Former White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove is apparently in his feelings about the message that former president Barack Obama gave to the HBCU graduating class of 2020. On Monday, he told the hosts of Fox News’ Fox and Friends that he was disappointed Obama had turned the virtual address into a “political drive-by shooting.” 

“It is so unseemly for a former president to take the virtual commencement ceremony for a series of historically Black colleges and universities and turn it into a political drive-by shooting,” Rove said. 

The Republican strategist was talking specifically about comments Obama made about current leaders. “More than anything, this pandemic has fully, finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing,” he said. “A lot them aren’t even pretending to be in charge.”

Republican strategist Karl Rove criticizes Obama’s decision to speak on the handling of the pandemic during an HBCU graduation speech.

Obama never once calls Trump by name, but many people speculated that the former world leader was talking about his successor. The remarks led to Trump calling Obama “grossly incompetent” and Rove whitesplaing what Obama should have told the graduating students from historically Black institutions.   

“This is a moment where these young graduates could be inspired to a life of service, to recognize that life is going to bring challenges and how we handle the challenges is going to demonstrate our character,” Rove said. “There are lots of positive messages that the former president could have delivered.”

Despite receiving backlash from the right, Obama’s charge to the graduates to create meaningful change did ring positive to most. He reminded the aspiring professionals that they have the ability to lead despite what the status quo may say, and encouraged them to forge boldly out into their future. 

Black graduate. Karl Rove took issue with the words Barack Obama imparted on HBCU students.
In wake of the COVID-19 crisis, a coalition of HBCU leaders, advocacy organizations, and corporate partners came together to host the National HBCU Commencement Celebration. The virtual celebration featured celebrity hosts, motivational speakers, musical performances, and an address from Barack Obama. (Photo by Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images)

“If the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you,” Obama said. “Nobody can tell you anymore that you should be waiting your turn. Nobody can tell you anymore ‘this is how it’s always been done.’ More than ever, this is your moment—your generation’s world to shape.”

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