Earlier this week, we reported that former President Barack Obama was planning a massive party this weekend with hundreds of people in celebration of his 60th birthday. Now, however, Obama has backtracked and downsized the party after receiving tons of criticism for it.
The New York Times stated that “the party plans had been months in the making and many invitees had already arrived on Martha’s Vineyard” when Obama changed his mind and downsized the guest list to just family and close friends.
“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,” the former president’s spokesperson Hannah Hankins said in a statement. “President Obama is appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon.”
The party was going to take place at Obama’s home on Martha’s Vineyard, and there was even going to be a “COVID coordinator” on the premises to ensure protocols were followed. As the Delta variant of COVID-19 surged, however, the optics of such a big event began to look worse and worse.
“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.”
One staffer involved with the party had previously said that planning the event was proving to be a “nightmare.”
“His birthday party is insane,” the staffer said. “His bash is a nightmare to pull off this time of year on the tiny island — especially due to the lack of labor because of the coronavirus. What is he thinking?”
Obama turned 60 on Wednesday, and the party had been scheduled to happen this coming Saturday. It remains to be seen just how small whatever event takes place for Obama’s birthday will be.