A Stand-Up President

President Barack Obama had his first official presidential stand-up moment at Saturday night’s Alfalfa dinner, which is not a description of the menu but instead a club of Washington business and political elite.

The club apparently exists for its annual dinner/roast, and OBama did not disappoint, taking aim at a pair of R.E.’s–Robert E. Lee and Rahm Emanual (Sorry, Ted Turner, who is another R.E).

The dinner was originally launched in the early part of the last century as an annual celebration of Lee’s birthday, but that didn’t get the former confederate general off the hook.

According to excerpts of the president’s remarks supplied by the White House, he took gentle, or not, aim at Lee.

“I know that many you are aware that this dinner began almost one hundred years ago as a way to celebrate the birthday of General Robert E. Lee,” he said. “If he were here with us tonight, the General would be 202 years old. And very confused.”

It was unclear whether that was a reference to his age, or the fact that he was being gently skewered by the first African American president, my guess is the latter.

Obama then took aim at his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who has a reputation for the kind of colorful language that the FCC takes issue with as a bad influence on kids.

 ”Now, this hasn’t been reported yet, but it was actually Rahm’s idea to do the swearing-in ceremony again,” the president said, referring to the fact that he had to have Chief Justice John Roberts swear him in a second time, just in case, after the Chief Justice muffed it the first time around. “Of course, for Rahm, every day is a swearing-in ceremony.” Bad da bum, bum, pish!

“But don’t believe what you read,” continued the president. “Rahm Emanuel is a real sweetheart. No, it’s true. Every week the guy takes a little time away to give back to the community. Just last week he was at a local school, teaching profanity to poor children.” Hmmmm. Even members of the administration are encouraging kids to use language on the playground that wouldn’t make it on broadcast TV.

The Internet president also made sport of the tough time he had holding on to his Blackberry–he has been given one that is nearly unhackable, we’re told.

“[T]hese are the kind of negotiations you have to deal with as President,” he said. “In just the first few weeks, I’ve had to engage in some of the toughest diplomacy of my life.  And that was just to keep my Blackberry.  I finally agreed to limit the number of people who could email me. It’s a very exclusive list. How exclusive? Everyone look at the person sitting on your left, Now look at the person sitting on your right,  None of you have my email address.”  

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.