This is the time when Americans renew their hatred of Washington and Washington wallows in a bittersweet cocktail of self-love and self-loathing.
Which is to say, this is White House Correspondents’ Association weekend, with the dinner Saturday night amid a galaxy of pre- and after-parties. Attendant to these events is the also annual handwringing about the dinner’s value.
Those questioning, of course, are the media, who create the problem, then examine the problem, then suggest ways to solve the problem (that we don’t really believe is a problem) and then go on to repeat the problem.
The rest of the world couldn’t care less about the dinner except perhaps to note that Washington is out of touch with regular Americans and that journalists are too schmoozy with officialdom. Most journalists would agree, but who would want to miss the scholarship awards? Oh, you didn’t know about those?
What we all hate most is the attendance of so many celebrities, who undermine the noble purpose of this convocation. Moreover, they tend to make journalists, who have spent considerable time looking their red-carpet best, feel like last week’s tulips.
Hence, the popular description of Washington as “Hollywood for Ugly People,” and the dinner as the “Nerd Prom.” Not that anyone in the media really feels this way, but it makes everyone feel better to say so, especially in light of the seething wall of protesters gathered each year outside the Washington Hilton.
The buzz-killer crowd, however, is quickly forgotten once inside, where an avenue of cameras and lights awaits stars passing along the red carpet. Note to future newbies: Your entrance is upstairs. Otherwise, you risk a probable humiliation that the lights will suddenly go dark and your grand entrance becomes a soul-killing walk of shame past a gantlet of fish-eyed fans of other people.