It was the equivalent of President and Mrs. Trump attending this weekend’s White House Correspondents Dinner (which they’re not) and adult film star Stormy Daniels being among the invited guests (which she may be).
It was 20 years ago this weekend that my daughter Krista (then a high school senior) and I attended the annual inside-the-Washington-Beltway gala where politicians, media folks and invited celebrities chat it up.
We were star-struck by the likes of Sharon Stone, Warren Beatty, Michael Douglas, Martha Stewart and Jon Bon Jovi. Krista had the courage to introduce herself to Secretary of State Madeline Albright, but she couldn’t bring herself to say hello to the most-handsome John F. Kennedy Jr., even though he stood next to her, talking, as we sat at our table. (He died in a plane crash a year later.)
The brightest star, of course, was President Clinton, accompanied by his spouse, Hillary. And the biggest buzz was over a 31-year-old woman seated at a table near the back of the cavernous room—Paula Jones.
Ms. Jones, you may recall, is the former Arkansas state government employee whose lawsuit alleging sexual harassment against Clinton precipitated his impeachment. She was undeniably the night’s trophy guest, invited by a now-defunct conservative magazine. Seated with her was Watergate figure and talk show host G. Gordon Liddy.
This was all shortly after Jones’ lawsuit was dismissed and reporters revealed the investigation of Clinton’s relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky.
A lot of eyes were on Mrs. Clinton that night. She had spent the day answering questions from the independent counsel investigating the Whitewater scandal. And now she had to breathe the same air as Paula Jones and possibly endure Monica Lewinsky jokes.
The night’s emcee, Ray Romano, steered clear of the scandal. For his part, President Clinton joked he wasn’t up on the news. “What have you been writing about?” he asked the crowd. “I hardly have any time to read the news any more. Mostly I just skim the retractions.”
President Trump will skip the Correspondents Dinner again this year, just as he did a year ago when he became the first no-show president since Ronald Reagan in 1981. President Reagan had a good excuse. He was recovering from an assassination attempt. He did phone in an appearance, however. “If I could give you just one little bit of advice,” he said, “when somebody tells you to get in a car quick, do it.”
I don’t think President Trump will be making a Skype or Facetime appearance with what he considers “the fake news” crowd Saturday night. And the boycott spares Mrs. Trump the possibility of having to be in the same room as the porn star who says she had an affair with her husband.
I’m among those who believe Mr. Trump’s plan to run for president was galvanized at the Correspondents Dinner seven years ago when he stoically sat in the audience as President Obama mocked him over his claim Mr. Obama isn’t a native-born American.
I’ll be at home, watching this year’s dinner on TV. I bet President Trump will be, too. Maybe we’ll both have cheeseburgers.