President Obama was always a comedian at heart, and he must have just wanted to let off a little steam when Donald Trump led the charge insisting that Obama make his birth certificate public. In response to the racially-charged birther conspiracy theories, Obama released a Lion King "birth video" at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner in jest, and the subsequent jabs that followed got the whole room laughing — except one person.
In hindsight, it certainly seems sinister. Media types have since speculated that the 2011 dinner was the night that launched Trump's presidential campaign, spurred by a desire to get back at the elites who had mocked him at the event. Obama's quips were brutal, but he had reason to be, since Trump had publicly questioned his citizenship — and by extension his legitimacy as president — for months. Comedian Seth Meyers went even further at making fun of "The Donald," which Trump later said he didn't appreciate.
A Washington Post reporter who sat behind Trump and spoke to him about it wrote that that evening was not the force behind Trump's presidential campaign, and Trump himself backed up that position. "It’s such a false narrative,” Trump told her. “I had a phenomenal time. I had a great evening."
Even years later, Obama's birth video joke is still just as hilarious, but in retrospect, it's now intertwined with a sense of sadness and loss. Obama was a president who could make fun of himself and make everyone laugh in the process, even as he was facing ridiculous claims from a wealthy guy. And it's worth mentioning that Obama had authorized the raid that would kill Osama Bin Laden the very the same day the WHCD took place.
If someone told you that Obama's successor would be the butt of his jokes that night, would you have believed them? Now, we're truly living in a world where Trump is actually the president. He's incapable of making fun of himself, he can't do comedy, and he's still making similar ridiculous claims. This year, he's not even coming to the White House Correspondents' Dinner to give the comedy a shot.
I remember laughing about Obama's usage of the Lion King video. I probably shared it with other people who might get a kick out of it, safe in the knowledge that Obama was the president and Trump was the joke. Now, it's just not quite as funny anymore.