WASHINGTON--Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel was the subject of good-natured ribbing at the 126th annual Gridiron Club dinner on Saturday night from all three speakers, President Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.
"Welcome home," Obama shot at Emanuel, a reference to the residency challenge Emanuel--his former chief-of-staff---faced when he moved back to Chicago from here to run for mayor.
Emanuel was the guest of the Chicago Sun-Times at the white tie and ball gown event, a gathering of more than 600--mainly from the worlds of politics, government and media.
Before Obama zinged Emanuel in his address, the Republican and Demcratic speakers--Daniels and Sebelius--aimed barbs at Chicago's incoming mayor in their speeches, exercises in self-deprecating humor and mockery.
Emanuel is well known for his use of profanity and with the Chicago city limits close to the Indiana border, Daniels quipped, "It was a little hard to feel humorous with the economy still so tough. As if our state budget wasn't tight enough, now after the Chicago mayor's race we have to build a missile defense system against F-bombs."
Sebelius, taking note of Emanuel's mid-May inauguration said, "I am looking forward to Rahm putting the swearing back in swearing in."
Obama is practiced at mocking Emanuel, making him the butt of jokes for years. At the 2009 Alfalfa dinner, Obama joked about Emanuel's cussing, in this context just weeks after his own swearing-in as president.
2009 Flashback: "Of course, for Rahm, every day is a swearing-in ceremony. "But don't believe what you read. Rahm Emanuel is a real sweetheart. No, it's true. 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."
Back to 2011. Obama kidded Emanuel about the residency challenge he faced when he returned to Chicago in October to run for mayor, a case that went all the way up to the Illinois Supreme Court.
Said Obama, "Rahm Emanuel is here, hard at work on Chicago's problems. Let me just be the first to say, 'Welcome Home,'--- unless anybody from the Illinois Supreme Court is here, then 'Welcome to Washington."'
"You know the day I hired Rahm as my chief of staff, unemployment was under eight percent and my approval ratings were in the sixties, so good luck Chicago."