Obama takes swipe at Trump as he warns against ‘lying politicians’

Barack Obama took a thinly-veiled swipe at Donald Trump yesterday as he warned against the dangers of ‘strongman politics’.

The former President of the United States did not refer to his successor by name but said the world should resist cynicism over the rise of strongmen.

The speech was among the most pointed comments he has made about politics since leaving office in January 2017.

In a speech in Johannesburg to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, Obama said: "Just as people spoke about the triumph of democracy in the 90s, people now are talking about the triumph of tribalism and the strong man.

"But we need to resist that cynicism."

Some of Obama’s language echoed that of Trump’s critics.

He continued: "Too much of politics today seems to reject the very concept of objective truth. People just make stuff up. They just make stuff up.

"We see it in the growth of state sponsored propaganda. We see it in Internet-driven fabrications. We see it in the in the blurring of lines between news and entertainment.

"We see the utter loss of shame among political leaders where they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and they lie some more.

"Let me say politicians have always lied but it used to be if you caught them lying, they’d be like ‘oh man’. Now they just keep on lying."

Obama said there were far-right parties in the West that have platforms of protectionism and closed borders but also a "barely hidden racial nationalism".

Since leaving the White House, Obama has largely avoided direct involvement in US politics and has refrained from criticising Trump.

Some Democrats say he should play a more direct role.

On Monday Trump sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, casting doubt on the findings of his own US intelligence agencies and sparking a storm of criticism at home.

During his speech, given in a stadium to thousands of politicians, businesspeople and students, Obama lauded Mandela’s life of sacrifice and commitment to social justice.

Mandela, a giant of the struggle against apartheid who served as South Africa’s president from 1994 to 1999, died in 2013 aged 95.

Obama, who also visited Kenya this week, also praised South Africa’s current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, saying he had instilled "new hope" among South Africans.

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