Popular but politically humbled, President Barack Obama said goodbye to the nation Tuesday night, declaring during his farewell address that he hasn’t abandoned his vision of progressive change but warning that it now comes with a new set of caveats.
For the final time, President Barack Obama delivered one-liners and laughs at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, lampooning himself, Congress, and his upcoming status as a lame duck.
“Last week Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe,” Obama said. “That was a slap in the face.”
Obama pretended to be wrapping up his remarks with no mention of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“Well let me conclude tonight on a more serious note. I want to thank the Washington press corps,” Obama said. “The free press is central to our democracy and … nah! I’m just kidding! You know I’m gonna talk about Trump! Come on!,” he said.
“And it is surprising: You’ve got a room full of reporters, celebrities, cameras — and he says no,” Obama continued.
“Is this dinner too tacky for The Donald? What could he possibly be doing instead? Is he at home, eating a Trump steak, tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel? What’s he doing?”
Obama joked about Trump’s foreign policy experience, saying, “There’s one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable, and that’s closing Guantanamo. Because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground.”
Obama did not spare Hillary Clinton. He began by apologizing for a delay in a quip that turned on the former Secretary of State.
“I know I was a little late tonight,” Obama said in his opening remarks. “I was running on CPT — which stands for jokes that white people should not make.”
The joke referred to a recent gaffe made by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Hillary Clinton who spoke about “C.P. time,” a racially insensitive term that stands for “colored people’s time.”
Obama also told the crowd in his opening: “If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans.” The new version of the $20 bill will feature escaped slave and abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the front.
Obama made a not-so-subtle prediction of his successor.
“Next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot, and it’s anyone’s guess who she will be,” Obama said.
Obama also had fun with his age and looked back at his time in office, reflecting on the message he brought to the White House when he was first elected. “Eight years ago I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight, I clearly should have been more specific,” Obama said.
“Eight years ago I was a young man, full of idealism and vigor,” Obama said. “And look at me now: I am grey and grizzled, and just counting down the days ’till my death panel.”
Obama ended his last White House Correspondents’ Dinner with a sincere thank you to the press corps.
“I just have two more words to say,” the president said. “Obama out.”