Mar 22, 2010

Bill Clinton in rare form at annual Gridiron Dinner

Former President Bill Clinton made a return to Washington’s public life, if only temporarily.

He spoke to the annual Gridiron Dinner as a stand-in for Barack Obama and poked fun at nearly everyone in sight - including himself.

Mr. Clinton, known to friend and foe alike as a gifted political orator, showed he hasn’t lost much in that category in the nine years since he left the White House.

Presidential speeches to the Gridiron—an organization of Washington journalists—are supposed to be humorous, and Mr. Clinton knew the drill well from his time as a regular dinner guest during his term.

So he got loosened up at Saturday night’s white-tie dinner with a joke at his own expense: “I have been waiting to stand in for President Obama for a long time,” he said, “ and since they turned me down for Dancing with the Stars, I had nothing better to do.”

Besides himself, Clinton had fun with others:

Barack Obama

Clinton said Obama couldn’t make the dinner because he was too busy polishing up his Nobel Peace Prize.


Mr. Clinton said he suggested to Obama that he at least come and appear before the journalists assembled at the dinner anyway, to pitch his health bill again, but then added, in a reference to the senior status of journalists in the Gridiron Club, that he realized “they’re so old they won’t be helped by what’s in there.”

Al Gore

Bill Clinton said he was speaking on the night before the start of spring, “otherwise known to Al Gore as proof of global warming.”

Joe Biden

God bless his mouth.

Senator Orrin Hatch

Clinton praised a speech given earlier in the dinner by the night’s Republican speaker, Orrin Hatch: “Orrin, he’s the wittiest of all the Republicans. That’s sort of like saying he’s the tallest of the Seven Dwarfs.”