Fact-Checking Obama’s Secret Halloween Party in 2009

This story from the new book on the Obamas by New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor is lighting up the Internets today:

In October 2009, the national unemployment rate was 10 percent, a national health care plan was at the center of debate over the cost of entitlements in an indebted nation and bank bailouts had launched a brand new political movement called the Tea Party.

So when the White House decided to host an extravagant, Hollywood-created Halloween Party decorated by Tim Burton and featuring Johnny Depp in his Mad Hatter role from Burton’s acclaimed “Alice in Wonderland,” the event was deliberately held on the down-low.

In fact, author Jodi Kantor, in her new tell-all book, “The Obamas,” wrote the White House was more than just a little concerned about the way the costume party would affect the public’s perceptions.

“White House officials were so nervous about how a splashy, Hollywoodesque 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 and Depp’s contributions went unacknowledged.”

The event, so over the top that “Star Wars” creator George Lucas loaned out the original Chewbacca costume from the legendary film for an unknown participant to wear, was covered by a front event for the press in which the first couple handed out candy to trick or treaters. The president did not don a costume to that event, but first lady Michelle Obama wore a leopard-print sweater, cat ears and sparkly eye makeup.

I assume we’ll hear more about this from both the White House and Kantor, but how “down-low” can a party be if Wonkette posted on it using photos from the official White House Flickr feed?

So, the White House was worried that word of Johnny Depp’s involvement would leak out and make the president look bad, but photos of the president with Chewie were OK? Over to you, Jodi, to see if there’s anything more to this revelation.

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