Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at the White House Photographers Association Dinner

May 20, 1995

I want to gets lots of records of you clapping for me. [Laughter] Well, ladies and gentlemen, tonight I feel your pain. [Laughter] Is there a courier around here anywhere? [Laughter] I hate these name tags. [Laughter]

I just wanted you to see what it feels like to have your picture taken when you're eating. [Laughter]

I am here tonight to address a very relevant issue: The President is funny. The power of the Presidency makes me funny. [Laughter] If you don't believe me, don't laugh at these jokes, have a nice audit. [Laughter]

You know, I used to complain about how all of you were trying to get my attention, you know, for photos—"Over here!" "Over here!" "Over here!" "Over here!" "Just one more!" "Just one more!"—and I didn't like the way you tried to get my attention until I heard about how the Russian police tried to get Jeremy Gaines' attention last week. [Laughter] Now you can "just one more" me from now to kingdom come, and I won't bite. [Laughter]

You know, I thought Mike McCurry was a model Press Secretary, even before I saw this month's Esquire. Did you see him, with his model picture from the 1970's? This man used to be a model. This goes to show you that not all plastic surgery works. [Laughter] If you like the outfit he's wearing tonight, however, you can order it from the White House spring catalog. [Laughter]

You know, I'm sorry I've never been here before. I really do like all of you very much. But it wasn't until a few days ago that I found out that this is the only place I could be with you and you wouldn't have all those questionaskers around with you. [Laughter]

One of the things I want to do is to compliment Mike McCurry's policy of having the Press Office staff in the White House send him a note each day to show what good deeds they've done for the press corps or kick a dollar into the pizza fund. This, of course, was an expansion, an improvement on my original idea in which everybody at the White House kicks in a dollar anyway and we just order pizza. [Laughter]

Tonight I want to share with you some of the notes Mike has received from the staff:

To Mike from McNeely: "Yesterday I performed my annual ritual of getting out of the shot." Think about that. [Laughter]

To Mike from Josh: "I held Paul Hosefros of the New York Times by the feet and suspended him from the ceiling so the New York Times could run one more bizarre angle of the President's picture." [Laughter]

To Mike from Ralph: "I gave Ira Wyman CPR after he jogged with the President." [Laughter]

To Mike from Sharon: "I helped Ken Lambert prepare for his interview with Jesse Helms regarding his pending NEA grant." [Laughter]

Now, not everybody could meet Mike's challenge, so the pizza fund only had about 20 bucks in it. So I decided the First Lady should manage the fund. [Laughter] And she has invested it so wisely—[laughter]—that beginning Monday morning, daily, the Four Seasons will be catering filet mignon in the Press Office. [Laughter]

I had a wonderful time tonight being on the other end of the camera.

I want to congratulate the award winners and to say to all of you, the photographers, editors, engineers, producers, and cameramen and women with whom I've shared these extraordinary past couple of years, I watch your work with great appreciation. You have transmitted images that no one who was there could every forget. I know I'll never forget, from the DMZ in Korea to the swollen banks of the Mississippi River to the beaches of Normandy, the NCAA championship—the one I liked—[laughter]—this remarkable picture on the cover of your program, which hangs in my private office in the White House because I liked it so much.

And like the priest who gave us the wonderful invocation, I want to say a special word of thanks for the work all of you did to make Oklahoma City real to us, both the agony and America at its best.

The great photojournalists, the men and women who are carrying on the great tradition of Mathew Brady, from the Civil War to Robert Capa's D-Day photography to Joe Rosenthal's remarkable memory of Iwo Jima, I salute you all.

I thank you for what you have done. And I hope that as we continue our journey together, me in the limo and you guys 20 cars behind— [laughter]—you will every now and then cut me a little slack for being nearly 50 and a bit on the heavy side. [Laughter]

Now before I leave tonight, I want to make one very important policy announcement. I will not jog in the morning. In fact, I will do nothing until 10:45 a.m., so the pool call time is 10:30 a.m., not 6:45 a.m. [Applause]

Now I'm going to go so you can enjoy the rest of the evening. Now, I'll start late so you can have a good night's sleep. The pool has to go with me, and the rest of you can stay. [Laughter] Ralph, you can stay, too. [Laughter]

Good night, and God bless you all. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:10 p.m. at the Washington Hilton. In his remarks, he referred to Robert W. McNeely, Director, White House Photographic Services; Joshua A. King, Director of Production for Presidential Events; and official White House photographers Ralph Alswang and Sharon C. Farmer.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the White House Photographers Association Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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