He's done it again. For a third time, President Obama is snubbing the annual gathering of prominent Washington journalists known as the Gridiron Dinner next month. Instead, he is attending the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.
"I'm disappointed," said Gridiron President George Condon of National Journal. And, he kidded, "I'm not sure what it says of his priorities when the president puts the nuclear security of the world ahead of our dinner."
Subbing for Obama at the March 24 dinner will be Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, ironically the hands-on manager of the nation's nuclear arsenal that will be discussed at the South Korean summit.
Obama has only attended one dinner in his four chances since becoming president, making his attendance the worst of any president in history. He went to the dinner last year and won kudos for his jokes at the annual dinner that features skits and songs. He was the first president ever to snub the group in his first year as president.
The group is 127 years old and has a limited membership list, but the dinner brings out the biggest names in Washington politics and journalism. Obama is expected to go to the more widely-attended White House Correspondents' Dinner.
One regular Gridiron attendee expressed surprise that the president wasn't attending in a reelection year. "It really is surprising for a president to blow off journalists in a year he is running," said the Gridiron member.