PRESIDENT Barack Obama has joked that the years are catching up to him and he’s not “the strapping young Muslim socialist” he used to be.
Mr Obama poked fun at the media, his critics and himself on Saturday night at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, a star-filled event where journalists and celebrities mixed with the Washington elite.
Entering to the rap track All I Do Is Win by DJ Khaled, Mr Obama joked about how re-election would allow him to unleash a radical agenda. But then he showed a picture of himself golfing on a mock magazine cover of Senior Leisure.
But Mr Obama’s most dramatic shift for the next four years appeared to be aesthetic. He presented a montage of shots featuring him with a fringe similar to that sometimes sported by his wife, first lady Michelle Obama,
“So we borrowed one of Michelle’s tricks,” Mr Obama said. “I thought this looked pretty good, but no bounce.”
The president gently knocked Republicans for not working with him on policy priorities and made a rare reference to his race when urging the opposition party to be co-operative.
“I know Republicans are still sorting out what happened in 2012, but one thing they all agree on is they need to do a better job reaching out to minorities,” Mr Obama said.
“And look, call me self-centred, but I can think of one minority they could start with. Hello? Think of me as a trial run, you know?” he said.
Mr Obama won re-election in November with overwhelming support from minority voters including blacks and Hispanics.
He took a swipe at people who have doubted his religion and accused him of being a radical left-winger, while he made light of his greying hair.
“These days, I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be,” Obama said. “Time passes. You get a little gray.”
Obama made light of his own rapid rise to power by comparing himself to Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a Hispanic from Florida who is touted as a presidential candidate in 2016.
“One senator who has reached across the aisle recently is Marco Rubio, but I don’t know about 2016. I mean, the guy has not even finished a single term in the Senate and he thinks he’s ready to be president,” Mr Obama joked. “Kids these days.”
Mr Obama began running for president during his first term as a US senator from Illinois.
In a room filled with journalists, the president saved some of his most biting jokes for the press.
“I know CNN has taken some knocks lately, but the fact is I admire their commitment to cover all sides of a story, just in case one of them happens to be accurate,” he said, drawing applause.
“Some of my former advisors have switched over to the dark side. For example, David Axelrod now works for MSNBC, which is a nice change of pace since MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod.”
Mr Axelrod was the chief strategist for Mr Obama’s re-election campaign and a former White House adviser. MSNBC is considered to be a liberal-leaning television network.
Mr Obama closed by noting the nation’s recent tragedies in Massachusetts and Texas, praising Americans of all stripes for serving the public good.
Saturday night’s banquet, not far from the White House, attracted the usual assortment of stars from Hollywood and beyond. Actors Kevin Spacey, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Claire Danes, who play government characters on series, were among the attendees, as was Korean pop star Psy. Several Cabinet members, governors and members of Congress were present.