"Mr President, if your hair gets any whiter, the Tea Party is going to endorse it"

Barack Obama pokes fun at Donald Trump at the White House Correspondents' Dinner -- and gets mocked

Here's an American political tradition I wish we'd adopt -- the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Every year, the US president gives a funny speech to the press corps and gets "roasted" by a comedian in return. Sometimes, the cracks are really near the knuckle (in 2006, Stephen Colbert destroyed George Bush in a turn that is both brilliant and incredibly uncomfortable to watch).

Barack Obama is, predictably, rather good at the whole thing. He also benefited this year from the open goal that was "birtherism", making several cracks at the expense of Fox News and Donald Trump.

"Donald Trump is here tonight," said Obama. "And I know that he's taken some flak lately. But no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than 'The Donald'. 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?"

He went on: "On a recent episode of the The Celebrity Apprentice at the steakhouse, the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. You, Mr Trump, recognised that the real problem was a lack of leadership. So, ultimately, you didn't blame Lil Jon or Meatloaf -- you fired Gary Busey. These are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, Sir. Well-handled."

Seth Meyers of Saturday Night Live picked up the theme, too, telling the audience: "Donald Trump said recently that he has a great relationship with 'the blacks'. But unless the Blacks are a family of white people, I think he's mistaken."

There was also an amusing pastiche of the King's Speech for fans of Obama's gaffe-prone vice-president, Joe Biden -- and an exclusive look at Obama's "birth video". But the best joke of the night came from Meyers, when he told Obama how much he'd aged since taking office: "Mr President, look at your hair. If your hair gets any whiter, the Tea Party is going to endorse it."

PS George Bush was also a good sport at the dinner during his presidency (the Colbert year aside). You can see him and a lookalike delivering a speech here; and here there's Laura Bush complaining about how she's a "desperate housewife" because he goes to bed so early.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

Photo: Getty Images/Christopher Furlong
Show Hide image

A dozen defeated parliamentary candidates back Caroline Flint for deputy

Supporters of all the leadership candidates have rallied around Caroline Flint's bid to be deputy leader.

Twelve former parliamentary candidates have backed Caroline Flint's bid to become deputy leader in an open letter to the New Statesman. Dubbing the Don Valley MP a "fantastic campaigner", they explain that why despite backing different candidates for the leadership, they "are united in supporting Caroline Flint to be Labour's next deputy leader", who they describe as a "brilliant communicator and creative policy maker". 

Flint welcomed the endorsement, saying: "our candidates know better than most what it takes to win the sort of seats Labour must gain in order to win a general election, so I'm delighted to have their support.". She urged Labour to rebuild "not by lookin to the past, but by learning from the past", saying that "we must rediscover Labour's voice, especially in communities wher we do not have a Labour MP:".

The Flint campaign will hope that the endorsement provides a boost as the campaign enters its final days.

The full letter is below:

There is no route to Downing Street that does not run through the seats we fought for Labour at the General Election.

"We need a new leadership team that can win back Labour's lost voters.

Although we are backing different candidates to be Leader, we are united in supporting Caroline Flint to be Labour's next deputy leader.

Not only is Caroline a fantastic campaigner, who toured the country supporting Labour's candidates, she's also a brilliant communicator and creative policy maker, which is exactly what we need in our next deputy leader.

If Labour is to win the next election, it is vital that we pick a leadership team that doesn't just appeal to Labour Party members, but is capable of winning the General Election. Caroline Flint is our best hope of beating the Tories.

We urge Labour Party members and supporters to unite behind Caroline Flint and begin the process of rebuilding to win in 2020.

Jessica Asato (Norwich North), Will Straw (Rossendale and Darween), Nick Bent (Warrington South), Mike Le Surf (South Basildon and East Thurrock), Tris Osborne (Chatham and Aylesford), Victoria Groulef (Reading West), Jamie Hanley (Pudsey), Kevin McKeever (Northampton South), Joy Squires (Worcester), Paul Clark (Gillingham and Rainham), Patrick Hall (Bedford) and Mary Wimbury (Aberconwy)

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.