Obama shares spotlight with Palin at Alfalfa Dinner

February 1, 2009

4WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama shared Washington’s high-society spotlight on Saturday night with an unlikely co-star — Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
Wearing a black satin evening gown, Palin was spotted by journalists making her way into the ballroom at the Capitol Hilton for the Alfalfa Dinner, an annual closed-door roast of the city’s political and business elite.
Following in the footsteps of White House predecessors, Obama served as headline speaker at the light-hearted black-tie affair, which in accordance with a 96-year tradition bars reporters.
So it was not known whether the president had any choice words from the podium for Palin, who as Republican vice presidential nominee in the 2008 election rarely missed a chance to lash into Obama.
But, according to a few of Obama’s joke excerpts released by the White House, he had a few zingers for his hard-driving chief of state, Rahm Emanuel, who has a reputation for sometimes harsh language.
“It was actually Rahm’s idea to do the swearing-in ceremony again,” he said. “Of course, for Rahm, every day is a swearing-in ceremony.”
“Rahm Emanuel is a real sweetheart,” Obama added. “Every week the guy takes a little time away to give back to the community. Just last week he was at a local school, teaching profanity to poor children.”
Of his battle to guard part of his pre-White House lifestyle after his Jan. 20 inauguration, he said, “In just the first few weeks, I’ve had to engage in some of the toughest diplomacy of my life. And that was just to keep my Blackberry.”
And Obama, the first black U.S. president, also poked fun at the Alfalfa Club’s founding in 1913 by a group of Southern gentlemen.
“Many you are aware that this dinner began almost one hundred years ago as a way to celebrate the birthday of General Robert E. Lee. If he were here with us tonight, the general would be 202 years old. And very confused,” Obama said.

Photo credit: Reuters/Tami Chappell (Palin at a campaign rally for Senator Saxby Chambliss)


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And he can poke fun at himself too!

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive

Whoa, it can’t be, you mean, “Palin is Palling around with someone who pals around with terrorist”, say it ain’t so joe!

Posted by Cindy M | Report as abusive

One of the comments of Pres. Obama’s in this message really worries me. I worry about our leaders when they show a lack of knowledge about our history as we all know that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat its mistakes. His comment about Robert E. Lee clearly shows that he knows nothing about the man, a man who is revered worldwide for his honesty, integrity, and his fairness. Robert E. Lee, living in some very tough economic times, took a severe financial hit, voluntarily, when he freed the slaves brought into the marriage from his father-in-law’s estate upon marriage. Later, when his sons inherited estates from his father-in-law’s estate after his death, Lee took time away from his job in the U.S. Army, moved back to Virginia, and attempted to set the estates in sound financial order for his sons, who were also serving their country in the U.S. Army. In trying to set things straight, he wanted to free these slaves as well, but to do so at that time would have bankrupted his sons, so he made a promise to the slaves that he would free them in 5 years. He kept his promise and freed them in 1863! Robert E. Lee, like anyone who might be transported in time, would be confused, but if Pres. Obama wants to comment on someone being confused by there being a partial black man in the white house, then maybe he should look to Ulysses S. Grant, a man who owned slaves and who did NOT free them voluntarily, but who only did so when he was forced to by the passage of the 14th amendment.

Posted by Steve Hall | Report as abusive

i wonder how many feet were sticking out as went to her seat,i am surprised if she din,t have a food taster,the fish coarse would not be from alaska,and any fare from the east coast would certainly not quell her appetite,or her satisfaction.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Wow, thanks Steve Hall, that was a heartwarming account of the love Robert E. Lee had for the SLAVES. Instead of freeing them from SLAVERY, he decided to ENSLAVE them for 5 more years so that his sons wouldn’t have financial difficulty. Boo-hoo. How can you defend this? Pathetic.

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

Shares the spotlight with Palin? Give me a break. She managed to find someone dumb enough to give her a guest ticket. She certainly wasn’t invited. Obama doesn’t share a spotlight when he shows up anywhere.

Posted by EKD | Report as abusive

Steve’s post cracks me up.

