Watch Donald Trump react to the commander-in-chief's digs at his would-be 2012 GOP rivals, birthers, and "The Donald"Freud posited that humor is a mechanism for articulating what society represses, and boy did President Obama have fun with the usually unsaid at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton hotel last night. His remarks tweaking his Republican rivals and the smears and rumors he has face about his birthplace were hilarious and biting -- and allowed the president the rare pleasure of being able to smear back and talk smack in return.
Obama's presentation at the dinner, the association's 97th, began with a video that could have been produced by Tim Pawlenty's exploratory campaign or "The Colbert Report" it was so theatrically patriotic. Set to the tune of Rick Derringer's 1985 "I am a real American" -- a song produced for the WWF's "The Wrestling Album" that went on to become Hulk Hogan's signature -- the video alternated thumping pictures of Obama's long-form Hawaiian birth certificate with images of eagles, monster trucks, sports heroes and iconic images of fictional American fighters such as Rocky and the Karate Kid.
And that set the tone for the evening, where birther jokes and jokes at the expense of birther Donald Trump, who let a pained smirk slip into at least one full smile while seated at the central table of The Washington Post during the president's speech, predominated.
It was the first of three videos the White House presented at the dinner. "Tonight, for the first time, I am releasing my official birth video," the president set up his second clip, the scene of the birth of Simba the lion in the 1994 Disney animated cartoon "The Lion King."
Amusing, because of course the movie takes place in a Disneyfied version of a Kenyan national park, but also because in the scene where the newborn cub is lifted to the heavens they part and the light streams down in precisely the manner Hillary Clinton once mocked as the attitude of Obama supporters, saying in 2008, "Now I could stand up here and say, let's get everybody together, let's get unified the sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing."
As Obama himself noted in the speech, "when it comes to my presidency, the honeymoon is over."
The president also took some real swipes at his potential rivals with a series of how do you like them apples jokes. "Michele Bachmann is here, though, I understand, and she is thinking about running for President, which is weird because I hear she was born in Canada," he quipped. "Yes, Michele, this is how it starts."
To Tim Pawlenty: "He seems all American. But have you heard his real middle name? Tim 'Hosni' Pawlenty? What a shame."
Of "My buddy, our outstanding ambassador, Jon Huntsman": "Now, there's something you might not know about Jon. He didn't learn to speak Chinese to go there. Oh no. He learned English to come here."
And then there was Trump. "No one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald," Obama said. "And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter -- like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?"
The third video, below, had some fun at the expense of Joe "Say Anything" Biden and the president's own reliance on the teleprompter.
Obama's full remarks follow:
All right, everybody, please have a seat. (Applause.)
My fellow Americans. (Laughter and applause.) Mahalo! (Laughter.) It is wonderful to be here at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. What a week. (Laughter.) As some of you heard, the state of Hawaii released my official long-form birth certificate. (Applause.)
Hopefully this puts all doubts to rest. But just in case there are any lingering questions, tonight I'm prepared to go a step further. (Laughter.) Tonight, for the first time, I am releasing my official birth video. (Laughter.)
Now, I warn you -- (laughter) -- no one has seen this footage in 50 years, not even me. But let's take a look.
("Secret Birth Video" plays.) (Applause.)
Oh, well. Back to square one. (Laughter.) I want to make clear to the Fox News table: That was a joke. (Laughter.) That was not my real birth video. (Laughter.) That was a children's cartoon. (Laughter.) Call Disney if you don't believe me. (Laughter.) They have the original long-form version. (Laughter.)
Anyway, it's good to be back with so many esteemed guests. Celebrities. Senators. Journalists. Essential government employees. (Laughter.) Non-essential government employees. (Laughter.) You know who you are. (Laughter.)
I am very much looking forward to hearing Seth Meyers tonight. (Applause.) He's a young, fresh face who can do no wrong in the eyes of his fans. Seth, enjoy it while it lasts. (Laughter.)
Yes, I think it is fair to say that when it comes to my presidency, the honeymoon is over. (Laughter.) For example, some people now suggest that I'm too professorial. And I'd like to address that head-on, by assigning all of you some reading that will help you draw your own conclusions. (Laughter.) Others say that I'm arrogant. But I've found a really great self-help tool for this: my poll numbers. (Laughter.)
I've even let down my key core constituency: movie stars. Just the other day, Matt Damon -- I love Matt Damon, love the guy -- Matt Damon said he was disappointed in my performance. Well, Matt, I just saw "The Adjustment Bureau," so -- (laughter) -- right back atcha, buddy. (Laughter and applause.)