Over the weekend, famed New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd pilloried former President Barack Obama over his 60th birthday bash which was full to the brim with Hollywood glitterati while some political figures who had helped Obama rise to power were either left out or disinvited. Dowd described the party as “an orgy of the 1 percent — private jets, Martha’s Vineyard, limousine liberals and Hollywood whoring.”
Dowd began her attack by likening Obama to the fictional Jay Gatsby of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic “The Great Gatsby”:
Jay Gatsby gave big, lavish, new-money parties at his sprawling mansion on the water because he wanted to seem cool. He wanted Daisy to notice him. Barack Obama gave a big, lavish, new-money party at his sprawling mansion on the water because he wanted to seem cool. Being cool is important to him.
Dowd quoted fashion journalist and former American editor-at-large of Vogue magazine Andre Leon Talley on the Obamas: “I think the nouveaux riches Obamas are seriously tone-deaf. We all love Beyoncé. But people have so many things to worry about with Covid, voting rights, climate warming. People are afraid of being evicted from their homes. And the Obamas are in Marie Antoinette, tacky, let-them-eat-cake mode. They need to remember their humble roots.”
Dowd gushed for a moment, “Obama was a cool cat as a candidate in 2008,” then segued, “but after he won, he grew increasingly lofty. Now he’s so far above the ground, he doesn’t know what’s cool. You can’t be cool if you diss the people who took risks for you when you were a junior senator — only a few years out from paying off your student loans — taking on the fearsome Clinton machine.”
Dowd snapped, “Whether the party was 500 or 300 or 30, Obama should have made sure to have the people there who made the moment possible, the ones who worked so hard to get him elected and cement his legacy.”
Dowd referenced some of the political world’s no-shows at the birthday bash, including David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, Caroline Kennedy, and David Geffen.
In March 2018, prior to Obama and his wife Michelle inking their multi-year partnership deal with the internet streaming service Netflix two months later, a senior adviser to Obama enthused, “President and Mrs. Obama have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire. Throughout their lives, they have lifted up stories of people whose efforts to make a difference are quietly changing the world for the better. As they consider their future personal plans, they continue to explore new ways to help others tell and share their stories.”
Netflix announced in April 2020 that the Obamas’ company Higher Ground Productions’ latest film was a documentary celebrating Michelle Obama, following her as she traveled around the country to promote her bestselling memoir, “Becoming.”