Former President Barack Obama, in one fell swoop, made a complete mockery of the “familiar” racist attacks from Republicans that have defined their candidates’ midterm campaigns while also addressing the seriousness of the continued spreading of conspiracy theories and misinformation.
The brilliant moment when both truths collided came Saturday afternoon during a speech in Milwaukee to rally around Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin.
It was yet another masterclass in public speaking by Obama, who hours earlier gave a rousing address in Detroit promoting Michigan Democrats after doing the same for candidates in Georgia on Friday night.
Obama joked earlier on Saturday about getting “older,” but he made sure to keep some energy for Milwaukee when he compared one aspect of his own political experience to Barnes – a young, Black politician whose name may sound “funny” to some.
The former president quipped to the audience that Republicans have sought to portray Barnes as “a Democrat with a funny name” in an effort to show “he must not be like you” or “share your values.”
Pointing out the similarities with his own campaigns, Obama went on to point out the obvious by asking: “We’ve seen this – it sounds pretty familiar doesn’t it?”
Barnes, sitting next to Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, can be seen delighting in Obama’s accurate words.
That was when Obama harkened back to the racist so-called birther attacks he received from Republicans who tried desperately in vain to prove he was not born in the U.S. and thus was ineligible to be president. It was a racist conspiracy theory championed by Republicans.
It was in that context that Obama said to Barnes: “So Mandela, get ready to dig up that birth certificate. Get ready.”
The audience howled with knowing applause as Obama told nothing but the truth.
But Obama wasn’t done.
He seemed to want to impress on the audience just how problematic such a racist lie and conspiracy theory truly was by cleverly pointing to the past to emphasize the present.
Sarcastically referring to the birther attacks as “the good old days,” Obama asked the audience if they remember when that was “the craziest thing that [Republicans] said.”
Amid the laughter, Obama got serious.
“Think about that,” he implored the crowd. “That wasn’t that long ago.”
Obama punctuated his point: “Now, it doesn’t even make the top 10 list of crazy.”
Watch Obama’s comments below.
From the 2020 election deniers to QAnon to worse, it didn’t appear that Obama’s words were even close to hyperbole.
This is America.
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