Obama’s school­ing

Former pres­i­dent slams virus re­sponse in speech to uni stu­dents

The Advertiser - - WORLD -

WASHINGTON: Barack Obama has given a scathing crit­i­cism of the US re­sponse to the coronaviru­s, telling col­lege grad­u­ates in an on­line com­mence­ment ad­dress that the pan­demic shows that many of­fi­cials “aren’t even pre­tend­ing to be in charge”.

The former US pres­i­dent spoke on Show Me Your Walk, HBCU Edi­tion, a two-hour event for stu­dents grad­u­at­ing from his­tor­i­cally black col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties and broad­cast on YouTube, Face­book and Twit­ter. His re­marks were un­ex­pect­edly po­lit­i­cal, given the venue, and touched on cur­rent events be­yond the virus and its so­cial and eco­nomic im­pacts.

“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,” Mr Obama said. “A lot them aren’t even pre­tend­ing to be in charge.”

Later on Satur­day, dur­ing a sec­ond tele­vised com­mence­ment ad­dress for high school se­niors, Mr Obama panned “so-called grown-ups, in­clud­ing some with fancy ti­tles and im­por­tant jobs” who do “what feels good, what’s con­ve­nient, what’s easy”.

“Which is why things are so screwed up,” he said. Mr Obama did not name Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump or any other fed­eral or state of­fi­cials in ei­ther of his ap­pear­ances. But ear­lier this month, he harshly crit­i­cised Mr Trump’s han­dling of the pan­demic as an “ab­so­lute chaotic dis­as­ter” in a call with 3000 mem­bers of his ad­min­is­tra­tions ob­tained by Yahoo News.

The com­mence­ment re­marks were the lat­est sign that Mr Obama in­tends to play an in­creas­ingly ac­tive role in the com­ing elec­tion. He has gen­er­ally kept a low pro­file in the years since he left of­fice, even as Mr Trump has dis­par­aged him.

Mr Obama told sup­port­ers on the call he would be “spend­ing as much time as nec­es­sary and cam­paign­ing as hard as I can” for Joe Bi­den, who served as his vice pres­i­dent.

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