Election 2020

'It Wasn't Nothing You Did'

Your president and mine, addressing the graduating class at historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C., on Saturday:

“And that means we have to not only question the world as it is, and stand up for those African Americans who haven’t been so lucky — because, yes, you’ve worked hard, but you’ve also been lucky. That’s a pet peeve of mine: People who have been successful and don’t realize they’ve been lucky. That God may have blessed them; it wasn’t nothing you did. So don’t have an attitude. But we must expand our moral imaginations to understand and empathize with all people who are struggling, not just black folks who are struggling — the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender person, and yes, the middle-aged white guy who you may think has all the advantages, but over the last several decades has seen his world upended by economic and cultural and technological change, and feels powerless to stop it. You got to get in his head, too.”

There’s so much wrong with this that it’s hard to know where to begin — the deliberate grammatical error as a condescending nod to his audience? The hoarse and angry delivery? The Islamic finger-wagging? The ascription of success to luck instead of talent and hard work? (Obama’s “pet peeve,” to which the only rejoinder can be: “you ought to know about luck.”) Feel free to add your own.

Video here at the link.