Obama's birthday draws criticism from right despite precautions
Even though Barack Obama plans to celebrate his 60th birthday adhering to all the current health guidelines, the former president has come under fire — mainly from the Republican camp — for throwing a large party amid a resurgence of coronavirus cases due to the Delta variant.
The celebration is to take place this weekend on the upscale island of Martha’s Vineyard, in full compliance with the guidelines from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the main US public health agency, according to unnamed sources quoted by the American press.
All the guests will need to be vaccinated and have tested negative for coronavirus, the sources said.
The event will take place outdoors, and a ‘Covid coordinator,’ whose exact role has not been specified, will be present on the premises.
In addition, the CDC said on Monday that Martha’s Vineyard, in the state of Massachusetts, was reporting only a moderate level of virus transmission, not enough to trigger the new recommendations from the health authorities that even vaccinated people should wear a mask indoors.
Nevertheless, Republican congressman Jim Jordan, a loyalist of Obama’s successor Donald Trump, took to Twitter to joke that ‘if this was President Trump’s birthday,’ Democrats would be saying ‘How can someone be so reckless?’ or ‘They’re killing people.’
‘Is there an exception for parties attended by rich liberal celebrities?’ demanded Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman.
‘Barack Obama will have a birthday bash with 700 guests on Saturday,’ tweeted Republican congressman Lance Gooden. ‘Will Democrats demand he require all of his guests wear masks?’
The Trump administration made headlines on numerous occasions for organizing maskless events in the White House or in government departments, or holding campaign rallies, including at the height of the pandemic and before vaccines were widely available.
In particular, a ceremony in honour of Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump appointed to the Supreme Court, was suspected of being a superspreader event that led to the infection of a dozen people, including Trump himself.
‘The former president — who is a huge advocate of getting vaccinated, of following the guidance of public health experts — would certainly advocate for himself as well,’ said White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Monday, noting that the event was being held in the open air and that numerous precautions were in place.
Current President Joe Biden — who served as Obama’s vice-president — is not expected to attend.