It was the tea party the Obamas just couldn’t resist.
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 book reveals how any official announcement of the glittering affair — coming at a time when Tea Party activists and voters furious over the lagging economy, 10-percent unemployment rate, bank bailouts and Obama’s health-care plan were staging protests — quickly vanished down the rabbit hole.
“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,” the book says.
However, the White House made certain that more humble Halloween festivities earlier that day — for thousands of Washington-area schoolkids — were well reported by the press corps.
Then the Obamas went inside, where an invitation-only affair for children of military personnel and White House administrators unfolded in the East Room.
Unbeknownst to reporters, the State Dining Room had also been transformed into a secretive White House Wonderland.
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.”
The giveaway here is the secrecy. In criminal law an attempt to conceal evidence requires a jury instruction called “consciousness of guilt.” This doesn’t involve a crime but the secrecy shows that the White House was doing something they knew they shouldn’t be doing.
This is not an isolated incident. Even before Obama was elected we saw his love for the perks of power. The Obamas personify what Sarah Palin said about “politicians who arrive in Washington as men and women of modest means leave as millionaires.”
But it’s not enough for them that they’re making money. They seem to feel entitled to living in luxury. The weekly White House concerts and parties started immediately after he was inaugurated. Even though the president lives in the equivalent of a 5-star hotel and has his own private resort at Camp David that hasn’t been good enough. The First Family takes regular vacations to expensive resorts where they hobnob with the rich and shameless.
There is a term for people like that:
nouveau riche [ˌnuːvəʊ ˈriːʃ (French)
(often plural and preceded by the) a person who has acquired wealth recently and is regarded as vulgarly ostentatious or lacking in social graces