By Matt Taibbi
On the road from stirring symbol of hope and change to the Fat Elvis of neoliberalism, birthday-partying Barack Obama sold us all out.
It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.
— Leo Tolstoy
“Even Scaled Back,” wrote Vanity Fair, “Barack Obama’s Birthday Bash Is the Event of the Season.” Not even the famed glossy Bible of the unapologetic rich seemed sure of whether to write Obama’s Birthday bash straight or as an Onion headline: what did the “Event of the Season” mean during a pandemic?
A former president flying half the world’s celebrities to spend three days in a maskless ring-kissing romp at a $12 million Martha’s Vineyard mansion, at a moment when only a federal eviction ban prevented the outbreak of a national homelessness crisis, was already an all-time “Fuck the Optics” news event, and that was before the curveball. Because of what even the New York Times called “growing concerns” over how gross the mega-party looked, not least for the Joe Biden administration burdened with asking the nation for sober sacrifice while his ex-boss raised the roof with movie stars in tropical shirts, advisers prevailed upon the 44th president to reconsider the bacchanal. But characteristically, hilariously, Obama didn’t cancel his party, he merely uninvited those he considered less important, who happened to be almost entirely his most trusted former aides.