Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Obama: Mad as Hatter for Throwing Lavish Wonderland Halloween Party?

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Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Barack Obama hosted a dress-up fantasy tea party while millions of Americans went without the very basic necessities of real life.

A shocking story published in the New York Post paints a vulgar picture:

A White House “Alice in Wonderland” costume ball — put on by Johnny Depp and Hollywood director Tim Burton — proved to be a Mad-as-a-Hatter idea that was never made public for fear of a political backlash during hard economic times, according to a new tell-all.

“The Obamas,” by New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor, tells of the first Halloween party the first couple feted at the White House in 2009. It was so over the top that “Star Wars” creator George Lucas sent the original Chewbacca to mingle with invited guests.

The guests of honor for this surreal soiree were filmmaker Tim Burton and his frequent collaborator, Johnny Depp. The Post reports their contribution to the White House weirdness:

Tim Burton decorated it “in his signature creepy-comic style. His film version was about to be released, and he had turned the room into the Mad Hatter’s tea party, with a long table set with antique-looking linens, enormous stuffed animals in chairs, and tiered serving plates with treats like bone-shaped meringue cookies,” reports the book, which The Post purchased at a Manhattan bookstore.

“Fruit punch was served in blood vials at the bar. Burton’s own Mad Hatter, the actor Johnny Depp, presided over the scene in full costume, standing up on a table to welcome everyone in character.”

Apparently the party was an all-ages affair, as the Obama offspring were present at the celebration:

The Obamas’ daughters, Malia and Sasha, then 11 and 8 respectively, “sat at the table, surrounded by a gaggle of their friends, and then proceeded to the next delight, a magic show in the East Room.”

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports that the President and First Lady didn’t join the celebrities in donning Alice in Wonderland costumes. Reportedly, Michelle Obama wore a leopard print top, while the President dressed in business casual: a sweater and khakis. 

Despite his drab dress, there is ample proof of Barack Obama’s dictatorial mien (see the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act) and its concomitant disregard for the suffering of the plebs (see the $4 million 2011 Hawaiian Christmas vacation) without the additional evidence presented by this bizarre Halloween bash.’s take on the haughtiness and “let them eat cake” attitude is worth reading:

Meanwhile, others weren’t quite as lucky. While President Obama was serving up punch alongside Johnny Depp, the employment status of young black men in America that month was at 44.9 percent — only one out of every two African-Americans under 24 had jobs. And while thousands of DC homeless were going cold on the streets of the nation’s capital, Obama invited into his home an actor donned in the original Hollywood Chewbacca costume, after Star Wars director George Lucas dispatched entertainment of his own to go into the White House.

But even one so full of sangfroid and committed to incessantly banging the drums to keep the war between the classes at a fever pitch as is Barack Obama understands how news of such a glitzy, Hollywood Halloween party would play on Main Street. Witness this claim printed in the new tell-all penned by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor:

White House officials were so nervous about how a splashy, Hollywood-esque party would look to jobless Americans — or their representatives in Congress, who would soon vote on health care — that the event was not discussed publicly and Burton’s and Depp’s contributions went unacknowledged.

While the trip down the rabbit hole took place two years ago, the tale is gaining traction since the publishing of Kantor’s exposé earlier this month.

Among the many mentionable insights into the Obama White House, there is one aspect in particular of the Alice in Wonderland party story that likely has legs that will carry the story all the way into the general election in November. Given the fact that President Obama is so concerned about security that he endows himself with the absolute power to indefinitely detain citizens perceived as “threats” to the homeland, it is surprising that people could get into the White House without any record of their visit. Politico records the apparent official oversight:

The White House is under fire for reportedly trying to downplay the role that two Hollywood stars played at a 2009 Halloween party, with press secretary Jay Carney today calling the media's reporting on the incident "irresponsible" and denying reports of an attempted cover-up. But no record of the two stars, Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, appears in the official White House visitors logs.

An administration source said that entertainers are generally not recorded in the visitors logs. "Entertainers and production crews who are working events are generally not WAVED in since they are not guests visiting the White House, they are working," the official said.

That’s not exactly true if information reported later in the Politico piece is to be believed:

Other stars — even when they are the entertainment — have appeared in the logs. A May 11th poetry reading by the rapper Common, for example, was logged. So were musicians Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder when they played at President Obama's 50th birthday. Singer Beyonce Knowles, however, does not appear in the visitor logs when she performed at a 2010 state dinner.

The story published in the Daily Mail echoes Politico’s account:

The records, which the Obama administration posts online in an effort to promote transparency, do not list the two stars who helped host the party that came under attack given the disparity between Hollywood opulence and tough economic times.

The White House furiously denied Monday there was any cover-up or attempt to downplay Burton or Depp's roles, pointing to the fact that the media attended the event and that reports of Depp's attendance surfaced on fan websites and local press.

As Republican National Committee spokesman Joe Pounder posited, "The most transparent administration somehow forgot to log Johnny Depp coming to the White House? Apparently Obama's promise of transparency depends on the day, the event and what they don't want to disclose."

So, although his abuses may not quite qualify him (yet) as a modern-day Nero, Barack Obama may be guilty of fiddling with White House visitor logs in order to shield his family’s excessive fantasy fetes from the attention of the common people.

Photo of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter: AP Images

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