Barack Obama delivered a virtual commencement address Saturday for the 2020 graduates trapped at home with their families. Most Americans loved the reminder of what it was like to have a president, but others -- let's call them “Republicans" -- hated the reminder of when a black guy was president.

On Sunday's "Fox & Friends," co-host Jedediah Bila expressed her disgust with Obama's words, which she believed were “inappropriate" for the moment.



BILA: You know, the more I listen to it, the weirder it gets, truly, to listen.

This wasn't one of Donald Trump's coronavirus press briefings. Obama's address was fairly straightforward. He used actual words and everything. Maybe all that human decency confused her.

Bila thought Obama was too “political" and that's not what the kids needed. Where was the inspiration, the call for bipartisan unity in the face of national crisis?

BILA: But then when you think about it, it's a commencement speech, it's supposed to be motivational, positive, it's supposed to be about the graduates. This was not the time for what he's doing. This was not the time to say, "Oh, this leadership isn't doing a great job" or, you know, "Adults don't always know what they do." It just seems so depressing, to be perfectly honest, and just so completely inappropriate for what a commencement speech is supposed to be.

This is not a normal commencement speech. Everyone listening was in their sweatpants. We can't confirm that Obama himself wasn't wearing sweatpants. Obama played straight with the graduates and acknowledged that the world is fucked up, and it's not their fault. It's the the so-called adult leaders who dropped the ball. That's important for young people to hear because, within a few years, those same adults will complain that “kids today" aren't as driven as they were back when they attended college in “buildings."

Of course, Bila clearly hadn't listened to Obama's speech all that closely. It wasn't just an angry screed like the Fox News prime time lineup.

OBAMA: [COVID-19] pulled the curtain back on another hard truth, something that we all have to eventually accept once our childhood comes to an end. And all those adults that you used to think were in charge and knew what they were doing? Turns out that they don't have all the answers. A lot of them aren't even asking the right questions. So, if the world's going to get better, it going to be up to you.

That realization may be kind of intimidating. But, I hope it's also inspiring. With all the challenges this country faces right now, nobody can tell you "no, you're too young to understand" or "this is how it's always been done." Because with so much uncertainty, with everything suddenly up for grabs, this is your generation's world to shape.

Since I'm one of the old guys, I won't tell you what to do with this power that rests in your hands. But I'll leave you with three quick pieces of advice.

Obama's advice to the COVID-19 generation was “Don't be afraid; Do what's right; Build a community." Sure, it wasn't as on the nose as “Lord loves a working man" and “Don't trust whitey" but it was hardly “depressing" and “inappropriate," as Bila claimed.

Co-host Griff Jenkins lamented “no-drama" Obama's "lost opportunity." Conservatives are constantly surprised that after more than a decade of vile personal attacks, Obama is not that interested in playing nice with assholes. Jenkins even mentioned the latest baseless character assassination directed at the former president.

JENKINS: We haven't heard much from him and the entire time and, look, President Trump has taken lots of shots at President Obama. We hear Obamagate all this past week. So this was the opportunity for Barack Obama to step into the void, get that soaring rhetoric that we remember and inspire these young graduates like my niece Marilyn, [who] graduated from Villanova this weekend.

Yeah, congratulations to your niece and all that, but fuck you. Donald Trump accused Obama of multiple crimes he can't even be bothered to make up, but you expect Obama to remain “above the fray"? When Obama “steps into the void" Trump's piss-poor leadership has created, it's not just his prerogative but his moral duty to read Trump for the filth he is. That's quite the “soaring rhetoric" for most of us enduring Trump's plague.

Jenkins can't believe anyone would attack leadership at a time when we need them most, but leadership also includes Democrats. Fox News hosts frequently attack Democratic governors and the speaker of the House, even during a pandemic.

Pete Hegseth claimed Obama was talking “like a typical leftist" when he denounced “the people in charge." This is so silly. When conservatives rail against Democrats in power, they are “populists" who'll “drain the swamp," but when liberals criticize Republicans, they are commies who don't respect democracy and the rule of law.

Then Hegseth exchanged his dog whistle for a bullhorn.

HEGSETH: And by the way, Barack Obama's not all that articulate. When he reads the off a teleprompter, he can be inspiring, or off of a speech, but when he's impromptu the "uhms" and the "ahs" it's like -- it's impossible to listen to.

These ass clowns will continue insisting “Obama's a dummy" even though their glorious leader is Donald Trump.

Donald Trump does his best Dr. Evil impression: Super Duper Missile www.youtube.com

“Articulate" is a “compliment" racists give black people who are objectively superior to them in every way. Conservatives revoked Obama's honorary “good one" status early into his presidency and regularly claimed Obama was a moron who just read pretty words off a teleprompter. This would still make him articulate, as he'd have to read the words and imbue them with feeling. Laurence Olivier was pretty damn articulate. Donald Trump is barely literate.

Republicans have made public health a wedge issue. We need Obama out there, inspiring young people of all ages, so we can all vote out the thing squatting in the White House. It's the only way we'll ever safely leave our own houses.

Check out a real president articulating his black ass off.

Obama's Virtual Commencement Speech To Class Of 2020: 'This Is Your Generation's World To Shape' www.youtube.com

[Media Matters / CNN]

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).

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