Sure, the familiar trappings of the White House Correspondents' Dinner might get a little stale through the years, but it never gets old to listen to the President crack a few jokes and submit himself to a mild roast from a talented comedian. But there was one name on everyone's tongue that wasn't even in attendance — why wasn't Hillary Clinton at the White House Correspondents' Dinner?
It probably doesn't come as much shock that the Clinton political powerhouse was a popular subject on Saturday night, with both Hillary and Bill getting some shout-outs. But the attention made her absence rather noticeable — wouldn't you think she'd want to soak up a little spotlight, with a grueling campaign season right at its start? For what it's worth, she was the subject of both some positive and negative cracks, but that's the nature of these sorts of events! People get a little credit, a little mockery.
Unless, of course, you're Ted Cruz, in which case you only get a whole lot of the first one. Seriously, it was a bad night to be Ted Cruz at the Washington Hilton.
In any case, it appears that Clinton didn't care to attend, but why?
Here's my take, at the very least: she just launched a president campaign, so her attention is likely full-speed ahead on her national aspirations. There are speeches to give, primary state appearances to make, and in all likelihood, donors to be working over. And however trifling it might sound for a person of her stature and resources, jetting to Washington to wine and dine for a couple hours is kind of a trek, and might not be everyone's cup of tea.
And even further, the nature of the White House Correspondents' Dinner might not serve her purposes that well. The sort of reasons you'd naturally assume she might attend the dinner — picking up a little press coverage in a light, less-serious environment — have to be weighed against the likelihood of attending the dinner seeming aloof, detached, out-of-touch or insular. It is, after all, an extremely lavish affair by the standards of most Americans, with thousands packing into the Washington Hilton ballroom.
There's also the matter of her competitors to consider. If she'd attended, her presence could've created a glaring contrast against her Democratic and Republican rivals alike. You can almost hear it now: "While she was sipping wine in Washington, taking your vote for granted," a booming narrator intones, "Rand Paul was out talking to everyday Americans."
It is a shame she didn't show, however — it would've been a lot of fun to see her react to some of the jokes, both those in her favor and at her expense. Just make sure nobody tells her that Cecily Strong thinks Bill is better on the economy.