Yes, Steve. We should all remember Robert E. Lee as a hero to slaves.


Posted by Barb | Report as abusive

Wow those jokes about Rahm weren’t jokes they were probably true. Haaa Hey Rahm did you pay your taxes!

Sarah Palin obviously brought some CLASS to the dinner!!!

Move on about the slaves, we are all slaves now to the new administration. Go figure…

Posted by Pam | Report as abusive

I’m concerned that Palin is driftless. When other Republicans are standing united against excessive spending and growth of government, she endorses the federal stimulus bill because it contains infrastructure spending for her state. Instead of meeting with House Republicans at their retreat in Virginia, as other leaders in the party have done this weekend, she goes to high-society Washington dinner because, as she said, she wants to hang out with Obama. Palin is very disappointing.

Posted by Kathy | Report as abusive


Very nice comment. We are enslaved now by Government. OVer 1/2 the year we work to pay Federal, State and local taxes. Slavery has not ended. It just took a different form. Join me in taking back our government. Government of the Politicians, By the Politicians, needs to Parish from the Earth, to paraphrase Abe Lincoln. My email gas_60622@yahoo.com.

Even if it is funny, Obama should use his words more carefully. Teaching profanity to children is a stupid comment even if it is taken out of text.

Posted by steve | Report as abusive

Steve is completely correct- and in support of his statement of facts about Robert E Lee- I would add that afte the war, Lee was instrumental in helping the former slaves assimulate into society by helping them build schools, hospitals, and gain a voice in the Virgina state legislature. Lee was a true southern gentlemen- and you all have been sadly lied to by our liberal school systems about him. But there are many in the south who have NOT forgotten him. Without Lee’s tolerance the road would never have been paved for Martin Luther King. He deserves his OWN holiday.

Posted by jerry | Report as abusive

Just goes to show you there is no such thing as Left or Right or Democrats and Republicans. They are all on the same team. Just think of politics like UFC wrestling. After the show they all go out and have drinks and have a good time. It’s just a show for the peasants. Look at Obama’s and McCain’s advisors should McCain have won. They are from the same group and we all know that Presidents don’t know a damn thing anymore, it’s the advisors who tell them what to do and when to do it.

Posted by Uncle Sam | Report as abusive

If only this nation now had but one such as General Lee!
Unless a leader of his caliber emerges, this nation shall not much longer endure.

Posted by Big Jim W | Report as abusive

Robert E Lee would indeed be confused………How did someone become President that was NOT constitutionally eligible?And why did people give all of this power to Federal government. State were all sovereign last time he checked.


Posted by Grayson Jennings | Report as abusive

What was Barak wearing? I’m not a fan of Palin but why does the media always have to mention what political women are wearing, as if it’s important and will skew our thinking about them, and by the way, the picture with this story is showing Palin in pants, not that black statin dress you mention, so why mention it.

Posted by emccarthy | Report as abusive

to steve hall – sorry that you got soo upset about the “confused” comment – please don’t give another jaded history lesson, but i believe that it was a lighthearted reference to the elderly losing some of their memory capacity as they age – see, he would be 202 and … oh forget it

Posted by bob wagner | Report as abusive

Obama told a few jokes. Good for him he can get a laugh in esp. during such staggeringly difficult times. It is good to laugh despite the major uphill battles the U.S. (and world) now face economically.

What is the real truth behind Robt. E. Lee? Don’t know much about history myself but if it is true that Lee did NOT free “his” slaves for 5 years because his sons would suffer, boo-hoo is right. That is pathetic. However, if slavery still existed at the time Lee “granted” his slaves freedom in 5 years, and Lee treated “his” slaves well, then perhaps their lives were much better …. hmm?

This issue of slavery is still very much alive and well in the U.S. especially in the South. Being a “Yankee” as I have been called, jokingly of course (!), Southerners are very prejudiced against anyone from the “outside.” Perhaps we all need refresher courses in history from objective (?) and multiple points of view.

