Barack Obama took a veiled jab at Donald Trump‘s handling of the coronavirus during a commencement speech on Saturday, which has led to pushback from some Republicans. As reported by Breitbart, Karl Rove, former President George W. Bush’s senior adviser, appeared on Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends on Monday and compared Obama’s comments to a “political drive-by shooting.”
The conversation began when co-host Brian Kilmeade noted that Obama took “countless shots” at Rove and the Bush administration during his speech.
“Well, yeah, but you put your finger on it. It is so unseemly for a former president to take the virtual commencement ceremony for a series of historically black colleges and universities and turn it into a political drive-by shooting,” Rove responded.
Rove suggested that the young graduates should have been “inspired to a life of service” and reminded that life would have challenges that would put their character to the test.
“There are lots of positive messages that the former president could have delivered.”
As noted by Ashley Reese in Jezebel, Rove’s decision to reference a drive-by shooting when speaking of an event of black college students — being spoken to by America’s first black president — was “probably intentional.” Reese pointed out that Rove was rumored to have been the orchestrator of a 2000 poll that asked voters whether they would support John McCain if he had an “illegitimate black child.” The survey came after McCain brought his adopted Bangladeshi daughter on the campaign trail when he was the primary challenger to then-Texas Governor Bush.
Despite Rove’s “dog whistle,” Reese claims that his beliefs run contrary to the feelings of Americans, who she claims tend to agree with Obama’s sentiments.
“Trump’s handling of covid-19 hasn’t impressed voters, including those in battleground states,” she wrote.
According to Reese, the attacks on Obama represent an “old scapegoat in a new package” intended to divert attention from the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response. This strategy, she noted, has been fueled by Fox News, which has cut down on its coronavirus coverage to make room for Obamagate.
As reported by The Hill, Obama claimed that the coronavirus pandemic has “torn back the curtain” on the people in power and exposed them as individuals who don’t know what they’re doing. Despite not mentioning Trump or vice president Mike Pence directly, Obama’s comments were largely believed to be a criticism of the current administration, which has been under scrutiny for its delayed response to the coronavirus crisis.
Obama also used his speech to address the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, which Reese compared to “modern-day lynching.”