Obama criticises Trump’s response to COVID-19 pandemic
CHICAGO: Former US President Barack Obama has criticised the response to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging America, in aa 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 which is held 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.
The 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.”
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The ceremony was aired by all the major American television networks showing 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.
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 as 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 after refusing to criticise Trump in public in the three years since leaving office. He kept his profile low despite being frequently attacked by the president.
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