Too Shocking for Words: A White House "Alice In Wonderland" Costume Ball in 2009 As Country Sinks into Recession

It’s tin ear time again at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Then again, when isn’t it tin ear time at the White House?

No sooner had the $4 million tax-payer-funded family vacation in Hawaii ended, than the new book by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor’s, The Obamas, has revealed the long, l-o-n-g distance between the Obamas on the one hand, and reality on the other.


As the nation sank ever deeper into the 2009 recession, the Royal Couple — sorry, the First Couple — decided that Halloween 2009 was just the right moment to hold a lavish costume ball for their first All Hallows Eve in residence. Why wait till Thanksgiving, or Christmas?  Pull out all the stops for the festival of pumpkins and candy corn, according to The New York Post:

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 Obamas’ daughters, Malia and Sasha, then 11 and 8 respectively, “sat at the table, surrounded by a gaggle of their friends, and then proceeded to the next delight, a magic show in the East Room.”

Class warfare, anyone?

H/t: Robert A. Hall,


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