A New York Times star columnist has lashed Barack Obama for axing people who helped him to the top from his lavish 60th birthday guest list in favor of A-list stars.
Maureen Dowd branded Obama ‘Barack Antoinette’ – a reference to the out-of-touch renaissance queen – and likened him to Jay Gatsby, the shallow people-pleaser from F Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby in her scathing piece, published Saturday.
She highlighted how the former president cut his ex-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and former campaign strategist David Axelrod from the original 600-person guest list, despite both helping him secure his presidential victory.
Dowd was also scathing of Obama’s decision to disinvite Caroline and Teddy Kennedy – key members of the Democratic political dynasty whose endorsement in the run up to the 2008 presidency was seen as critical to his eventual choice as the party’s nominee.
Those who did make the cut after surging COVID rates forced Obama to slash his guest list included Beyoncé, John Legend, Steven Spielberg and Bradley Cooper – none of whom knew Obama before he ascended to the presidency.
They danced the night away at the president’s $12 million compound in Martha’s Vineyard – with Dowd saying the ostentatious display was also damaging to the Democrat party as a whole.
She explained: ‘The party crystallized the caricature of the Democratic Party that Joe Biden had to fight against in order to get elected,
‘It was as far from Flint and Scranton as you can imagine: an orgy of the 1 percent — private jets, Martha’s Vineyard, limousine liberals and Hollywood whoring.’
Some guests cracked jokes about being cut from the guest list, with Caroline Kennedy telling the Times: ‘I would have disinvited me if I was him.’
Dowd speculated that some of the wisecracks had been deployed in a bid to mask guests’ hurt feelings.
She also highlighted how comedian Larry David, 74, was genuinely relieved to be disinvited from the paired-back party, having feared he’d be expected to perform a stand-up routine.
‘When he [Obama’s assistant] told me I was eighty-sixed from the party, I was so relieved I screamed, ‘Thank you! Thank you!’ He must have thought I was insane. Then I hung up the phone, poured myself a drink and finished my crossword puzzle,’ David told the NYT.
‘I think the nouveaux riches Obamas are seriously tone-deaf,’ André Leon Talley was quoted saying in Dowd’s column.
Other guests who were expected to be at the party, like Nancy Pelosi, who helped pass Obamacare, did not make an appearance. Some, like business mogul David Geffen, who has hosted the Obamas in numerous vacations, didn’t even get an
Maureen Dowd, a Pulitzer winner and New York Times columnist, slammed Barak Obama’s decision to disinvite old friends and former staff who helped him build his political career in order to make space for celebrities and big names
Dowd compared Obama’s party to Gatsby’s, but highlighted Gatsby opened his doors to the uninvited, while Obama closed his to his closest friends
The former president disinvited his former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel and chief campaign strategist David Axelrod. Dowd argues they were fundamental during his presidency and yet were replaced on his party by A-list celebrities
‘One difference is that Gatsby opened his house to the uninvited. Obama closed his house to many of the invited after getting flak for hosting ‘a celebrity mosh pit,’ as Stephen Colbert called it, while officials were telling people to mask back up,’ Dowd wrote in her column
Obama’s vigorous social circle demanded invitations be sent to political figures and celebrities alike. Pictured having brunch at Beach Road in Vineyard Heaven the day after the party
But Obama had to scale down his guest list from an initial 500 names, amid criticism that it was irresponsible to have such a big event when COVID-19 is still a risk
Teddy Kennedy (pictured) and Caroline Kennedy endorsed Obama in 2008, helping him win his primary against Hillary Clinton. They were also disinvited
‘I would have disinvited me if I was him,’ joke Caroline Kennedy (left) about Obama’s decision to retire his invitation
Nancy Pelosi (pictured) who was a decisive figure in helping pass Obamacare was not seen in the party
Dowd compares Obama to Gatsby, arguing that while the fictional character wanted to impress Daisy, his love interest, with a lavish celebration, Obama threw a party because ‘being cool is important to him.’
‘One difference is that Gatsby opened his house to the uninvited. Obama closed his house to many of the invited after getting flak for hosting ‘a celebrity mosh pit,’ as Stephen Colbert called it, while officials were telling people to mask back up.’
She called him ‘Barack Antoinette,’ likening his ostentatious and ‘new-rich’ celebration to those of the infamous fallen queen of France.
Dowd went on to condemn Obama’s passive nature throughout his presidency, and his current seemingly fascination with the entertainment industry, citing the deal between his production company and Netflix to work on several documents and movies, his podcast with Bruce Springsteen and the book adaptation.
Former staff who were disinvited are reportedly extremely hurt to have seen VIP personalities like John Legend and George Clooney, celebrating with who once was their boss, and close friend.
Musician Erykah Badu, who attended the party, leaked a video while she was on the dancefloor with the Obamas dancing behind her
Michelle Obama (left), with musician H.E.R (center), and his husband Barack Obama (right) at his 60th birthday party on Saturday
Badu apologized to Obama on Twitter after having shared a video of herself in the party, saying that she had been a ‘terrible guest’
Response to Dowd’s column in social media has been mixed. While some praised her for daring to criticize Obama, others labeled her as a ‘Karen,’ a name that has come to symbolize white, belligerent and privileged women.
A Twitter user theorized that the motive of Dowd’s column wasn’t other but the fact that she was jealous of those who did go to the bash, as she wasn’t invited.
‘Finally a perfect name for the world’s biggest hypocrite!’ Some Twitter users praised Dowd’s column
‘I think the nouveaux riches Obamas are seriously tone-deaf,’ said André Leon Talley
Obama’s decision to throw a party amid the rise in cases of a new, more contagious variant of COVID-19, sparked criticism
A twitter user theorized that the motive of Dowd’s column wasn’t other but the fact that she was jealous of those who did go to the bash, as she wasn’t invited
Other user pointed out that Dowd’s criticism was primarily politically driven and that Republicans had plenty of super ‘super-spreader’ events that have become the norm and do not receive the backlash that Obama’s party did.
DailyMail.com reported at least 74 on Martha’s Vineyard tested positive for COVID-19 after Obama’s party, more cases than in any week since April, but it is unclear at this point if there is a link between the two.
Martha’s Vineyard Hospital spokeswoman, Marissa Lefebvre, told The Boston Herald: ‘This is the busiest time on the island. It’s impossible for us to know at this point.’
FOX’s Joe Concha slammed media for turning a blind eye to ‘Obamapalooza’ but calling out other ‘super-spreader’ events.
Celebrities such as Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade, Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Steven Spielberg and Bradley Cooper attended the mask-less party with requirement of vaccination.
Badu apologized to Obama on Twitter after having shared a video of herself in the party, saying that she had been a ‘terrible guest,’ and an example of how not to behave.