White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner

Dick Cheney was supposed to be here but he is very busy working on his memoirs, tentatively titled, “How to Shoot Friends and Interrogate People.” (Laughter.)

You know, it’s been a whirlwind of activity these first hundred days. We’ve enacted a major economic recovery package, we passed a budget, we forged a new path in Iraq, and no President in history has ever named three Commerce Secretaries this quickly. (Laughter.) Which reminds me, if Judd Gregg is here, your business cards are ready now. (Laughter.)

On top of that, I’ve also reversed the ban on stem cell research, signed an expansion — (applause) — signed an expansion of the children’s health insurance. Just last week, Car and Driver named me auto executive of the year. (Laughter.) Something I’m very proud of.

We’ve also begun to change the culture in Washington. We’ve even made the White House a place where people can learn and can grow. Just recently, Larry Summers asked if he could chair the White House Council on Women and Girls. (Laughter.) And I do appreciate that Larry is here tonight because it is seven hours past his bedtime. (Laughter.) Gibbs liked that one. (Laughter.)

In the last hundred days, we’ve also grown the Democratic Party by infusing it with new energy and bringing in fresh, young faces like Arlen Specter. (Laughter.) Now, Joe Biden rightly deserves a lot of credit for convincing Arlen to make the switch, but Secretary Clinton actually had a lot to do with it too. One day she just pulled him aside and she said, Arlen, you know what I always say — “if you can’t beat them, join them.” (Laughter.)

Which brings me to another thing that’s changed in this new, warmer, fuzzier White House, and that’s my relationship with Hillary. You know, we had been rivals during the campaign, but these days we could not be closer. In fact, the second she got back from Mexico she pulled into a hug and gave me a big kiss. (Laughter.) Told me I’d better get down there myself. (Laughter.) Which I really appreciated. I mean, it was — it was nice. (Laughter.)

And of course we’ve also begun to change America’s image in the world. We talked about this during this campaign and we’re starting to execute. We’ve renewed alliances with important partners and friends. If you look on the screen there, there I am with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso. There I am with Gordon Brown.

But as I said during the campaign, we can’t just talk to our friends. As hard as it is, we also have to talk to our enemies, and I’ve begun to do exactly that. Take a look at the monitor there. (Laughter.) Now, let me be clear, just because he handed me a copy of Peter Pan does not mean that I’m going to read it — (laughter) — but it’s good diplomatic practice to just accept these gifts.

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