Bizarre US Embassy Independence Day extravaganza with 800 guests in Budapest

Every year on July 4 the US Embassy in Budapest has a garden party with a couple of dozen invited Hungarian guests to celebrate Independence Day. This has become a decade-long tradition.
It seems that Ambassador Cornstein likes to give big parties, I mean giant parties. On July 9 he invited 800 guests (yes, eight hundred) to a sit down dinner at the Budapest Congress Center to celebrate July 4th. Almost a week after the actual National Holiday there were Marine honor guards, flags and anthems. The keynote speaker was the Hungarian Prime Minister and the 81-year-old Ambassador introduced him as “my partner, and my friend, Viktor Orbán.”
I had to pinch myself. Authoritarian, illiberal, racist and anti-Semitic Orbán is the speaker? And that was just the beginning.
The US Embassy also invited 78-year-old Canadian singer Paul Anka with his 12-member band. As a longtime friend of the Cornsteins he sang them “I’ve got you under my skin” to mark their wedding anniversary. Orbán got the rendition of “My Way” with Hungary-inspired lyrics.
Paul Anka (left), Ambassador Cornstein and Prime Minister Orbán enjoying the show.
Cornstein cheapened the National Holiday by turning into a bizarre Las Vegas show; it even dwarfed Trump’s Mar-a-Lago parties at Palm Beach. Cornstein assured attendees in his introduction that private donors had paid for the festivities. The largest donor was US oil billionaire Alex Cranberg who owns Aspect Holdings. The company recently made a significant oil discovery. (Read more about the oil discovery here.)
Alex Cranberg of Aspect Holdings
Cranberg not only paid for the lavish event, he flew to Budapest to listen to Orbán’s speech. Aspect must have found an awful lot of oil at the Southern-Hungarian village of Istvándi, but in Hungary’s mafia economy we’ll never know how much oil is there. What happens in Orbán’s country, stays there.
György Lázár

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