Full Text Obama Presidency April 25, 2015: Transcript of President Obama’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner speech

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 114TH CONGRESS:

Full transcript of President Obama’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner toast

Source: WaPo, 4-25-15

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Good evening, everybody.

Welcome to the White House Correspondents’ dinner. A night when Washington celebrates itself. Somebody’s got to do it. And welcome to the fourth quarter of my presidency. It’s true — that’s Michelle cheering.

The fact is a feel more loose and relaxed than ever. Those Joe Biden shoulder massages they’re like magic. You should try one. Oh, you have.

I am determined to make the most of every moment I have left. After the midterm elections, my advisors asked me “Mr. President, do you have a bucket list?” And I said, ‘Well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.”

Take executive action on immigration. Bucket.

New climate regulations. Bucket. It’s the right thing to do.

My new attitude is paying off. Look at my Cuba policy. The Castro brothers are here tonight. Welcome to America, amigos. Que pasa? What? It’s the Castros from Texas. Oh. Hi, Joaquin. Hi, Julian.

Anyway, being president is never easy. I still have to fix a broken immigration system, issue veto threats, negotiate with Iran. All while finding time to pray five times a day. Which is strenuous.

And it is no wonder that that people keep pointing out how the presidency has aged me. I look so old John Boehner’s already invited Min Yo to speak at my funeral.

Meanwhile, Michelle hasn’t aged a day. I ask her what her secret is and she just says “fresh fruits and vegetables.” It’s aggravating.

Fact is though, at this point my legacy is finally beginning to take shape. The economy is getting better. Nine in ten Americans now have health coverage. Today thanks to Obamacare you no longer have to worry about losing your insurance if you lose your job. You’re welcome, senate democrats.

Look, it is true I have not managed to make everybody happy. Six years into my presidency some people still say I’m arrogant, aloof, condescending. Some people are so dumb. No wonder I don’t meet with them. And that’s not all people say about me. A few weeks ago, Dick Cheney says he thinks I’m the worst president of his lifetime. Which is interesting because I think Dick Cheney is the worst president of my lifetime. Quite a coincidence. I mean everybody’s got something to say these days.

Mike Huckabee recently said people shouldn’t join our military until a true conservative is elected president. Think about that. It was so outrageous 47 Ayatollah wrote us a letter trying to explain to Huckabee how our system works.

It gets worse. Just this week, Michele Bachmann actually predicted that I would bring about the biblical end of days. Now, that’s a legacy. That’s big. I mean, Lincoln, Washington, they didn’t do that.

You know, I just have to put this stuff aside. I have to stay focused on my job. Because for many Americans this is still a time of deep uncertainty. For example, I have one friend just a few weeks ago, she was making millions of dollars a year and she’s now living out of a van in Iowa.

Meanwhile, back here in our nation’s capitol we’re always dealing with new challenges.

I’m happy to report that the Secret Service — thanks to some excellent reporting by white house correspondents — they are focusing on some of the issues that have come up. And, they have finally figured out a full proof way to keep people off my lawn. [image of John McCain] It works. It’s not just fence jumpers. Some of you know, a few months ago, a drone crashed landed out back. That was pretty serious, but don’t worry, we installed a new state-of-the-art security system.[image of Joe Biden] You know, let me set the record straight. I tease Joe Biden, but you know he has been in my side for seven years. I love that man. [applause] He’s not just a great Vice President, he is a great friend. We’ve gotten so close in some places in Indiana, they won’t serve us pizza anymore. [laughter] [applause]

I want to thank our host for the evening, a Chicago girl, the incredibly talented Cecily Strong. [applause] On Saturday Night Live, Cecily impersonates CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin, which is surprising, because usually the only people impersonating journalists on CNN are journalists on CNN. [laughter]

ABC is here with some of the stars from their big new comedy “black-ish.” It’s a great show, but I have to give ABC fair warning, being black-ish only makes you popular for so long. Trust me. There is a shelf life to that thing.

