politics

'He has shown no interest in putting in the work.' Barack Obama’s emotional speech on Trump.


United States President Donald Trump is seething after a scathing attack on his time in the country's top spot by his predecessor Barack Obama.

Obama has assailed his successor as deeply unfit for the office he occupies and argued that voting for his former No.2, Joe Biden, was necessary to ensure the very survival of American democracy.

Obama has mostly avoided directly criticising Trump over the last four years, and his speech on night three of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), marked an unusually harsh assessment of one president by another.

Barack Obama's speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Post continues below video.


Video via Twitter.

His assertion that Trump, a Republican, is incapable of meeting the demands of the presidency echoed the remarks from his wife, Michelle Obama on Monday, that Trump "simply cannot be who we need him to be".

Biden was formally nominated this week to take on Trump in the November 3 presidential election, with US senator Kamala Harris his choice for vice-president.

Barack Obama's speech.

Before he even opened his mouth, Obama's chosen location for his speech spoke volumes. He was in Philadelphia, at a museum about the writing of the American constitution.

The speech, during the third night of the Democratic National Convention, had a sense of urgency as Obama explained how crucial it was for Americans to vote Trump out of office in November for the sake of its democracy and everyone in it.

He said Trump was simply incapable of being president.

"I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously.

"That he might come to feel the weight of the office. And discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care. But he never did.

ADVERTISEMENT

"For close to four years now, he's shown no interest in putting in the work; no interest in finding common ground; no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends; no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves."

"Donald Trump hasn't grown into the job because he can't. And the consequences of that failure are severe," he continued, citing the 170,000 Americans who have died from the coronavirus, the millions of jobs lost to the ensuing recession and the diminishing of the country's democratic principles at home and abroad.

Image: Getty. 

Obama, who remains enormously popular among Democratic voters, also used his speech to offer a personal endorsement of Biden, who is a close friend and served as his vice-president for two terms.

He said Biden was "a brother" to him, a man who treated "every person he meets with respect and dignity, living by the words his parents taught him: 'No one’s better than you, Joe, but you’re better than nobody.'"

Obama said for the eight years of his presidency, Biden was the last one in the room when he faced a tough decision.

ADVERTISEMENT

"He made me a better president - and he's got the character and the experience to make us a better country."

Obama issued a call to action, imploring Americans to vote, warning that Trump and his Republican allies can win only by suppressing and undermining votes, rather than on the merit of their policies. 

"[Biden and Harris] understand that in this democracy, the commander in chief doesn’t use the men and women of our military, who are willing to risk everything to protect our nation, as political props to deploy against peaceful protesters on our own soil. 

"They understand that political opponents aren’t 'un-American' just because they disagree with you; that a free press isn’t the 'enemy' but the way we hold officials accountable; that our ability to work together to solve big problems like a pandemic depends on a fidelity to facts and science and logic and not just making stuff up."

Image: Getty. 

Obama said he understood why American citizens may feel disillusioned by the government and "the circus of it all, the meanness and the lies and crazy conspiracy theories".

He said Trump's team were counting on that cynicism, because they can't win by sharing policies but by making it as hard as possible for voters to cast their ballots.

ADVERTISEMENT

"That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all," Obama said.

Obama said the choice Americans make will echo through generations to come, and around the world.

"This administration has shown it will tear our democracy down if that’s what it takes to win. 

"So we have to get busy building it up - by pouring all our effort into these 76 days, and by voting like never before - for Joe and Kamala, and candidates up and down the ticket, so that we leave no doubt about what this country we love stands for - today and for all our days to come."

Other speeches.

Obama's speech came after speeches from other high profile Democrats including his wife Michelle Obama, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris and independent Senator Bernie Sanders.

Biden will round out the convention with a speech on Thursday (Friday, AEST).

On Monday, the former first lady wore a delicate gold necklace with the four letters V-O-T-E strung out on a chain as she declared her support for Biden and Harris. 

Michelle Obama during her Democratic National Convention speech. Image: Getty.  

She added the state of America today is a sad display for the next generation to look up to. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"A nation that's underperforming not simply on matters of policy but on matters of character. And that's not just disappointing; it's downright infuriating," she said. 

