Barack Obama received high marks from his supporters for a pair of virtual commencement speeches earlier this month. At least one pundit, however, believes the former president stepped on his own 2020 endorsement by uttering one phrase.
Republican strategist Adam Goodman wrote in an op-ed for The Hill this week that Obama tacitly endorsed Donald Trump’s re-election bid by declaring to graduates that “the old ways of doing things just don’t work.”
Trump’s unconventional 2016 campaign upset the political status quo, appealing to voters who believed the White House needed someone other than an establishment politician.
Goodman argued that this appears to be exactly the type of candidate Obama recommended in his recent remark. Instead, Obama is backing Joe Biden, his vice president who previously spent decades in Congress.
“Despite nearly four years in office as Commander in Chief, Trump is still an incumbent who sounds every bit the challenger, and Joe Biden a quarantined challenger who acts like he’s still the incumbent,” Goodman wrote in his op-ed.
The former president now speaks out against “the old ways of doing things,” which is precisely the argument many Trump voters made in 2016 and are set to repeat at the polls this November.
Goodman wrote that Trump’s message “is the system needs a wholesale overhaul, that it’s not right to leave America’s working-class working overtime to keep up, or our military mired in wars they couldn’t win or our borders unprotected from illegal entry — or to tolerate foreign powers hiding truths that imperil the planet.”
Meanwhile, Biden is running a campaign that has failed to spark widespread enthusiasm among Democrats, as even HuffPost reports. In addition to concerns about his frequent gaffes, plenty of voters on the left are concerned that he merely represents more of the same in D.C., according to NBC News.
“Biden is the establishment candidate, with a record to match, one that has been wrong—often disastrously so—on fundamental questions over the past decades,” Robert L. Borosage wrote in the left-leaning magazine The Nation.
The former vice president has staked his claim on a return to normalcy, even though his most prominent endorser seems to be advocating for something new and fresh.
“Beyond judgments still to be made about COVID-19, the race for president is again a referendum on the ‘old ways,'” Goodman concluded in his op-ed. “Donald Trump should thank Barack Obama for reminding us.”
It might be one of the few things Obama has ever said that a majority of Trump voters would agree with.