The only thing news worthy about Barack Obama's skipping the Gridiron Dinner is that it makes him the first president since Grover Cleveland to miss the first Gridiron Dinner of his presidency. The dinner is one of those widely accepted rituals that presidents attend to schmooze with the inside the beltway journalists. It's interesting that Barack Obama who received messianic praise by the media chooses not to go, while George W. Bush who was kicked around mercilessly by the press for eight years not only attended he even sang them a little ditty at his farewell Gridiron last year. This must have been recorded by a rogue guest who snuck his camcorder into the event:
After his song, he went on to make some very gracious comments about the media, and without a teleprompter I might add:
President Bush was and still is a truly classy man. I believe the American people will begin to miss him if they aren't already.
Carol Platt Liebau at Townhall:
Occasions like the Gridiron Dinner represent opportunities to shore up relationships with people who can (at least on the margins) help or hurt a president. The fact that Obama isn't taking advantage of such an opportunity demonstrates one of two things: Either he doesn't realize the importance of such seemingly small gestures, or else, his self-confidence is such that he doesn't believe that he needs the help of the press to succeed.
President Bush was very gracious to the press, but they hated him anyway and did the best they could to torpedo his presidency. For all intents and purposes, they succeeded, at least in the realm of public opinion.