"So let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country. He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. 

"He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is," she said, referencing Trump's controversial words when discussing the deaths of Americans due to COVID-19 in his disastrous AXIOS interview with Jonathan Swan.

Michelle Obama continued: "If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can; and they will if we don't make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it."

On Wednesday, former Secretary of State and Trump's 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton called on Democrat voters to turn out in "overwhelming" numbers for the election.

Image: Getty. 

"Don’t forget, Joe and Kamala can win by three million votes and still lose. Take it from me," Clinton warned. 

"We need numbers so overwhelming Trump can’t sneak or steal his way to victory."

ADVERTISEMENT

In 2016, Clinton won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes, but lost the election due to the US Electoral College system.

"For four years, people have said to me, 'I didn't realise how dangerous [Trump] was.' 'I wish I could go back and do it over.' Or worst, 'I should have voted,'" Clinton said. 

"Well, this can’t be another woulda-coulda-shoulda election."

She echoed Obama by saying Americans needed to vote like their lives and livelihoods are on the line, "because they are".

Rather than talk about Trump or the task ahead of her and Biden, vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris began her speech with a tribute to the black women activists who fought for a right to vote and then a seat at the table.

"We're not often taught their stories," Harris said. "But as Americans, we all stand on their shoulders."

She spoke personally about racial injustice, immigration and gender inequality and spoke about her own experiences as a Jamaican and South Asian woman.

Image: Getty. 

She spoke about her vision of the US "as a beloved community where all are welcome no matter what".

ADVERTISEMENT

"Today, that country feels distant. Donald Trump’s failure of leadership has cost lives and livelihoods... And we are a nation that is grieving. Grieving the loss of life, the loss of jobs, the loss of opportunities, the loss of normalcy, and, yes, the loss of certainty.

"And while this virus touches us all, we've got to be honest; it is not an equal-opportunity offender. Black, Latino and indigenous people are suffering and dying disproportionately. And this is not a coincidence. It is the effect of structural racism, of inequities in education and technology, health care and housing, job security and transportation, the injustice in reproductive and maternal health care and the excessive use of force by police and in our broader criminal justice system.

"This virus, it has no eyes, and yet it knows exactly how we see each other and how we treat each other. And let's be clear. There is no vaccine for racism. We have got to do the work - for George Floyd, for Breonna Taylor, for the lives of too many others to name, for our children, and for all of us. We’ve got to do the work to fulfill that promise of equal justice under law. Because here's the thing. None of us are free until all of us are free."

Harris said she, Biden and all Americans where in the fight together.

"Let's fight with conviction. Let’s fight with hope. Let’s fight with confidence in ourselves and a commitment to each other, to the America we know is possible, the America we love."

Trump's response.

Before Obama's speech, Trump tweeted he would see Obama and 'Crooked Hillary' "on the battlefield", switching his focus from his current opponents to his predecessor and past opponent.

On Twitter, Trump responded to Obama's appearance with two posts in all capital letters: "HE SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN, AND GOT CAUGHT!" he said, repeating a false conspiracy theory stemming from the FBI's surveillance of Trump campaign associates in the run-up to the 2016 election. 

"WHY DID HE REFUSE TO ENDORSE SLOW JOE UNTIL IT WAS ALL OVER, AND EVEN THEN WAS VERY LATE? WHY DID HE TRY TO GET HIM NOT TO RUN?"

Predictably, Donald Trump also didn't like Michelle Obama's speech, speaking about himself in third person.

ADVERTISEMENT

On Tuesday, Trump doubled down on his response to the former first lady's speech but it ended up being a bit of an own-goal.

"Well she's in over her head, and frankly, she should've made the speech live, which she didn't do. She taped it. And it was not only taped, it was taped a long time ago, because she had the wrong deaths. She didn't even mention the vice presidential candidate.

Obama had said there were 150,000 deaths in America from the coronavirus pandemic, when actually there's been over 175,000 U.S. deaths. It has increased by 25,000 in the past 20 days.

Expect more tweets as Joe Biden takes to the podium later today.

Feature image: Getty.

00:00 / ???