Former President Barack Obama may not use Donald Trump’s name in his speeches, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t throwing shade in the president’s direction. He’s so good at it that it’s hard to pick up on his insults, but they’re certainly there. Likely Trump doesn’t comment on them himself because he’d have to spend days of his life combing through the transcripts of a single speech just to figure out what Obama said about him. This is probably why the former president doesn’t use Trump’s name. Here are a few quotes where Obama ripped Trump a new one.
1. Nobody In My Administration Got Indicted
At a rally held just last week at the Detroit Cass Tech High School in Michigan, Obama took the opportunity to take a few digs at Trump. In an attempt to get Democrats to the polls, Obama spoke about how important this year’s election is as there are more than just candidates on the ballots. The results of the midterm elections will point America in one direction or the other, and our reputation is on the line.
“I’m hoping you think it’s wrong to hear people spend years, months, vilifying people, questioning their patriotism, calling them enemies of the people, and then suddenly you’re concerned about civility. Please … They promised to take on corruption. Instead, they have gone to Washington and just plundered away. In Washington, they have racked up enough indictments to field a football team. Nobody in my administration got indicted.”
2. That’s Not How Democracy Works
Obama didn’t hold back at a recent Miami rally when he criticized Trump’s decision to pull troops away from their families by sending them to the border to protect Americans from the caravan of migrants. Calling it a “political stunt,” Obama accused Republicans of using fear to get votes, in this case using a group of traveling refugees who are thousands of miles away.
“I’m assuming that they recognize that a president doesn’t get to decide on his who’s an American citizen and who’s not. That’s not how the Constitution of the United States works. That’s not how the Bill of Rights works. That’s not how our democracy works.”
3. Fear Is Powerful
Speaking at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in June, Obama warned Dems that the midterm elections aren’t exactly in the bag. Once again he didn’t use Trump’s name but spoke about how his administration used fear to control the polls.
“Fear is powerful. Telling people that somebody’s out to get you, or somebody took your job, or somebody has it out for you, or is going to change you, or your community, or your way of life — that’s an old story and it has shown itself to be powerful in societies all around the world. It is a deliberate, systematic effort to tap into that part of our brain that carries fear in it.”
4. He’s A Symptom Not The Cause
At the University of Illinois, Obama spoke Trump’s name for the first time in one of his speeches. Spoken back in September, Obama almost complimented Trump by saying he wasn’t to blame for the current political climate. That the division in our country always existed and our current president uses it as a political tool.
“Each time we’ve gotten closer to those ideals, somebody somewhere has pushed back. The status quo pushes back. Sometimes the backlash comes from people who are genuinely, if wrongly, fearful of change. More often it’s manufactured by the powerful and the privileged, who want to keep us divided, and keep us angry and keep us cynical, because it helps them maintain the status quo and keep their power and keep their privilege. And you happen to be coming of age during one of those moments. It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause. He’s just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years. Rooted in our past, but also born out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.”
5. Barely Hidden Racial Nationalism
In July, Obama spoke at South Africa’s Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture about racism and immigration policies in the United States. He calls out the far-right parties for making immigration decisions based on race and religion, without taking public reactions and consequences into consideration. Once again, he doesn’t directly insult Trump, but there’s an obvious implication towards several things he has said.
“In the West, you’ve got far-right parties that oftentimes are based not just on platforms of protectionism and closed borders, but also on barely hidden racial nationalism…that can’t be an excuse for immigration policies based on race, or ethnicity, or religion…without reference to notions of human solidarity—or a ground-level understanding of the consequences that will be felt by particular people in particular communities by the decisions that are made.”
6. You Won’t Be Able To Unite Them
Don’t think that Obama’s snide comments about Trump just started to slip into his speeches these last few months. While the midterm elections have certainly amped things up a bit, our former president has never kept his objection to Trump and his views quiet. At a rally in Richmond, Virginia back in 2017, Obama commented on the consequences of dividing a country in order to get votes.
“You’ll notice I haven’t been commenting a lot on politics lately, but here’s one thing I know: if you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you’re not going to be able to govern them. You won’t be able to unite them later if that’s how you start.”
7. You Don’t Have What It Takes
Even before Trump won the presidential election, Obama was throwing shade in his direction. When Trump started verbalizing his suspicions that the elections were rigged, Obama said that no “serious person” could possibly believe this. While we know now that there was certainly Russian influence in the election, there’s no proof that the actual elections have ever been dishonest.
“I have never seen in my lifetime or in modern political history, any presidential candidate trying to discredit the elections and the election process before votes have even taken place. It is unprecedented. It happens to be based on no fact. Every expert regardless of political party… who has ever examined these issues in a serious way will tell you that instances of significant voter fraud are not to be found. Keep in mind elections are run by state and local officials. That is both irresponsible and, by the way, doesn’t really show the kind of leadership and toughness you’d want from a president. You start whining before the game is even over? If whenever things are going badly for you and you lose, you start blaming somebody else. Then you don’t have what it takes to be in this job.”