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The White House Correspondents Dinner is Saturday night, which means the percentage of Twitter updates from national political journalists and operatives pertaining to the dinner—which everyone seems to refer to as “prom”—is asymptotically approaching 100.
What’s remarkable about the dinner and the hoopla that goes along with it is how little it ever seems to change. Nearly 20 years ago, Michael Dolan captured the scene for Washington City Paper:
No prom is complete without date angst, and the White House Prom is no exception. In high school, the overarching idea is to get laid. At the correspondents’ dinner, the image pertains, but the reality is a mite less physical. For one thing, though a night of a few thousand semistars might seem to be a sweet perquisite to bestow on a spouse or significant other, such is not usually the case—unless one’s spouse or SO is as well-connected as oneself. Just so with guests; it usually is made clear that only the invitee is invited, but on more than one occasion an extra chair has to be commandeered because someone didn’t get the message and shows up with chagrined mate in tow.
Some participants invite news sources, on the theory that a night with the prez and the rest of the city’s media stars will have the same effect, inside-informationwise, that a bumper of Colt 45 has, datewise. Although the analogy holds, like a bottle of malt liquor the dinner’s effect is fleeting and not conducive to the establishment of long-term intimacy.
Read the whole thing here. Sub in more recent presidents’ names—and actually, since Dolan writes a lot about George H.W. Bush, you don’t even need to change his name much—and the piece could be about last year’s affair.
We at City Paper won’t be doing much to mark the occasion, but if you’re out at a bar Saturday night, and you spot any City Paper staffers, feel free to declare whatever spot you’re at to be the official location of the Washington City Paper White House Correspondents Dinner Afterparty.
Photo by Lawrence Jackson/White House