There is an unwritten rule that ex-presidents never speak publicly about their successors. It’s hardly surprising that Barack Obama has violated this code.
But what he had to say about Pres. Donald Trump is downright alarming. While speaking before the Economic Club of Chicago, Obama compared Trump to Adolf Hitler and warned of a genocide in America.
As if that’s not bad enough, the media have largely ignored Obama’s comments.
One member of the press who didn’t was Crain’s Chicago Business political columnist Greg Hinz, who writes:
American democracy is fragile, and unless care is taken it could follow the path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
Mixed in with many softer comments, that was the somewhat jaw-dropping bottom line of Barack Obama last night as, in a Q&A session before the Economic Club of Chicago, the Chicagoan who used to be president dropped a bit of red meat to a hometown crowd that likely is a lot closer to him than the man whose name never was mentioned: President Donald Trump.
Obama’s comments came after a series of playful questions from moderator and Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson — in the great Batman vs. Superman debate, for instance, we learned Obama sides with Batman — before she eventually asked him what he’s learned as a world citizen of sorts.
One thing he’s learned is that “things don’t happen internationally if we don’t put our shoulder to the wheel,” Obama said, speaking of the U.S. “No other country has the experience and bandwidth and ideals. … If the U.S. doesn’t do it, it’s not going to happen.”
Take that, @realDonaldTrump: @BarackObama makes clear his view that a complacent America could be headed the way of Nazi Germany. Read his remarkable comments at #EconomicClub of Chicago. @BarackObama2Day https://t.co/XD4gdhjDRr
— Greg Hinz (@GregHinz) December 6, 2017
Still, the U.S. has survived tough times before and will again, he noted, particularly mentioning the days of communist fighter Joseph McCarthy and former President Richard Nixon. But one reason the country survived is because it had a free press to ask questions, Obama added. Though he has problems with the media just like Trump has had, “what I understood was the principle that the free press was vital.”
The danger is “grow[ing] complacent,” Obama said. “We have to tend to this garden of democracy or else things could fall apart quickly.” That’s what happened in Germany in the 1930s which, despite the democracy of the Weimar Republic and centuries of high-level cultural and scientific achievements, Adolph Hitler rose to dominate, Obama noted. “Sixty million people died. … So, you’ve got to pay attention. And vote.” [Emphasis added]
“As of this write-up, his anti-Trump comments have been ignored by the media,” notes Kristine Marsh at NewsBusters:
No surprise either that Obama didn’t appear to get pushback for this comment from his personal friend and financial backer, who just happened to be his interviewer, Mellody Hobson. Hobson is not just a financial contributor for CBS, but is a close friend and high profile donor to Obama’s two presidential campaigns. At a White House event in 2013, Obama warmly described Hobson as a “great great friend”:
Mellody was being very modest when she said she had a front-row seat. Mellody was one of my earliest supporters back when nobody could pronounce my name. And her and John Rogers at Arial Capital helped to co-chair some of my first fundraisers. And they’d have to drag some straggly group in, kicking and screaming, and write a check and listen to this young senator who had a lot of ideas but not necessarily any realistic prospects to win. And she went through a lot of ups and downs with me and my career and is just a great, great friend. So I want to thank her publicly for all the support that she’s given us.
Recently, Obama attacked Trump for pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, claiming a “temporary” absence of American leadership on the issue.
As Marsh notes:
In September, Obama criticized Trump’s decision to rescind DACA as “cruel” and “self-defeating.”
The former FLOTUS has also gone after Trump, making snarky comments about his use of Twitter, to several different audiences. In September, she slammed women who didn’t vote for Clinton as betraying their sex, characterizing them as weak-minded and sexist.
Now, he’s comparing Trump to Hitler. And the media are mum.