He hates it, he says, when shameless politicians are caught in a lie and double down.
Imagine how much he must hate it when they double down, like, 800 times.
Two clips worth watching from his appearance today in Johannesburg, delivering the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture. The first is aimed squarely at Trump, as was a later passage complaining about the rise of “strongman politics.” (Which isn’t unique to America, of course.) I don’t understand why he still insists on not criticizing POTUS by name when (a) everyone knows who he’s talking about and (b) Trump criticizes him by name practically every day on Twitter.
Former Pres. Obama: "Unfortunately, too much of politics today seems to reject the very concept of objective truth. People just make stuff up…we see the utter loss of shame among political leaders where they're caught in a lie and they just double down" https://t.co/s4drXPlcRD pic.twitter.com/rn5o4xt9rM
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) July 17, 2018
Obama would probably say that it’s about wanting to preserve the norms of presidential succession, in which the last chief executive declines to attack the new guy as a show of comity and a tribute to the peaceful transfer of power in democracies. But there’s no comity between the parties or between Trump and Obama as individuals. Trump explicitly questioned Obama’s legitimacy as president by harping on his birth certificate and rank-and-file Democrats have repaid the favor by questioning Trump’s legitimacy after Russia’s campaign meddling. How are the norms of presidential succession served when your “tribute” to them is crapping all over the new guy but simply withholding his name from your complaints? By November Obama will be out on the trail for Democrats claiming that “the guy whose name rhymes with ‘Monald Mump'” is a traitor and a threat to the republic. Just say it already. If you’re going to engage, engage.
He did keep it mostly light in that clip, at least.
The second clip is this one, for which righties are rightly praising him:
Pres. Obama: Democracy demands getting inside "the reality of people who are different than us."
"You can't do it if you insist that those who aren't like you because they're white, or because they're male…that somehow they lack standing to speak on certain matters." pic.twitter.com/NHPR9cQmpQ
— ABC News (@ABC) July 17, 2018
A good statement and not that surprising despite the Democrats’ leftward drift, particularly when you remember that he was addressing an audience of South Africans that had to confront the same problem of racial reconciliation in an unusually stark way. From time to time as president Obama would uncork some polite criticism of the left’s excesses: I remember him taking lefty campus fascists to task in September 2015 for trying to exclude conservative speakers from campus. He certainly has some far-left preferences, as he reminded us again today, but the left itself would eagerly tell you that he isn’t as fringey as they’d like, both economically and culturally. The last clip is a reminder that he and righty populists don’t disagree on everything. Right, NATO?