I’ve been working in Washington D.C. for five years, but Saturday was my first experience with the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. A real horror show. My write-up, for Time.com, can be found here. It begins:
WASHINGTON — We are a sorry lot, us D.C. dwellers. Not sexy enough for Los Angeles, we settle for the pancake makeup of a cable news studio. Not rich enough for New York, we inflate our importance with proximity to political power.
We work longer hours than are healthy for happy families or lasting love affairs, and have few interesting qualities, if you discount our barroom celebrations over the latest attack ads or policy papers. As a rule, we treat creative individuality with the same suspicion as recreational drugs. You don’t want to call too much attention to yourself, or put your security clearance at risk. It’s no wonder that in middle age, so many of our successful men end up wearing work socks to bed with costly prostitutes.
These truths are self-evident, but we still try to keep up appearances. It’s bad for business to admit you are a pinhead, even if the polls clearly show that the American people have not been fooled. So each year, nearly three thousand Beltway tribe members and their guests gather at the Washington Hilton, the place where Ronald Reagan got shot, to dine with the current president of the United States and pretend for a night that we actually belong to a cool crowd, a hip scene, an exclusive network of movers and shakers that everyone wants to join.