Sep 7, 2018

Obama to America: Trump's not normal

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Barack Obama re-entered the political arena today, declaring himself a "fellow citizen" rather than former president.

Why it matters: The most successful Democratic politician of his generation is breaking with precedents from a more civil era. It's highly unusual for a former president to criticize a current one in such blunt terms.

In a fiery speech at the University of Illinois, Obama directly criticized President Trump, linking him to a "darker aspect" of the American story.

  • "Each time we painstakingly pull ourselves closer to our founding ideals ... somebody somewhere has pushed back. The status quo pushes back."
  • "It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not the cause."
  • "He's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years."

The big picture: Obama's message to America is that Trump isn't normal, and shouldn't be accepted as normal.

  • "[W]e do not pressure the Attorney General or the FBI to use the criminal justice system as a cudgel to punish our political opponents."
  • "Or to explicitly call on the Attorney General to protect members of our own party from prosecution because an election happens to be coming up."
  • "[W]e don't threaten the freedom of the press... because they say things or publish stories we don't like.
  • "[Y]ou never heard me threaten to shut [Fox News] down, or call them enemies of the people."
  • "And we're sure as heck supposed to stand up... to Nazi sympathizers.
  • "How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad."

Between the lines: Obama didn't forget Republicans in Congress:

  • "Republicans who know better in Congress ... are still bending overbackwards to shield this behavior from scrutiny or accountability or consequence."
  • "None of this is conservative... It sure isn't normal. It's radical."

Trump's response to Obama's speech, per the AP: "I’m sorry, I watched it, but I fell asleep... I found he’s very good for sleeping.”

The bottom line: Buckle up. This is just the beginning for Obama.

Go deeper

Italy reports lowest number of new coronavirus cases since February

Italy’s aerobatic team Frecce Tricolori fly over Milan in Duomo Square on May 25. Photo: Francesco Prandoni/Getty Images

The Italian government reported 300 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, the lowest daily increase since Feb. 29.

Why it matters: Italy, the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown after emerging as a hotspot in March, appears to have finally weathered its coronavirus outbreak. Italy has reported nearly 33,000 total deaths, the third-highest total behind the U.S. and U.K.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 5,453,784 — Total deaths: 345,886 — Total recoveries — 2,191,310Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,651,254 — Total deaths: 97,850 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Top Boris Johnson aide defends himself after allegations he broke U.K. lockdown — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.