by DANNY RUBIN
When the going gets tough…laugh it off.
President Obama did just that on Saturday night at the Gridiron press club, a white-tie dinner in DC where journalists and politicians make fun of each other. The Gridiron is kind of like the White House Correspondents Dinner, except no one has ever heard of it.
This April at the Correspondents Dinner…Conan!
Throughout the Gridiron speech, the president mocked his own policies, his relationship with the press and the budget sequester. Do the jokes from Obama make our nations’ problems — or the presidents’ critics — go away? Hardly.
Still, Obama’s comedy routine is a great example of how to handle naysayers. Make fun of yourself, be transparent about your challenges and don’t let people think the stress is breaking you down.
Here are 11 jokes from Obama’s Gridiron speech that prove the president can handle criticism.
1. “My joke writers have been placed on furlough. I know a lot of you reported that no one will feel any immediate impact because of the sequester — well, you’re about to find out how wrong you are.”
2. “Of course, there’s one thing in Washington that didn’t get cut — the length of this dinner. Yet more proof that the sequester makes no sense.”
3. I’ve been trying to explain this situation to the American people, but clearly I am not perfect. After a very public mix-up last week, my communications team has provided me with an easy way to distinguish between Star Trek and Star Wars. Spock is what Maureen Dowd calls me. Darth Vader is what John Boehner calls me.
Relationship with the press
4. “Some of you have said that I’m ignoring the Washington press corps — that we’re too controlling. You know what, you were right. I was wrong and I want to apologize in a video you can watch exclusively at whitehouse.gov.”
5. While we’re on this subject, I want to acknowledge Ed Henry, who is here — who is the fearless leader of the Washington press corps now. (Applause.) And at Ed’s request, tonight I will take one question from the press. Jay, do we have a question? Surprisingly, it’s a question from Ed Henry. “Mr. President, will you be taking any questions tonight?” I’m happy to answer that. No, Ed, I will not.
The president’s free time
6. “I have my top advisers working around the clock. After all, my March Madness bracket isn’t going to fill itself out. And don’t worry — there is an entire team in the situation room as we speak, planning my next golf outing, right now at this moment.”
On the 2012 election
7. Now I’m sure that you’ve noticed that there’s somebody very special in my life who is missing tonight, somebody who has always got my back, stands with me no matter what and gives me hope no matter how dark things seem. So tonight, I want to publicly thank my rock, my foundation — thank you, Nate Silver.
Relationship with the GOP
8. I’m also doing what I can to smooth things over with Republicans in Congress. In fact, these days John McCain and I are spending so much time together that he told me we were becoming friends. I said, “John, stop. Chuck Hagel warned me how this ends up.”
9. With all these new faces, it’s hard to keep track of who is in, who is out. And I know it’s difficult for you guys as reporters. But I can offer you an easy way of remembering the new team. If Ted Cruz calls somebody a communist, then you know they’re in my cabinet.
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© 2013, Danny Rubin
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