Washington: For the second time in a week, former US president Barack Obama has made a veiled attack on his successor Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus crisis, saying the pandemic that had shown that many officials "aren't even pretending to be in charge." Obama criticised the handling of the coronavirus pandemic without mentioning President Trump, a Republican, by name, just a week after privately criticising the administration's response to the COVID-19.
The total death toll in the US due to the coronavirus now stands at over 88,000, which is the highest anywhere in the world. The country has over 1.46 million cases of confirmed COVID-19 infections.
In his speech to graduates from several dozen historically black colleges and universities, Obama said the COVID-19 outbreak had exposed failings in the country's leadership.
"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. A lot of them aren't even pretending to be in charge," Obama, a Democrat, said during a virtual commencement address for historically black colleges and universities.
"If the world is going to get better, it's going to be up to you," he added.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Saturday highlighted President Trump's work, saying his "unprecedented coronavirus response has saved lives." Obama then later on Saturday, during the "Graduate Together" special hosted by LeBron James, said, "You know, all those adults that you used to think were in charge and knew what they were doing, turns out they don't have all the answers. A lot of them aren't even asking the right questions." Obama, who was the first African-American US president, had privately criticised the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus crisis as "an absolute chaotic disaster" during a phone call earlier this month with former staffers and administration alumnus.
Obama, 58, also spoke at length about the impact the pandemic is having on black communities in the US.
"A disease like this just spotlights the underlying inequalities and extra burdens that black communities have historically had to deal with in this country," he said.
African-Americans make up a disproportionate number of coronavirus deaths and hospitalisations in the US.
Obama, who was a former civil rights lawyer and community organiser before he ran for political office, also gave three pieces of advice for the graduating class to "create change." "No generation has been better positioned to be warriors for justice and remake the world," he said.
Obama has kept a relatively low profile since leaving office in January 2017 and has rarely spoken out about the actions of his successor.
But the pair have been engaged in several back-and-forths in recent days, leading Trump to accuse Obama and his aides of engaging in a criminal effort to undermine his presidency as he sought another term in the White House in the election in November.
"The biggest political crime in American history, by far!" the president wrote on Twitter last week.