Former president slams virus response in speech to uni students
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.