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.”

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

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.