Obama was voted in-to office, folks. He did not waltz in on anyone’s coat-tails. Remember in the speech he made at the Democratic convention when he said it’s “not about me,” Obama sees the symbolism of freedom and choice in America. He was free to run (or not) for President. At least he is clearly articulate, intelligent, graceful, and very passionate about helping others achieve the American Dream. Palin, joke that she is, is yet another embarrassment to the U.S.

Was Robt. E. Lee an embarrassment because he had slaves? How about all the U.S. presidents that had slaves? Which brings us, circuitiously to the present president, Obama is no slouch about symbolism. Don’t think he is not aware of the importance or reconciling prejudices b/n whites and blacks, the history of slavery, and ultimately, the right of every American to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as he has done, and like the rest of us can do.

Palin has no clue about anything. Why was she at the dinner? Rubbing elbows. She probably did not even know who was there and why. Enough already. Go Obama! And let’s hear more about Robt. E. Lee ….very interesting. Thanks all!

Posted by r | Report as abusive

If slavery was such a benign institution, where are all the photos of white slaves with whipping scars across their backs?

Sheesh, revisionist Civil War history. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive

still nothing on those OBAMA health club visits. emanuel knows every detail.

Posted by deroy | Report as abusive

To all those who love to bash Sarah Palin..I must say, in her defense, she at least knows that a woman is pregnant with a baby and not a ‘thing’ or ’tissue.’

On the other hand, Obama the Mess..says it’s above his pay grade to answer the question of, when does life begin..But he does know that he would not want his daughters ‘Punished’ with a baby, if they should follow in his own mother’s footsteps and have a baby out of wed-lock. What a relief that his mom did not feel a baby was a punishment..

So go ahead and say Palin is dumb and knows nothing..She at least knows the difference between right and wrong, while you all blindly follow a man who is systemtically killing off generations of Americans, denying them the right to life and exist…News flash 37 percent of aborted babies are black..At least slavery allowed people the chance to exist, abortion is the rejection of that fundamental principle..Look at FOCA, only the cruelest of mankind would sponsor such a bill…
Also, how about enslaving us in economic dependency, aka, Welfare America..The change we’ve been begging for..The whole world is laughing at the Dream Team, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid..billions of our tax dollars toward STD, contraceptives, Planned Parenthood..While people are losing homes and jobs, our Liberal government is more concerned about paying back political favors..

Oh, and Sarah Palin, she is so dumb, that she knows that the best way to turn our economy around is for us to start using our own natural resources, which will create thousands of jobs, pump our own money into our economy, instead of outsourcing billions of dollars to foreign countries who turn around and use our own money to sponsor terrorist groups that want all of us DEAD…

So yeah, Palin’s not that bright..

Posted by ana4sarah | Report as abusive

Please let Ms Palin fade into the obscurity she richly deserves. However, it is nice to see that US Republicans can move forward in their thinking. Note how unwed teenage sex and pregnancy are no longer an issue since teen sex poster-girl Sarah Palin’s daughter had her baby.

Posted by fuzzbollah | Report as abusive

“In trying to set things straight, he wanted to free these slaves as well, but to do so at that time would have bankrupted his sons, so he made a promise to the slaves that he would free them in 5 years. He kept his promise and freed them in 1863!” -Steve Hall

Steve Hall hails Robert E. Lee was an honorable man for _Doing The Right Thing Only When it was Convenient_.

This definition of honor is what is causing the downfall of the US.

To put it simply, keeping people in bondage, imprisoned, in slavery, for five years was not the right thing to do.

Posted by Collette | Report as abusive

All this Palin bashing shows what low IQ’s some have. Stop bashing about something you know nothing about.Get an education instead!!!!

Posted by Jayne M | Report as abusive

Hi, Steve, Barb, good comments! Everybody is enslaved by this or that. Why not uproot slavery of the mankind forever?

Posted by Wang Xu | Report as abusive

Let’s clarify Sarah Palin’s “pro-life” stance. Katie Couric questioned her last summer, and she said that while she (Sarah) is pro-life, abortion rights is a states’ issue, and should be regulated at the state level. Sarah went on to say that state governments are better able to understand the desires of their residents and to legislate accordingly. The “not for me, but ok for you” argument is usually called PRO-CHOICE, not pro-life. Palin is clearly PRO-ChOICE, and we should not be mislead into supporting such a candidate!

