Former President Barack Obama on Saturday said the coronavirus pandemic has revealed some leaders “aren’t even pretending to be in charge” of the pandemic that has claimed at least 90,000 lives in the U.S.
“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 said in remarks for an online commencement address honoring students graduating from Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
“A lot of them aren’t even pretending to be in charge,” Obama said, taking a veiled swipe of President Donald Trump’s response to the deadly pandemic.
“If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you,” he told the class of 2020.
Obama also lamented the disproportionate effect the coronavirus has been having on people of color.
“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 questioning,” he said, referring to the recent shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.
“Injustice like this isn’t new,” he said. “What is new is that so much of your generation has woken up to the fact that the status quo needs fixing.”
Obama called the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic “anemic and spotty” in a private call last week with thousands of supporters who had worked for him.
“It would have been bad even with the best of governments,” Obama said on the call. “It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mind-set — of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ — when that mind-set is operationalized in our government.”