WASHINGTON — Former President Barack Obama appeared to take a thinly veiled swipe at President Donald Trump Tuesday, warning attendees at a lecture in Johannesburg that the “politics of fear and resentment and retrenchment” is on the move across the world.
“Look around. Strong-men politics are ascendant suddenly,” Obama said. “Those in power seek to undermine every institution or norm that gives democracy meaning.”
The former president added that far-right parties in the western world are embracing “barely hidden racial nationalism.”
Obama noted the phenomenon is marked by an “utter loss of shame among political leaders.”
“When they’re caught in a lie and they just double down,” Obama said.
Obama’s speech, the 2018 Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture honoring the centennial of the iconic late South African leader’s birth, comes one day after President Donald Trump held a meeting followed by a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the highly criticized appearance, Trump cast doubt on his intelligence community’s conclusion that Russian operatives attempted to sway the 2016 election and said that both the U.S. and Russia were equally responsible for deteriorating relations.
Obama’s remarks mark the highest-profile public event he has participated in since leaving office in January 2017.