Democratic politicos living and working in the nation's capital are reportedly disgruntled following the fallout from former President Barack Obama's extravagant 60th birthday celebration — but not because the event may have caused a COVID outbreak.
No, they're irked because the backlash over the Aug. 7 bash has supposedly killed Washington, D.C.'s party scene.
"The bashing of the bash is having a chilling effect on the D.C. party scene as (especially Democratic) pols and their staffers scramble to figure out when and where — or even if — they can party again," Politico reported Friday.
Obama's lavish Martha's Vineyard event, originally slated to host more than 700 people, was "significantly scaled back" before launch two weeks ago after the former president was grilled for hosting a massive party amid a coronavirus surge. But critics pounced on Obama once again after it was revealed that his downsized party wasn't so downsized, after all.
And for good reason. It just so happened that the coronavirus numbers shot up in the area one week following the bash. Two weeks later, Martha's Vineyard Hospital was reportedly "bursting at the seams" while also seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases.
The backlash and unfortunate result has apparently made Democratic party-throwers in D.C. think twice before hosting their own shindigs.
"What we could do six weeks ago, we can't do now," Democratic strategist and Biden presidential campaign alum Adrienne Elrod lamented. "We have to be so cognizant because Republicans are looking for any reason to call us hypocrites or to call us liars."
"Who wants to throw a party right now when Obama hired a doctor to make sure everyone's vaccinated and passes a COVID test and he still gets shamed for it?" John Arundel, former associate publisher of Washington Life magazine, added.
"There's a stigma to throwing any kind of event," he said. "The optics of throwing the party or being at the party, it can be chilling."
Politico noted, "Just weeks ago, D.C. looked like it was back." But now some big events have been put on ice:
The French, Italian and British embassies marked the return to life by opening their residences to hundreds of guests with Champagne and oysters. The Hill's editor at large Steve Clemons, lobbyist Heather Podesta and French Ambassador Philippe Étienne were planning to host another lavish party at the French ambassador's residence in September, but they've decided to push it back to November. The U.K. embassy is holding smaller events in September.
Some are trudging ahead, albeit carefully.
Event planner Kimberly Stroud told the outlet she is still planning to put on multiple 200-300 guest galas in the fall — including a film festival gala to honor House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) and the Halcyon Awards gala — but with extra precautions such as proof of vaccination and social distancing.
"We're not footloose and fancy-free yet," Stroud noted.