Former President Barack Obama had planned a lavish, celebrity studded party at his $12 million estate in Martha’s Vineyard to celebrate his 60th birthday. Now the event has been canceled because of the continued spread of the coronavirus Delta variant.
“Due to the new spread of the Delta variant over the past week, the President and Mrs. Obama have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends,” Hannah Hankins, a spokeswoman for the former president, said in a statement issued on Wednesday. “He’s appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.”
The New York Times, which has always published glowing accounts on Obama, has not previously reported how the party could be a super spreader gathering:
Hundreds of former Obama administration officials, celebrities and Democratic donors had been planning to attend the party at Mr. Obama’s island mansion. Many guests were already in transit and others were scheduling the required coronavirus tests whose results they had to submit to a medical “coronavirus coordinator” to gain entry to the Obama compound. The New York Post reported that George Clooney, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey were all expected to attend.
“They’ve been concerned about the virus from the beginning, asking invited guests if they had been vaccinated, requesting that they get a test proximate to the event,” said David Axelrod, a former top Obama adviser. “But when this was planned, the situation was quite different. So they responded to the changing circumstances.”
Mr. Obama’s belated change of plans came days after President Biden effectively conceded that the pandemic had come roaring back, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in an internal document that the Delta variant was much more contagious and more likely to break through vaccine protections than all other known versions of the virus. Mr. Obama, however, had at first appeared eager to carry on with his plans, displaying what some viewed as a casual disregard for the optics of his birthday bash. Even as cities like Washington reimposed mask mandates indoors, a source involved in the planning of Mr. Obama’s birthday party said the event would go on as planned, underscoring that it would be outdoors and all guests would be following CDC public health protocols.
Republicans have criticized Obama’s party plans, including Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.
“Democrats are imposing unscientific mask mandates while contemplating more lockdowns,” Stefanik said. “Meanwhile, President Obama is hosting over 500 elites at his Marthas Vineyard mansion. If you or I did that it would be called a super-spreader event by the Democrats.”
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“Typical liberal ‘do as I say, not as I do,’” Stefanik said. “This is what socialism looks like.”
“Located in Edgartown, Massachusetts, the waterfront dwelling was built in 2001, and it boasts seven bedrooms and eight and a half bathrooms, spread across 6,892 square feet,” House Beautiful magazine reported. “The Obamas purchased the home for $11.75 million, in late 2019, after renting it that summer.”
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