Former President Barack Obama didn’t hold back when he addressed a crowd of 15,000 Tuesday in Johannesburg, South Africa to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday. And the beauty of it is he didn’t mention the name Trump at all. He didn’t have to.
The day after Donald Trump disgraced himself and the United States on the world stage, President Obama cited the “strange and uncertain” times we live in and commented that “each day’s news cycle is bringing more head-spinning and disturbing headlines.”
The “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment” are on the move “at a pace unimaginable just a few years ago. Those in power seek to undermine every institution … that gives democracy meaning.”
Decrying the “utter loss of shame among political leaders when they’re caught in a lie, and they just double down and lie some more,” he warned that denying facts could well mean the destruction of democracy.
However, because he is Obama, and always ready to find the kernel of good amongst the unthinkable, he reminded his audience, “We’ve been through darker times. We’ve been through lower valleys.”
Providing a counterpoint to Trump’s warning that Europe is losing its culture due to immigration, Obama praised the ethnically diverse team from France that won the World Cup. He said those countries that engage in xenophobia “eventually . . . find themselves consumed by civil war.”
He spoke about issues of equality for all people, irrespective of the dividing lines we human beings erect to separate ourselves from each other and lamented, “I would have thought we had figured that out by now.”
Ending his address, Obama proclaimed, “I say if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love.”
He was rewarded with a standing ovation from those assembled.
Witwatersrand University professor of international relations, John Stremlau, heaped praise on President Obama, saying, “Just by standing on the stage honoring Nelson Mandela, Obama is delivering an eloquent rebuke to Trump.”
Stremlau noted that the work that defined Mandela’s life is “under assault” and said, “Yesterday, we had Trump and Putin standing together; now we are seeing the opposing team: Mandela and Obama.”
Calling Obama’s speech “a tough, strong condemnation of Trump and all that he stands for,” Stremlau said, “Obama hit out at lying, insecurity and putting down others. Obama said he can’t believe it is necessary to once again speak up for equality and human rights. He pulled it together in a carefully worded, measured speech, which urged all to live up to Mandela’s standards and values.”
Seems those standards and values have been lost in the halls of the White House and in certain quarters in Congress.
It is time for all patriotic Americans to stand up and repudiate this obvious traitor to our country and our values. It is time for Republicans in Congress to come to terms with the very real fact that we have a traitor in the Oval Office who is doing damage to this country with every word he speaks, with every threat he makes, with every sycophantic, slobbering obeisance he pays to a dictator whose fondest dream is coming true right before our very eyes.
It is time for the GOP to grow a spine and eject this traitor.
But, then again, we are dealing with a GOP led by the likes of Paul Ryan, he who has always found a way to excuse the actions of Traitor Trump, and Mitch McConnell, whose only goal during the entire Obama presidency was to make sure there would be no second term and when that didn’t happen, to obstruct everything Obama did. The Republican majority in Congress has shown that they are more interested in feathering their own nests than adhering to their oath of office to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States of America.