Former President Barack Obama is scaling back his 60th birthday party plans. This comes after critics slammed him because he had planned to have nearly 500 guests attend the bash with some 200 hired staff on hand at his Martha’s Vineyard home as the coronavirus infection rates are on the rise.
Republicans pounced on the 44th president of the United States when the party plans leaked.
“If you or I did that, it would be called a super-spreader event by the Democrats,” Rep. Elise Stefanik told the New York Post. “Typical liberal ‘do as I say, not as I do’.”
It’s a bad look for Obama who attacked Donald Trump’s response to COVID-19. Especially considering the delta variant of the virus is driving up infection rates in every state.
A spokesperson for Barack Obama said he was scaling back the party plans to only include close family and friends. The event was going to be on Saturday at the Obamas‘ $12 million waterfront mansion on the island. And the guest included celebrities such as George Clooney, Steven Speilberg, and Oprah Winfrey, Fox News said. Other invitees were major Democratic donors and former White House staff members.
The New York Times said many invited guests had already arrived at Martha’s Vineyard when he canceled the event.
President Joe Biden, Obama’s vice president, will be at his holiday home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, on Saturday. He was not planning on attending the party.
Barack Obama Aides, White House Defend Party
Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who worked for Barack Obama as well, tried to justify the event during her daily briefing on Monday.
“I would note first that former President Obama has been a huge advocate of individuals getting vaccinated,” she said, according to the NY Post. “This event, according to all the public reporting, is outdoors and in a moderate zone. But in addition, there is testing requirements and other steps they are taking. which I’m sure they can outline for you in more detail.”
The Daily Mail said Barack Obama hired a “coronavirus coordinator” to make sure the event complied with CDC recommendations. And any guests hoping to attend the part would have to take a COVID-19 test and submit it to the coordinator before the event.
“Guys…buy a map,” Tommy Vietor, a former Obama spokesman, tweeted. “Martha’s Vineyard is an island. It’s not close to Provincetown.”
The vaccinated community in Provincetown, Mass., is currently fighting off a coronavirus outbreak, the NY Times said.
Other supporters tried to deflect or reframe the argument.
“I’m thrilled he’s celebrating his birthday out here,” activist Caroline Hunter told the Times. “I think we should be much more concerned about unvaccinated people.”
Though, health officials said vaccines are only part of the solution.
Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, told CNN on Sunday that big parties should be avoided. And anyone in large groups should “mask up.”
“Maybe there are some immunocompromised people there, who though they are vaccinated, are not fully protected, the dynamic changes. There will be a need for common sense there,” he said.