Former President Barack Obama celebrated his 60th birthday last week by holding a massive party at his luxurious Martha's Vineyard mansion.
The party attracted the attention of both national and international press, not just because it was held amid the coronavirus pandemic and as millions faced eviction, but also because numerous celebrities were in attendance.
Among others, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, Jennifer Hudson, Erykah Badu and Bruce Springsteen reportedly partied with the former president.
According to independent journalist Matt Taibbi, the party was Obama's "F*ck it! moment.
Taibbi, who publishes on substack, wrote that Obama "extended middle fingers in all directions" by holding the party, as if to show the world who he really is.
At the last minute, citing COVID-19 concerns, Obama decided to scale back the party and disinvited B-list celebrities and most of his former aides and staffers.
According to Taibbi, "Obama giving the shove-off to his most devoted (if also scummy and greedy) aides is also such a perfect metaphor for the way he slammed the door in the faces of the millions of ordinary voters who once so desperately believed in him."
Just A 'Common Swindler'
When he first ran for president in 2008, Obama famously vowed to disrupt the status quo, but did the opposite, disappointing millions of Americans, according to Taibbi, who argued that Obama paved the way for Donald Trump.
"Obama was set up to be the greatest of American heroes, but proved to be a common swindler and one of the great political liars of all time -- he fooled us all."
"He sold us out, and it’s time to start talking about the role he played in bringing about the hopeless cynical mess that is modern America," Taibbi added.
As Taibbi pointed out in his piece, much of the mainstream press seemingly saw no issue with Obama holding the party, which one outlet described as "the event of the season."
Still, some critical voices on both sides of the political spectrum emerged to criticize the former president.
Pulitzer prize-winning reporter Glenn Greenwald, for instance, noted at the time that the party is being held "as millions face evictions after Obama presided over a massive foreclose crisis."
He contrasted Obama's post-presidency to that of Jimmy Carter, who dedicated his life since leaving the White House to humanitarian work.
Some public intellectuals share Taibbi's opinion regarding Obama's legacy.
Notably, Dr. Cornel West has often spoken about what he sees as Obama's greatest failures.
He once argued that Obama's decision to bail out Wall Street amid the financial crisis -- coupled with his hawkish foreign policy and refusal to introduce systemic changes to the U.S. political system -- enabled the rise of "right-wing populism," which ultimately transformed into the MAGA movement.
"The reign of Obama did not produce the nightmare of Donald Trump -- but it did contribute to it," West wrote in The Guardian.