Former President George W. Bush senior adviser Karl Rove accused Barack Obama—the nation’s first black president—of committing a “political drive-by shooting” on Monday for subtly criticizing President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response in a commencement speech for historically black colleges.
During his virtual address on Saturday to HBCUs, the former president seemed to take the current administration to task, saying the COVID-19 crisis that has killed roughly 90,000 Americans has “finally torn back the curtain on the idea that so many of the folks in charge know what they’re doing.”
Covering Obama’s remarks, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade grumbled that the former commander-in-chief was supposedly breaking a rule that ex-presidents shouldn’t criticize their successors.
“I thought he was supposed to be inspiring the next generation of graduates,” the pro-Trump host said to Rove, now a Fox News contributor.
“I don’t know if that fits in, but it must sound familiar because isn’t—didn't President Obama take countless shots at you and the Bush administration?” Kilmeade added without a hint of irony, considering the current president’s recent “Obamagate” fixation—among his many tweet-based obsessions about his predecessor.
“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 replied.
Rove would then go on and lecture Obama on how he should have used his commencement address, saying the former president could have told the graduates to “recognize that life is going to bring challenges.”
Rove’s Monday morning remarks quickly sparked backlash online, with critics calling it a “racial dog-whistle” while noting that this was par for the course for the former Bush hatchetman.
“Karl Rove engineered a push poll during the 2000 SC primary that asked voters if they would be less likely to vote for McCain if they knew he had an illegitimate black child,” journalist Yashar Ali posted. “He knew this attack would work because the McCain’s 9-year-old daughter Bridget was from Bangladesh.”
Ex-Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor, meanwhile, said that Rove “absolutely chose these words on purpose,” adding that Fox News will ignore gun violence while booking “sad old hacks like Rove to stoke racial resentment and tone police Obama while Trump tweets like a lunatic.”