Obama Rebukes Trump’s ‘Strongman Politics’ in Mandela Speech

In one of his first high-profile appearances since 2016, ex-President Barack Obama delivered a powerful rebuke of the “utter loss of shame among political leaders” and “politics of fear, resentment, retrenchment” while giving a speech to honor former South African President Nelson Mandela. While Obama didn’t criticize President Donald Trump by name, his remarks came only a day after Trump’s embarrassing summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the Associated Press reports. Obama began his speech, which honored the 100th anniversary of the anti-apartheid leader’s birth, by referencing the “strange and uncertain” world in which “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. Obama went on to attack “strongman politics,” arguing that “those in power seek to undermine every institution ... that gives democracy meaning.” He ended positively, however, reminding the audience: “We’ve been through darker times. We’ve been through lower valleys.” “I say if people can learn to hate, they can be taught to love,” said Obama, who received a standing ovation and widespread praise after the speech. “Yesterday we had Trump and Putin standing together,” one Johannesburg professor said, “now we are seeing the opposing team: Obama and Mandela.”