As always, the reporters here had a lot to cover over the last year here on the East Coast. One big story was the brutal winner. The polar vortex caused so many record lows, they renamed it MSNBC.

But, of course, let’s face it, one reporter on everybody’s minds, and that is 2016. Already, we’ve seen some missteps.

It turns out Jeb Bush identified himself as Hispanic back in 2009, which, you know what, I — look, I understand. It’s an innocent mistake. It reminds me of when I identified myself as American back in 1961.

[LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE]

Ted Cruz said that denying the existence of climate change made him like Galileo. Now that’s not really an apt comparison. Galileo believed the Earth revolves around the sun. Ted Cruz believes the Earth revolves around Ted Cruz.

And just as an aside, I want to point out, when a guy who has his face on a Hope poster calls you self-centered, you know you’ve got a problem. The narcissism index is creeping up a little too high.

Meanwhile, Rick Santorum announced that he would not attend the same-sex wedding of a friend or loved one, to which gays and lesbians across the country responded, that’s not going to be a problem. Don’t sweat that one. [LAUGHTER]

And Donald Trump is here. Still.

[LAUGHTER]

Anyway, it’s amazing how time flies. Soon, the first presidential contest will take place, and I for one cannot wait to see who the Koch brothers pick. It’s exciting.

Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, who will finally get that red rose?

[LAUGHTER]

The winner gets a billion dollar war chest. The runner-up gets to be the bachelor on the next season of “The Bachelor.”

I mean seriously, a billion dollars from just two guys. Is it just me, or does that feel a little excessive?

I mean, it’s almost insulting to the candidates. The Koch brothers think they think to spend a billion dollars to get folks to like one of these people. It’s got to hurt their feelings a little bit.

And I know I’ve raised a lot of money too, but in all fairness, my middle name is Hussein. What’s their excuse?

[LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE]

The trail hasn’t been easy for my fellow Democrats either. As we all know Hillary’s private e-mails got her in trouble. Frankly, I thought it was going to be her private Instagram account that was going to cause her bigger problems.

[LAUGHTER]

Hillary kicked things off by going completely unrecognized at a Chipotle. Not to be outdone, Martin O’Malley went completely unrecognized as a Martin O’Malley campaign event. And Bernie Sanders might run. I like Bernie. Bernie’s an interesting guy. Apparently, some folks want to see a pot-smoking socialist in the White House. We could get a third Obama term after all.[LAUGHTER] [APPLAUSE] It could happen.

Anyway, as always, I want to close on a more serious note. You know, I often joke about tensions between me and the press, but honestly, what they say doesn’t bother me. I understand we’ve got an adversarial system. I’m a mellow sort of guy. And that’s why I invited Luther, my anger translator, to join me here tonight.

[APPLAUSE: Keegan-Michael Key joins on stage.]

LUTHER: Hold on to your lily white butts!

OBAMA: In our fast-changing world, traditions like the White House correspondents dinner are important.

LUTHER: I mean, really! What is this dinner? And why am I required to come to it?

Jeb Bush, do you really want to do this!

OBAMA: Because despite our differences, we count on the press to shed light on the most important issues of the day.

LUTHER: And we can count on FOX News to terrify old white people with some non-sense!

LUTHER: (INAUDIBLE)

It’s ridiculous.

OBAMA: We won’t always see eye to eye.

LUTHER: And, CNN, thank you so much for the wall-to-wall Ebola coverage. For two full weeks, we were one step away from “The Walking Dead”. Then y’all got up and just moved on to the next thing. That was awesome.

Oh, and by the way, if you haven’t noticed, you don’t have Ebola!

OBAMA: But I still deeply appreciate the work that you do.

LUTHER: Y’all remember when I had that big old hole in the bottom of the gulf of Mexico, and then I plugged it? Remember that? Which Obama’s Katrina was that one? Was that 19 or was it 20, because I can’t remember.

