While it feels like hardly a day passes in which Donald Trump doesn't try to blame the Obama administration for the failures of his presidency, Barack Obama rarely publicly criticizes his successor. In response to Trump's attempts to popularize his vague and ridiculous "Obamagate" conspiracy theory, Obama tweeted a single word: "Vote." But during his commencement speech for graduates of the nation's historically black colleges and universities, Obama leveled a clear criticism of the Trump administration's pandemic response—even if he didn't mention the sitting president by name.
"More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing," he said during the digital address. "A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge."
Obama criticized Trump's handling of the coronavirus outbreak, which has found the US becoming the center of the global pandemic, with nearly 90,000 deaths and 1.5 million confirmed infections, during a phone call with alums of his administration last week. The ex-president called the Trump administration's response, which has been marked by testing failures and Trump's constant downplaying of the severity of the threat, an "absolute chaotic disaster."
In his address to graduates of the nation's HBCUs, Obama also highlighted the disproportionate toll the outbreak has taken on black communities. "A disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country," he said. "We see it in the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on our communities."
The former president also gave a second commencement address Saturday, as part of the special digital event "Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020," hosted by LeBron James. "America's gone through tough times before," he told graduates, "and each time we came out stronger, usually because of a new generation, young people like you, learned from past mistakes and figured out how to make things better."
Congrats to the high school Class of 2020, as well as to the teachers, coaches, and most of all, parents and family who’ve guided you along the way. Thanks for letting me be part of your big day! pic.twitter.com/RjYvHs2BhC
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) May 17, 2020
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