Apr 24, 2017

Obama's life tips for the next generation

Charles Rex Arbogast / AP

Barack Obama spoke at the University of Chicago Monday in his first public appearance since leaving office. He kicked it off by asking the audience: "So, uh, what's been going on while I've been gone?"

His big picture: After a lot of contemplation he's decided his next job should be to "prepare the next generation of leaders."

  • Marriage advice: "Just a tip for all you young folks... listening to understand not listening to respond — that'll save you a lot of heartache and grief."
  • "I probably wouldn't have been President" said Obama, if photos of him from high school were subject to the type of social media scrutiny that exists today. He warned: "Be careful with those selfies."
  • "I'm old... but please, continue," he interjected when a panelist noted that he was in 8th grade during Obama's first presidential election.

Go deeper

Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.

James Mattis condemns Trump as a threat to the Constitution

Mattis on Fox in Septemnber 2019 in New York City. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis condemned President Trump for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in a statement to The Atlantic on Wednesday, saying he was "appalled" at the president's response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

Why it matters: Trump’s former defense secretary had refrained from publicly criticizing his former boss since resigning in 2018.

American society is teetering on the edge

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The COVID-19 pandemic, record unemployment and escalating social unrest are all pushing American society close to the breaking point.

The big picture: Civilizations don't last forever, and when they collapse, the cause is almost always internal failure. Even in the midst of one of our darkest years, the U.S. still has many factors in its favor, but the fate of past societies holds frightening lessons for what may lie ahead.