Obama Riffs on Emanuel, Robert E. Lee at Alfalfa Dinner

President Obama attended the annual Alfalfa Dinner Saturday night, along with the stars of Washington politics such as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). Some of the president's punchlines focused on Robert E. Lee and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="292" caption="Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was one of the guests in attendance Saturday."]Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was one of the guests in attendance Saturday.[/caption]

Here's an excerpt from Obama's remarks:
I am seriously glad to be here tonight at the annual Alfalfa dinner. I know that many you are aware that this dinner began almost one hundred years ago as a way to celebrate the birthday of General Robert E. Lee. If he were here with us tonight, the General would be 202 years old. And very confused.

Now, this hasn't been reported yet, but it was actually Rahm's idea to do the swearing-in ceremony again. 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.

But these are the kind of negotiations you have to deal with as President. In just the first few weeks, I've had to engage in some of the toughest diplomacy of my life. And that was just to keep my Blackberry. I finally agreed to limit the number of people who could email me. It's a very exclusive list. How exclusive?

Everyone look at the person sitting on your left. Now look at the person sitting on your right. None of you have my email address.

Reports from inside the closed-door, off-the-record dinner were that McCain spoke and there were several good-natured jokes lobbed at Palin.

House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the most powerful African American lawmaker in America, says there were many new faces in the crowd at Saturday night's dinner, hinting that power has taken on a new complexion in Washington, D.C. with President Obama in the White House.

"There were many new faces at this year's dinner," Clyburn told The Hill. "Power and influence have taken on new shades."

The closed-door dinner has been a staple event for A-list politicians in Washington for years.

Obama spoke at the dinner, held at the Capitol Hilton on Saturday night, delivering jokes about White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's use of profanity and his own battle to keep a Blackberry after being sworn in.