September 15, 1988

Well, thank you all for coming. And many thanks to the Capitol Steps for performing and for showing such uncommon mercy. [Laughter] Now, you're all under arrest. [Laughter] You know, someone asked how this group got started. Well, simple: The Congress drove them to it. [Laughter] I've had members of the administration go up on the Hill to testify. They came back the same way. [Laughter]

Now you know, the Capitol Steps might be getting some competition. What with glasnost and all, the Soviets have started a similar group: They're called the Russian steppes. [Laughter] Now, political satire is still new over there, but the group has caught on fast. They've only performed once and already they've been booked solid. Each one of them got 20 years. [Laughter] Just for the record, I'm speaking in jest here. Of course, some of you think I've been doing that for 8 years now. [Laughter]

But seriously, this is always a great pleasure to have you all here. And tonight it's a very special pleasure for Nancy and me, because this is our last congressional barbecue. One of the great things I've found in Washington is that whatever the issue may be or whatever might be said during the day, after 6 o'clock we all take off the cleats and all come together as friends and colleagues. And these barbecues for me have come to represent that friendship and respect that overrides any partisan or political difference.

So, let me just say how glad I am that you could join us tonight. It meant a lot to us. And I think it's going to be clear through to January to try to thank you for these 8 years. So for tonight, let me just say thank you. I'll pardon those I've just arrested. [Laughter] Thank you all, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 8:39 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. In his opening remarks, he referred to the Capitol Steps, a musical satire group from Washington, DC.