Former President Barack Obama, during a virtual conference call with U.S. mayors from across the country, seems to have made several subtle jabs toward current President Donald Trump while giving them advice on how to best combat the spread of coronavirus in their jurisdictions.
“The biggest mistake any [of] us can make in these situations is to misinform” constituents, Obama explained to mayors on Thursday, during a conference call arranged by Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Obama didn’t mention Trump by name in his conversation with the mayors, but it’s not a stretch to understand he may well have been talking about the current commander-in-chief’s behavior and comments on coronavirus. Trump has frequently shared misinformation during his daily coronavirus press briefings, including peddling an untested drug as a possible cure for the disease, without any hard evidence demonstrating as much.
The former president stressed to mayors on the call the importance of being honest and caring in the eyes of constituents.
“Speak the truth. Speak it clearly. Speak it with compassion. Speak it with empathy for what folks are going through,” Obama said.
He also advised leaders that it was always best to surround themselves with “smart people,” and to not be afraid of asking experts their opinions on the disease.
“The more smart people you have around you, and the less embarrassed you are to ask questions, the better your response is going to be,” Obama said.
The former president has seemingly been critical, if indirectly, toward the current administration in a number of ways over the past few days. On Wednesday, for instance, Obama shared a New York Times article in which the headline asked when we might know it’s the right time to reopen the economy — something that Trump has been pushing for, perhaps due to political motivations more than anything else, for several weeks now.
Obama noted we can’t think about opening things back up until we have more testing capabilities, emphasizing that, until we are able to test more for coronavirus, staying at home was the best option.
Social distancing bends the curve and relieves some pressure on our heroic medical professionals. But in order to shift off current policies, the key will be a robust system of testing and monitoring – something we have yet to put in place nationwide. https://t.co/evkTSrzReB
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 8, 2020
“Social distancing bends the curve and relieves some pressure on our heroic medical professionals,” Obama wrote. “But in order to shift off current policies, the key will be a robust system of testing and monitoring — something we have yet to put in place nationwide.”
Obama also made what many considered a not-so-quiet hint of criticism toward the current president, warning against those who have denied scientific experts’ findings in the recent past. While Obama’s March 31 tweet primarily focused on climate change, it suggested, too, that the former president was upset by Trump’s slow and disastrous response to accept coronavirus as a true crisis early on.
“We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic,” Obama wrote last week. “We can’t afford any more consequences of climate denial.”
Not everyone can pay for the news. But if you can, we need your support.
Truthout is widely read among people with lower incomes and among young people who are mired in debt. Our site is read at public libraries, among people without internet access of their own. People print out our articles and send them to family members in prison — we receive letters from behind bars regularly thanking us for our coverage. Our stories are emailed and shared around communities, sparking grassroots mobilization.
We’re committed to keeping all Truthout articles free and available to the public. But in order to do that, we need those who can afford to contribute to our work to do so.
We’ll never require you to give, but we can ask you from the bottom of our hearts: Will you donate what you can, so we can continue providing journalism in the service of justice and truth?