Still, there is an uneasy feeling here — and a worry that maybe a gathering of 2,600 people, including journalists and politicians who have spent more than two years warning about the dangers of the pandemic, may not be the best look.
“Well, there is a question of whether it’s EVER appropriate to engage in an exercise in gaudy, celebrity-drenched self-adulation,” David Axelrod, a Democratic strategist who was a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, wrote in an email, “but that’s a separate question.”
However, Mr. Axelrod added, “The country plainly is eager to move on, and people are regularly gathering in public places — stadiums, theaters, restaurants — and, as a political matter, I’m sure the president is eager to embrace the sense that the siege is largely behind us.”
Yet there is no shortage of reminders that the siege may not, in fact, be largely behind us.
The Gridiron Dinner, another gathering of A-listers in the capital, turned into a superspreader event this month. More than 70 attendees later tested positive for the coronavirus, including three members of Mr. Biden’s cabinet — Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo — as well as Mayor Eric Adams of New York.
“The Gridiron freaked everybody out,” Sally Quinn, the Washington journalist, socialite and widow of Ben Bradlee, the former executive editor of The Washington Post, told Axios. “I know a number of people who are not going because they are not wanting to chance it,” she added, referring to the correspondents’ dinner.
The annual gala, hosted by the White House Correspondents’ Association, has been a fixture of Washington political life for decades.
Accompanied by a long weekend of spinoff parties, the event raises money for scholarships and honors journalists for distinguished White House coverage. It typically features celebrity entertainment — this year’s featured guest is Trevor Noah — and a roast of the president. But the gala has drawn criticism for coming across as an unseemly bacchanal in which journalists cozy up to the people they cover. The New York Times has not allowed its reporters to attend since 2007.