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Rahm Emanuel takes brunt of Obama's ribbing at roast

The president pokes fun at his chief of staff at the Afalfa Club dinner in Washington.

February 01, 2009|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Obama poked fun at his volatile chief of staff in a free-for-all roasting of Washington and its politicians Saturday night.

Obama attended the Alfalfa Club dinner, an annual black-tie event where the capital's political and business leaders give humorous speeches.

After a day in which Obama readied a new road map for bailout spending and faced questions over a second Cabinet nominee with tax problems, it was White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel who was a target of much of the president's ribbing.

"Now this hasn't been reported yet, but it was actually Rahm's idea to do the swearing-in ceremony again," Obama said. "Of course, for Rahm, every day is a swearing-in ceremony.

"Every week the guy takes a little time away to give back to the community. Just last week he was at a local school, teaching profanity to poor children," Obama said.

Excerpts of Obama's remarks were released by the White House.

The event, conducted at a hotel near the White House, was closed to the media.

The club's task is to put on the dinner. It is so named, according to club history, because the alfalfa plant's roots will reach far for liquid refreshment.

Founded in 1913, the club was off limits to women until 1994, when First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton attended the event with President Clinton.

On Saturday, Obama also ribbed the club's roots and tradition of exclusion. The club was started partly to celebrate the birthday of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

If Lee "were here with us tonight, the general would be 202 years old," Obama said. "And very confused."

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