Obama delivers veiled rebuke to Trump in Mandela address
In his highest profile speech since leaving office, former U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday denounced the policies of President Donald Trump without mentioning his name, taking aim at the “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment,” and decrying leaders who are caught lying and “just double down and lie some more.”
Obama was cheered by thousands in Johannesburg’s Wanderers Stadium as he marked the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth by urging respect for human rights, the free press and other values he said were under threat.
He rallied people to keep alive the ideals that the anti-apartheid activist worked for as the first black president of South Africa, including democracy, diversity, gender equality and tolerance.
Obama opened by calling today’s times “strange and uncertain,” adding that “each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines.”
“We see much of the world threatening to return to a more dangerous, more brutal, way of doing business,” he said.
A day after Trump met in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Obama criticized “strongman politics.”
The “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment” are on the move “at a pace unimaginable just a few years ago,” Obama added.
“Those in power seek to undermine every institution ... that gives democracy meaning,” he said.
The first black president of the United States spoke up for equality in all forms, adding: “I would have thought we had figured that out by now.”
Obama reminded the crowd “we’ve been through darker times. We’ve been through lower valleys.”
He closed with a call to action: “I say if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”