The Political Red Carpet

At church yesterday, about five different people came up to me and asked if I had watched the White House Correspondents’ Dinner the night before. Since all of these people had watched some or all of it, I didn’t think it was charitable to answer: “I’d rather watch paint dry,” or “This event is why they say politics is show business for ugly people.”

I do recall, though, that when I lived in Washington, people not only watched this event religiously, but went to a lot of trouble to get themselves invited to attend in person. And yes, there are even “before” and “after” parties, and something of a red carpet, just like in Hollywood. I suppose every industry, even political journalism, needs its little rituals. But these days the actual industry–which is more like a gang of freelance bookies taking bets on a mud-wrestling match–is so remote from the convivial spectacle of the WHCD that it’s like watching Mad Men as performed in a mental institution where everyone thinks it is 1966.

In any event, if, like me, you missed the Big Night in the Emerald City, you can read a brisk L.A. Times account of the night’s best jokes. Walter Shapiro has a nice TNR column on the evolution, or devolution, of the event, which he didn’t bother to attend this year either, calling it the “Nerd Prom.”

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.