In a remarkable speech at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, Obama questioned Trump’s ability to lead the free world, saying the candidate has spent “70 years on this earth showing no regard for working people.” Obama also emphatically stated that “homegrown demagogues” would never succeed in the United States.
Obama’s contempt for people like Trump may be rooted in the values he learned as a teenager in Hawaii. It’s hard not to think of Trump when reading Obama’s 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father, in which he writes about the lessons he learned from older men on the basketball courts.
Obama writes (emphasis added):
By the time I reached high school, I was playing on Punahou’s teams, and could take my game to the university courts, where a handful of black men, mostly gym rats and has-beens, would teach me an attitude that didn’t just have to do with the sport. That respect came from what you did and not who your daddy was. That you could talk stuff to rattle an opponent, but that you should shut the hell up if you couldn’t back it up. That you didn’t let anyone sneak up behind you to see emotions ― like hurt or fear ― you didn’t want them to see.
Trump has built an entire career and presidential campaign around claims he can’t support. He has insisted that he is fabulously wealthy, but has had an astounding number of business flops and won’t release his tax returns. He has insisted that Mexico is sending rapists to the U.S., as well as that Obama was born in Africa and is secretly a Muslim. He claims to have seen thousands of Muslims cheering as the World Trade Center fell on 9/11 ― another lie.
He insists he is a self-made man, but his father’s wealth helped him significantly.
As Trump’s popularity has risen, Obama has continued to allude to the lessons he learned on the basketball court.
“We can’t meet the world with a sense of entitlement,” Obama said in his commencement address at Howard University in May.
“That’s a pet peeve of mine, people who’ve been successful and don’t realize they’ve been lucky, that God may have blessed them,” he added. “It wasn’t nothing you did, so don’t have an attitude.”