I feel a little closer to President Bush today. We now have something in common. We have both conducted John Philip Sousa’s "The Stars and Stripes Forever."
The president led the U.S. Marine Corps Band at last night’s White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington. (This is the band’s 210th anniversary year and Bush’s last correspondents’ dinner as president.) I conducted the Greater Grand Forks Symphony’s version last fall after somehow collecting the most votes in the orchestra’s Make Me A Maestro contest.
The president and I have vastly different conducting styles. Mine is slightly more on beat.
The correspondents’ dinner has become quite the spectacle over the years with Washington press corps members trying to outdo each other by inviting the most attention-grabbing guests possible like Ozzy Osborne. (I could be wrong but I don’t think Monica Lewinski ever accepted.)
New (for me, at least) this year was the addition of the world’s shortest and dumbest looking red carpet INSIDE the Washington hotel where the dinner was held. Like watching a train wreck, Ginny and I couldn’t look away. Along with the Miss America contest, for me this could become "must-see" TV–for all the wrong reasons. Thank you, C-Span.
Celebrities this year included the Jonas Brothers (who seemed more than a little dazed and confused), Salman Rushdie, who clearly wanted nothing to do with the mini-horde of photographers, and the one and only Pamela Anderson who must have been disappointed in that her name was mentioned only once from the podium during the entertainment. Although, Anderson had a pretty good line when she joked earlier with reporters: "I thought this was the ‘White Trash Correspondents’
Whoever they are, the president’s comedy writers are top notch, though. Referring to the absence of the major presidential candidates at the event last night, Mr. Bush said "Hillary Clinton couldn’t get in
because of sniper fire and Senator Obama’s at church."
Craig Ferguson, for my money the funniest man on television right now, was the evening’s main entertainment. After leaving the White House, he suggested the president might look for a job with more vacation time. He also noted that Vice President Dick Cheney "is already moving out of his residence. It takes longer than you might think to pack up an entire dungeon."