President Obama has managed to avoid the elite-iest of the Beltway-elite galas for a good part of his presidency — but on Saturday he’ll finally give in, with his first trip to the annual Gridiron Club dinner since his election.
Since Grover Cleveland, every POTUS has sat down to at least one white-tie gathering with the Gridiron, an exclusive cadre of D.C. journalists. (Nope, we’re not members.) Obama, who attended as a senator in 2006, was the first president since WWII to skip the dinner his first year in the White House — his excuse then was that his kids were on spring break. In 2010 he sent regrets as well. (He went to the 2009 Alfalfa Club dinner but bypassed the last two.)
But this year they finally got ’im — and the result is an expected crowd 650 strong, the largest in the group’s 126-year history.
“President Obama has definitely made it a hotter ticket,” said club president Susan Page of USA Today. And no bad feelings about the previous absences. “We understand presidents get invited to a lot of things.”
In addition to dinner, he’ll be treated to the musical-stylings of various VIPs doing song spoofs, and comic riffs from Kathleen Sebelius and Mitch Daniels. Guests will include Rahm Emanuel, Katie Couric, the film director James L. Brooks, and the ubiquitous Jon Bon Jovi . And the club plans a tribute to our recently departed colleague David Broder , an enthusiastic longtime member of the club.