in the audience.
And now, here are some of Obama’s best lines:
As the first black president, some self-mocking: “I do apologize — I know I was a little late tonight. I was running on C.P.T., which stands for “jokes that white people should not make.”
Alluding to Clinton’s big fees for her Wall Street speeches: “If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans. That’s right.”
Getting older: “I am gray and grizzled, just counting down the days ’til my death panel. Hillary once questioned whether I’d be ready for a 3 a.m. phone call — now I’m awake anyway because I’ve got to go to the bathroom. I’m up.”
Ribbing first lady Michelle: “The prospect of leaving the White House is a mixed bag. You might have heard that someone jumped the White House fence last week, but I have to give Secret Service credit — they found Michelle, brought her back, she’s safe back at home now.”
“Aunt” Hillary: “You’ve got to admit it, though, Hillary trying to appeal to young voters is a little bit like your relative just signed up for Facebook. “Dear America, did you get my poke?” “Is it appearing on your wall?” “I’m not sure I am using this right. Love, Aunt Hillary.”
Zapping Sanders: “Bernie, you look like a million bucks. Or to put it in terms you’ll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of 27 dollars each.”
• Is this dinner too tacky for The Donald? What could he possibly be doing instead? Is he at home, eating a Trump Steak? Tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel?”
• “. . . in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world: Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan.”
• “. . . there’s one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable — and that’s closing Guantanamo. Because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground.
That’s it. There’s no next year.