WASHINGTON--The departure of former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley was lamented in one of the parodies at the Gridiron Club and Foundation dinner on Saturday night.
The 127th annual dinner of the club--disclosure, I am a member--featured Defense Secretary Leon Panetta representing the White House, Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaking for the Republicans and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the Democratic National Committee, delivering the Democratic address.
Panetta headlined in place of President Barack Obama--who landed in South Korea on Saturday for a summit on nuclear security and non-proliferation as well as bi-lateral meetings with the leaders of Russia, Turkey and China.
The speeches are in addition to skits by clubs members--many in elaborate costumes--who lampoon Democratic and Republican figures in the news.
A song about Daley, now back in Chicago--to the tune of "Won't you come home Bill Bailey"--asked, "Why'd you go home, Bill Daley? Why'd you go home? Guess you ran out of time. You came to fix Obama's Biz-ness-man blues. But he paid you no mind. Once the campaign got started He moved far left. He practik-ly joined Occ-u-py. We know you not to blame....Bill Daley won't you please come back?"
With the dinner coming during the GOP presidential primary, rivals Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were gently mocked.
Santorum was spoofed in a song to the tune of "Onward Christian Soldiers." Gingrich's moon landing plans were poked at in "Fly Newt to the Moon," a take-off on the Frank Sinatra classic. The smash Broadway hit, "The Book of Mormon" was the inspiration for a Romney song, a Gridiron version of "I Believe."
The 650 guests at the dinner include media executives, journalists, White House officials, cabinet members, military leaders, ten ambassadors, five governors, three senators, eight House members, and three mayors, including Chicago's Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel was a guest of the Chicago Sun-Times.