OBAMA: Protecting our democracy is more important than ever. For example, the Supreme Court ruled that the donor who gave Ted Cruz $6 million was just exercising free speech.

LUTHER: Yes, it’s the kind of speech like this, I just wasted $6 million.

OBAMA: And it’s not just Republicans. Hillary will have to raise huge sums of money too.

LUTHER: Aw yeah, she’s going to get that money! She’s going to get all the money! Khaleesi is coming to Westeros! Watch out! Woo!

OBAMA: The non-stop focus on billionaire donors creates real problems for our democracy.

LUTHER: And that’s why we’re running for our third term!

OBAMA: No, we’re not.

LUTHER: We’re not?

OBAMA: No.

LUTHER: Who the hell said that!

OBAMA: But we need to focus on big challenges like climate changes.

LUTHER: Hey, folks, if you haven’t noticed, California is bone dry. It looks like a trailer for the new “Mad Max” movie up in there. Y’all think that Bradley Cooper came here because he wants to talk to Chuck Todd? He needed a glass of water!

OBAMA: The science is clear, the science is clear. Nine out of the 10 hottest years ever came in the last decade.

LUTHER: Now I’m not a scientist, but I do know how to count to ten.

OBAMA: Rising seas, more violent storms.

LUTHER: You got mosquitoes, sweaty people on the trains stinking it up. It’s just nasty!

OBAMA: I mean, look at what’s happening right now. Every serious scientist says we need to act. The Pentagon says it’s a national security risk. Miami floods on a sunny day and instead of doing anything about it, we’ve got elected officials throwing snowballs in the Senate.

LUTHER: OK, I think they got it.

OBAMA: It is crazy! What about our kids? What kind of stupid, short-sided irresponsible bull —

LUTHER: Whoa, whoa whoa, whoa!

OBAMA: What?

LUTHER: Hey!

OBAMA: What!

LUTHER: All due respect, sir, you don’t need anger translator. You need counseling.

LUTHER: And I’m out of here, man. I ain’t trying to get into all this.

OBAMA: Go.

LUTHER: He crazy.

OBAMA: Luther, my anger translator, ladies and gentlemen.

(APPLAUSE)

Now that I got that off my chest — you know, investigative journalism, explanatory journalism, journalism that exposes corruption and justice gives voice to the different and the marginalized, the voiceless — that’s power. It’s a privilege. It’s as important to America’s trajectory, to our values, our ideals, to anything we could do in elected office.

We remember journalists we lost over the past year. Journalists like Steven Sotloff, and James Foley, murdered for nothing more than trying to shine a light into some of the world’s darkest corners.

We remember the journalists unjustly imprisoned around the world, including our own Jason Rezaian. For nine months, Jason has been imprisoned in Tehran for nothing more than writing about the hopes and the fears of the Iranian people, carrying their stories to the readers of “The Washington Post,” in an effort to bridge our common humanity. As was already mentioned, Jason’s brother Ali is here tonight and I have told him personally, we will not rest until we bring him home to his family safe and sound.

[APPLAUSE]

These journalists and so many others view their work as just a profession, but as a public good, an indispensable pillar of our society, so I want to give a toast to them.

I raise a glass to them and all of you, with the words of the American foreign correspondent Dorothy Thompson.

It is not the fact of liberty but the way in which liberty is exercised that ultimately determines whether liberty itself survives.

Thank you for your devotion to exercising our liberty and to telling our American story. God bless you. God bless the United States of America.

 

 

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Political Headlines June 7, 2010: Helen Thomas Quits White House Correspondent Position After Outrage for Anti-Semitism Remarks

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor / Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & 111TH CONGRESS:

President Obama shared birthday cake with Helen Thomas on August 9, 2009. The day is the birthday for both — Obama turned 48, Thomas turned 89.

THE HEADLINES….