Posted by calypso | Report as abusive

jimbo i used to play golf on a golf course in england, and one of the freeways had strips of land about 8 feet wide and about 250feet long.those pieces of land,that,s how folks used to feed their families,they worked for the lord for five days with no pay,and he allowed them to plant and feed their families on these strips of land.the houses they lived in also belonged to the lord as well if you did not comply you were out.also near was a valley called the” valley of widows”,if you went to work in the lead mines you were dead before you were thirty, but they had to feed their families,hence the the reality was lots young women dressed in black.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Sarah Palin, is a beautiful, bright, and aggressively ambitious women. Her error was not that people saw her as dumb, they saw her as unprepared. We teach our children to be prepared for school; she should have declined a Vice Presidential bid if she felt that she was not yet prepared to undertake the challenge. You can’t just rely on aids and teleprompters to get you by. You need genuine preparation.

As for Obama, time will tell if the change that he speaks of is a real change for America, or just a change of political positioning on his part.

Obama is smart but he can not depend on his handlers and aids to make the big and early decisions, he must think on his own; that what the world is counting on.

Posted by John mahoney | Report as abusive

All this Palin bashing shows what low IQ’s some have. Stop bashing about something you know nothing about.Get an education instead!!!!

– Posted by Jayne M

I’m quite well educated Jayne, degree in history with a minor in theology from a decent state university not several community colleges and I didn’t take time off to compete in a beauty contest. That’s why I was opposed to Palin. I haven’t taken an IQ test since I was a kid but I feel confident that I could top Palins.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

In an Anchorage Daily News interview last week – and gosh, I’ve missed her masterful command of the English language – Sarah Palin said:

“Yeah, I’m going to meet with those who are making decisions for Alaska in the stimulus package, including … Mitch McConnell and others, having dinner with them and meeting with John Katz in our D.C. office on what it is that we can support in the stimulus package. Advocating tough too for an exemption that Alaska needs in terms of timelines for some of these shovel-ready projects. Congress is saying the projects involved in the infrastructure aspect of the stimulus package have to be shovel ready, have to get them out the door, whether it be 90 days or 120 days. Well we’re Alaska, and we need an exemption there so that we’re not left out in the cold in terms of some of the projects that will take a northern climate a longer period of time to make sure that we have our projects ready to go.”

So much for “Thanks but no thanks.” Looks like Palin’s new catchphrase is “I heart government cheese.”

Meanwhile, Palin is going to have to try a bit harder to impress her Republican supporters if she’s planning to become president in 2012. Like her run at the vice-presidency, an ABC News article last week entitled “Palin Stiffs The House Republicans” sounds provocative but ultimately turns out to be a disappointment.

When House Republicans planned their annual winter retreat, they extended an invitation to Alaska Gov. Sara Palin, hoping the party’s 2008 vice presidential nominee would give a morale-building speech to the more than 130 Republican members of Congress gathered this weekend in Hot Springs, Va.

Retreat organizers tell ABC News that Palin politely declined, giving a perfectly understandable reason. According to the Congressional Institute, which hosted the conference, Palin said she simply could not make it to the retreat because pressing state business made it impossible for her to leave Alaska this weekend.

So where is Palin this weekend? She’s in Washington, D.C., attending the super-elite Alfalfa Dinner.

“She lied to us,” said a Republican at the retreat.

Um, and this is a surprise to you… why?

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

eric,i think tc would agree with me here. we need to let you down as lightly as possible,because we are compassionate conservatives but we don,t want to deflate you completely.but matching your intelligence against sarah palin,that is not a true reflection on the reality of the situation. putting forward the heights of academic brilliance with your history degree,does not necessarily advance this theory.she governs a state,and you are a rough carpenter on a building site.there is a slight difference,get the message,please let commonsense prevail and give her a little bit more credit.incidentally have a nice day.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

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