At a campaign event in North Carolina on Wednesday, U.S. President Trump responded to a speech given by President Barack Obama earlier that day at a Biden campaign event. In his speech, the former president openly and scathingly criticized his successor in ways he has not previously. It was another effort to galvanize voters ahead of the contentious November 3 election day, but predictably, Trump felt the need to fire back — and to make sure to throw in a racist dog whistle while he did it.
“I think the only one more unhappy than crooked Hillary that night [of the 2016 election] was Barack Hussein Obama,” Trump told his North Carolina rally crowd, at which point they burst into chants of “Four more years!” But Trump’s inclusion of Obama’s middle name was intentional — he knows that many of his supporters adhere to the racist birtherism theory that Trump himself has promoted, which is the belief that Obama was born in Kenya and smuggled into the U.S. as an infant and is therefore not eligible to hold the office of president. Obama’s second name is often used as a form of proof regarding the demonstrably false claim.
But this wasn't enough to distract from the former president's earlier speech. For his part, Obama’s remarks came during a drive-in rally in Pennsylvania — his first in-person speech on behalf of the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ticket. Obama, like most of the Democrats, has generally chosen not to stoop to levels of personal insults or playing dirty that Trump employs, a tactic that has been criticized by people who believe the Democratic establishment needs to throw out the old rules of civility and play by the Trump playbook in order to beat him. Obama’s speech Wednesday had shades of that.
"His TV ratings are down. So you know that upsets him," Obama said, in a targeted comment aimed to insult the president’s obsession with his ratings. "But the thing is, this is not a reality show. This is reality. And the rest of us have to live with the consequences of him proving himself incapable of taking the job seriously." Obama continued by making a dig that the poor job Trump has done in taking over the presidency: "He did inherit the longest streak of job growth in history, but just like everything else he inherited, he messed it up."
As the election draws nearer and Biden’s lead in the polls continues to grow, the Trump campaign is throwing everything it can at the wall to see what sticks: From sending Tiffany to a mess of a Pride event, to baselessly investigating Biden’s Amtrak trips. Desperate times call for desperate measures and that’s exactly how Trump looks right now: desperate.