Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

top
Capital News
Former US President Barack Obama has kept a low profile since leaving office in January 2017 and rarely speaks out publicly © AFP/File / Christof STACHE

Top stories

Leaders ‘aren’t even pretending to be in charge’: Obama

Washington, United States, May 17 – Former US President Barack Obama on Saturday criticized the response to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging America, in what was widely regarded as a rare public rebuke of his successor Donald Trump.

His remarks came as he spoke at two virtual commencements for high school and university students locked down instead of celebrating their graduations, a rite of passage every spring in the United States.

“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,” Obama told graduates from several dozen historically black colleges and universities at the first ceremony.

“A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge,” he said as he discussed the implications of the pandemic during the online event, without naming any specific leaders.

That celebration was followed by a second, star-studded prime-time ceremony for high school students in which Obama continued along the same lines, telling students to step up where leaders had failed.

“If the world is going to get better, it’s going to be up to you,” he said.

“Doing what feels good, what’s convenient, what’s easy –- that’s how little kids think. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called grown-ups, including some with fancy titles and important jobs, still think that way -– which is why things are so screwed up,” he continued.

“I hope that instead, you decide to ground yourself in values that last, like honesty, hard work, responsibility, fairness, generosity, respect for others.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The ceremony, carried by all the major American television networks, flashed between stirring speeches and performances students and celebrities alike, including basketball superstar Lebron James and singers the Jonas Brothers.

James echoed Obama’s call for the students to step up, urging them to “Stay close to home” and help rebuild communities devastated by the virus and shutdowns.

– Uncertain future –

The US leads the world with coronavirus cases and deaths, at 1.4 million and nearly 90,000, respectively.

This year’s graduates face a grim reality: the US unemployment rate has shot up to nearly 15 percent and more than 36 million people have filed for unemployment benefits as America grapples with the fallout from months of lockdown and business closings.

The gravity of Obama’s message was underscored by the fact it was the second time in a week he had hit out at the response to the pandemic, having pointedly refused to criticize Trump in public in the three years since leaving office.

He kept his profile low despite being frequently attacked by the president.

But on May 9, in remarks leaked from a web call with people who worked in his administration, he called Trump’s handling of the pandemic a catastrophe.

“It would have been bad even with the best of governments. It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset — of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ — when that mindset is operationalized in our government,” he said in that call.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

In his comments Saturday, Obama also highlighted how the health crisis has underscored racial inequality in America, and expressed outrage at the shooting death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, killed on February 23 while out for a jog in Georgia.

“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 at the first ceremony.

“We see it in the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on our communities. Just as we see it when a black man goes for a jog and some folks feel like they can stop and question, and shoot him, if he doesn’t submit to their question,” he continued, without naming Arbery.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement

More on Capital News

Headlines

Wekesa was the ninth candidate to be interviewed for the CJ position which fell vacant when David Maraga retired in January

County News

Cabinet Secretary Margret Kobia said a total of 5,009 cases were recorded between January and December, an increase of 1,411 compared to cases reported...

Africa

Kano, Nigeria, April 22 – The death of Chadian President Idriss Deby has been a hefty blow to the anti-jihadist campaign in the Sahel, but...

Kenya

Lamu, Kenya, April 22 – In the old town of Lamu, a historic Swahili trading outpost, a motorbike taxi weaves through a crush of donkeys,...

business

NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 22 – Listed integrated Kenyan agricultural firm Kakuzi PLC has announced a free fruit maturity testing service for smallholder avocado farmers...

Capital Health

Mumbai, India, April 22 – As Poonam Sinha fought for her life, her distraught son found himself fending off black marketeers for coronavirus drugs after...

Africa

Among the four pacts, signed on the second day of President Kenyatta's three-day State visit of DR Congo, is the general cooperation agreement which...

Africa

President Uhuru Kenyatta urged world leaders to unite and secure the global children’s’ future by investing more in education ahead of the summit.