This week, Barack Obama will mark his seventh decade in style. On Thursday, the 44th President of the United States will celebrate his 60th birthday with a dazzling guest list of stars rumored to include Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Spielberg, George Clooney and an array of other A-listers in his home of $ 11.75 million on Martha’s Vineyard.
Among the festivities planned at the 7,000-square-foot seven-bedroom home with a private beach and 30 acres of gardens, one source reports, “It’s gonna be a big one.”
The chic Massachusetts vacation destination is abuzz with speculation about the party. Nearly 500 guests are expected with a team of 200 who complete drinks and make canapes (expect Obama’s favorite fried chicken and local specialty, lobster rolls). Entertainment will include the Seattle Pearl Jam grunges and a local hairstylist has been put on standby to style them ahead of their performance.
Obama is known for sharing his playlists and this year is a mix of classics like Doo Wop (That Thing) by Lauryn Hill and Holding Back the Years by Simply Red (feel your age?) And new songs by Londoners Jessie Ware and Little Simz. . To mark the occasion, HBO will be releasing the first of a three-part documentary special, Obama: In Pursuit of a More Perfect Union, in the US today with a UK release date to be announced soon.
The Obamas pay for the party with their personal funds (their net worth is around $ 135 million) and instead of bringing gifts, guests are encouraged to consider donating to programs that support boys and youth. men of color and their families in the United States, empower girls around the world and equip the next generation of community leaders, including the Obama Foundation’s Global Leadership Programs.
In an effort to ensure that super-network doesn’t mean super-broadcasting, only those who have been vaccinated are invited (Michelle Obama has been active in the campaign to get Americans vaccinated). The party will also be held outside and a dedicated Covid coordinator will apparently try to ensure due deference is given to pandemic procedures. However, the former president has been criticized for throwing a big party when the Delta variant is on the rise.
As President, Obama has held equally prestigious affairs on his 50th and 55th birthdays. Of course, presidential showbiz hobnobbing is nothing new, but the Obamas have taken it to new heights. Ten years ago, Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock performed at the White House while guests enjoyed a barbecue in the Rose Garden. When he turned 55, the then president rubbed shoulders with everyone from Jay Z and Beyoncé to Samuel L Jackson and George Lucas. The Obamas also hosted Hillary Clinton, Michael Jordan, Paul McCartney and Janelle Monáe on the 50th birthday of the former first lady in 2014.
Obama’s daughters are also expected. Malia, 23, graduated from Harvard earlier this summer. Sasha, 20, is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. One name not on the guest list is Joe Biden. Obama’s former right-hand man is too busy running the country. According to a White House statement, “Although President Biden cannot attend … he is looking forward to catching up with former President Obama soon and properly welcoming him into the over-sixty club.”
Another is Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, who shares a birthday with Obama. She turns 40 on August 4 and has hired Oprah’s party organizer Colin Cowie to host her ‘low-key celebrations’ at her home and at Harry’s £ 11million mansion in Santa Barbara, Calif. .
As Meghan and Obama both know, a party is a chance to show your place in the world and the rager of Martha’s Vineyard is the latest reminder of Obama’s journey from the presidential stranger to winning the White House with the promise to shake up the establishment, to the quintessential insider with a taste for the high life.
Since leaving office in 2016, Barack and Michelle have earned more than enough to follow their A-list friends. Over the past four years, the Obamas have proven to be contented behemoths. Whether it’s books, podcasts, or shows, everything they touch seems to turn to gold. For eight years in Washington, he has been able to calm down in a way unmatched by any president since JFK. Today, the Obamas are reaping the rewards.
Political interventions have been rare. Nowadays, a public statement by Obama is as likely to be a list of the best books he has read this year as a serious warning about the dangers of Donald Trump. For David Garrow, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, the Obamas’ penchant for fame is somewhat of a mystery. “Person who knew him before 2004 [when he became a national political figure] and absolutely no one who knew her would ever have anticipated or predicted this apparent need to befriend so many world celebrities, ”he says.
Obama set the tone for his post-presidential life early on. Weeks after leaving the White House, photos of the ex-president kitesurfing on Necker Island with Richard Branson were released. Outside, Obama was visibly overwhelmed by the stress of the world’s hardest work. There was a new, rested-looking Obama who was living his best life. And from the Lake Como cruise with Clooney to the conversation with Oprah, the world-class cloning hasn’t stopped.
But Obama’s approach to life after the White House is at odds with his earlier self. Young Obama has shown an unusual introspection for an aspiring politician. In the early years of his presidency, he was more detached and self-critical than most of the other commanders in chief, admitting to “screwing up”. Over the years, however, the Thoughtful Stranger has grown into a more confident person, perhaps a coping mechanism to deal with the endless barrage of criticism directed at the Oval Office.
Trump’s election was a bewildering repudiation of much of what Obama stood for and did during his tenure. For four years, Obama had to witness the dismantling of much of his legacy. Is it any surprise that he was looking for distractions? To make matters worse, Joe Biden – once seen as a lightweight Robin for Obama’s Batman – could end up being a more important president than Obama. “It may not be a pleasant prospect for him to contemplate,” says Garrow.
And so the Obamas are unlikely to stop living the high life anytime soon. Michelle Obama has been asked several times if she will ever run for political office. The answer has always been “no”. And the reason has always been the same: she is not interested in politics. And these days, her husband is also too busy spreading his wings to have time to argue in the White House.