  • Helen Thomas quits: Helen Thomas quit her job with Hearst in the wake of mounting outrage over her assertion that Israeli Jews should “return” to Poland, Germany and the United States.
    “Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately,” said a statement issued Monday by the Hearst Corp. “Her decision came after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet.” – JTA, 6-7-10
  • Helen Thomas retires in flap over Israel remarks: Longtime Washington journalist Helen Thomas abruptly retired Monday as a columnist for Hearst News Service following remarks she made about Israel that were denounced by the White House and her press corps colleagues. AP, 6-7-10
  • Helen Thomas ends 5-decade career in controversy: After more than 50 years covering the White House, journalist Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring immediately from Hearst Newspapers, amid controversy over remarks she recently made about Israel.
    Hearst News Service broke the news Monday, noting that Thomas’ “decision came after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet.”… – AP, 6-7-10
  • Rabbi sat on Thomas scoop as webmaster-son took exams: When veteran journalist Helen Thomas made inflammatory remarks about Israel, the comments weren’t captured by a major news organization. Instead, a rabbi and his 17-year-old son broke the story.
    Right now, Rabbi David Nesenoff is drawing lots of new visitors to RabbiLive.com and its video of the dean of the White House press corps (now abruptly retired) telling Israel to “get the hell out of Palestine.” Although Nesenoff’s site is getting buzz and media pickup, the rabbi actually sat on the big scoop for a week.
    On May 27, Nesenoff attended the Jewish American Heritage Month celebration at the White House with son Adam and a friend of Adam’s. While walking across the front lawn Nesenhoff and the boys saw Thomas, and decided to ask her about her thoughts on Israel…. – AP, 6-7-10
  • Helen Thomas retires: Veteran White House reporter Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately, in the wake of a controversy over her comments on Israel, according to a report from her employer, Hearst News Service.
    Thomas told a rabbi at a White House event last week that Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine” and go back to Germany and Poland.
    “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Thomas said in a statement on her Web site. “They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon.” WaPo, 6-7-10
  • White House press secretary Robert Gibbs assailed Thomas for her words: “Those remarks were offensive and reprehensible,” Gibbs said, noting that Thomas has apologized. Her sentiments “do not reflect certainly most of the people here and certainly not those of the administration.” –
  • The Board of the White House Correspondents Association statement follows:
    Helen Thomas’ comments were indefensible and the White House Correspondents Association board firmly dissociates itself from them. Many in our profession who have known Helen for years were saddened by the comments, which were especially unfortunate in light of her role as a trail blazer on the White House beat.
    While Helen has not been a member of the WHCA for many years, her special status in the briefing room has helped solidify her as the dean of the White House press corps so we feel the need to speak out strongly on this matter.
    We want to emphasize that the role of the WHCA is to represent the White House press corps in its dealings with the White House on coverage-related issues. We do not police the speech of our members or colleagues. We are not involved at all in issuing White House credentials, that is the purview of the White House itself.
    But the incident does revive the issue of whether it is appropriate for an opinion columnist to have a front row seat in the WH briefing room. That is an issue under the jurisdiction of this board. We are actively seeking input from our association members on this important matter, and we have scheduled a special meeting of the WHCA board on Thursday to decide on the seating issue.
    Ed Chen, Bloomberg
    David Jackson, USA Today
    Caren Bohan, Reuters
    Ed Henry, CNN
    Julie Mason, DC Examiner
    Don Gonyea, National Public Radio
    Steve Scully, C-SPAN
    Doug Mills, The New York Times
  • White House correspondent apologizes for Israel remarks: Thomas, 89, the longest-serving reporter in the White House press corps, was asked by the website RabbiLive.com during a May 27 “Jewish Heritage Celebration” at the White House whether she had any “comments on Israel.”
    “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine,” said Thomas, who served for decades as the White House correspondent for United Press International (UPI) and now writes a column for Hearst newspapers.
    “Remember these people are occupied and it’s their land, not German and not Poland,” Thomas said. “They can go home, Poland, Germany, and America and everywhere else.” AFP, 6-7-10
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