The White House Correspondents' Dinner is, for the media, a thoroughly self-aggrandizing affair, a disgustingly smarmy occasion for self-important media insiders to hobnob even more openly with the people they cover. (Consider Politico's obsessive coverage.) Nonetheless, it can also be the scene of some fairly remarkable speaking-truth-to-power comedy. (Think back to Colbert's hilarious appearance in 2006.)
A lot depends on who's there and who's telling the jokes. At the 2011 event last night, SNL's Seth Meyers was funny, if not quite Colbert-level poignant, and President Obama got in some great zingers. For example:
-- "Donald Trump is here tonight. Now, I know that he's taken some flak lately but 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?'"
-- "Michele Bachmann is here. She is thinking about running for president, which is weird because I hear she was born in Canada. Yes, Michele, this is how it starts."
The man can tell a joke. Though it certainly helps that his opponents are such easy targets.