Culture Beat / May 16, 2016

Obama’s Political Stump Speech as Commencement Address

What parting words could the chief executive give the graduates?

A friendly reminder: If you invite Barack Obama to deliver a commencement address for a college’s graduation, you’ll be treated to a speech full of campaign posturing and arguments for why his eight years in office mattered.

On Sunday, Obama stood before a crowd in Rutgers University football stadium. In a few moments, the class of 2016 was going to leave their safe space and head out into the world hopefully to use their degrees to contribute to the betterment of their world and their communities. What parting words could the chief executive give them to help them during their transition on their way? Jabs at Republicans, conservatism in general and even an end zone dance over the highlights of his eight years in office, that’s what.

For example, Obama said, making a thinly veiled jab at the Republican candidate for president, “The world is more interconnected than ever before, and it’s becoming more connected every day. Building walls won’t change that.”

He also displayed a stunning lack of self-awareness, warning that “in politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue.” Indeed, he said, “It’s not cool to not know what you are talking about. That’s not keeping it real or telling it like it is. That’s not challenging political correctness. That’s just not knowing what you are talking about.”

Last week, Obama downplayed the efforts by Howard University graduates by telling them they arrived to where they were that day mostly by luck. They say you don’t remember what the commencement speaker says at your graduation. For Obama’s speeches, this is doubly so.

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