Joe Biden does not want to attend the huge celebration for Barack Obama’s 60th birthday. Allegedly due to time constraints. In fact, the White House fears bad press – and the Delta variant.
In and of itself, it is not the job of the incumbent US president’s press secretary to defend a former president or to comment on his affairs at all. Joe Biden’s spokeswoman Jen Psaki felt compelled to say something about the huge celebration planned for the weekend for today’s 60th birthday of Barack Obama. Because the Biden government is facing growing criticism of its health management in view of the exploding corona numbers in the USA.
In particular, many of the conservative US media and Republican politicians are increasingly accusing the incumbent president of not having the corona situation under control. So it was no coincidence that the “Fox News” reporter Peter Doocy used the opportunity in the White House to bring Jen Psaki into an explanation problem as planned.
“Is President Obama setting the wrong example of how seriously Covid-19 has to be taken when he’s throwing a birthday party with hundreds of guests this week?” It seemed like Psaki was expecting this question. She answers, but not freely, instead reading from her script word for word. Obama has always fought to get people vaccinated, she says. The celebration on Martha’s Vineyard Island in the state of Massachusetts would take place in an area that has no high risk of infection. The event is not “indoor”, but “outdoor”, guests are tested and there are other safety precautions, the details of which can be obtained from Barack Obama’s press team.
Afraid of the wrong message
In fact, the Biden government is well aware of the explosiveness of this 60th birthday. The day before, the White House had announced that the incumbent president could not attend the celebrations, allegedly for scheduling reasons. Biden would therefore meet with Obama at a later date.
The fear of sending the wrong message is likely to be the real reason: Presumably 500 prominent and wealthy guests with allegedly 200 employees are celebrating a big party on an island in the middle of the delta-corona wave, isolated from the rest of the country.
Obama bought a huge estate on Martha’s Vineyard for several million US dollars in 2019.
For example, while the White House has so far been unable to find a way to save millions of tenants from threatened homelessness because they can no longer pay their rents due to corona, Joe Biden can afford such a celebration and, above all, the pictures and reporting.
The restrictions are currently increasing again across the country. In New York, for example, only those who have been vaccinated will be allowed to visit restaurants, gyms and other indoor activities in the future. Joe Biden has now achieved the goal he had announced for June of vaccinating 70 percent of American adults. But that’s just the average. In many states, vaccination rates are still poor. There is still little progress, especially among the younger generation.
How much pressure Joe Biden is under is made clear in a televised address in which he quarreled with governors who would do too little about the pandemic: “If you’re not helping, at least avoid the people who are trying to doing the right thing, “he said. Then it became even clearer: “Only two states, Florida and Texas, are responsible for a third of all new Covid-19 cases in the entire country.”
Lurking for missteps
It’s about more than just a best friend’s missed party for Joe Biden. The success of his presidency is largely related to his pandemic management. He definitely has to score points with voters who have turned away disappointed, who feel left behind. Everything about his policy is designed to win back this disappointed section of the middle class for the Democrats.
His first test for this will be the mid-term elections next year. Biden must try to avoid any opportunity to report on the aloofness of the Washington elite. So basically he is not allowed to celebrate at all.
Trump-affiliated media in particular are happy to take on such topics. The notorious “Fox News” commentator Tucker Carlson is currently in Budapest for a week. From there he wants to interview the right-wing conservative Hungarian President Viktor Orbán, among others. He insisted on taking a position there immediately on the planned Obama break and joked whether the 200 employees would be needed to show elephants around at this “super spreader event”.
Tucker Carlson himself is also attending a major event this weekend. As part of his week in Hungary, after meeting Orbán, he will speak at the MCC Feszt, a conservative political event. In addition to discussion panels on the “Role of literature in preserving native-speaking culture” and “Social questions about gender, child protection and sex education”, there will also be a program item called: “The world according to Tucker Carlson”, the world from the point of view of Tucker Carlson.
After all, the same conditions seem to apply in Budapest as for Barack Obama’s 60th birthday. “The MCC Feszt program is only accessible to visitors with a vaccination card. If you cannot prove your immunity, you can be refused entry to the festival program without compensation or refund of fees,” read the website. In addition, the wearing of masks and keeping a safe distance should be observed in full. So Carlson seems to have to adapt. He once called the wearing of masks a “sign of political obedience”. People who wear them are “zealous and neurotics”.
On Donald Trump’s 75th birthday, which the ex-president also celebrated in June in his golf club in New Jersey with many guests and without masks, there was no outcry like at Barack Obama’s celebration.