Speed Reads


Obama's star-studded 60th birthday party pared back to 'family and close friends' amid Delta surge

It's former President Barack Obama's party, and he can cancel if he wants to. Of course Obama, having planned his 60th birthday party for months, almost certainly did not want to significantly scale back Saturday's big celebration on Martha's Vineyard, but spokeswoman Hannah Hankins said Wednesday morning that "due to the new spread of the Delta variant over the past week," the Obamas "have decided to significantly scale back the event to include only family and close friends." Obama is "appreciative of others sending their birthday wishes from afar and looks forward to seeing people soon," Hankins added. 

The hundred of guests expected to attend included George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, and Oprah Winfrey, The New York Times reports, and "many invitees had already arrived on Martha's Vineyard" when Obama announced the change of plans. Obama had appeared eager to proceed with the party even as the virulent Delta strain prompted cities and states to reimpose mask mandates and institute other anti-coronavirus measures.

"They've been concerned about the virus from the beginning, asking invited guests if they had been vaccinated, requesting that they get a test proximate to the event," David Axelrod, a former top Obama adviser, tells the Times. "But when this was planned, the situation was quite different. So they responded to the changing circumstances."