WASHINGTON – 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)