Former president Barack Obama on April 24. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Unlike some former presidents, Barack Obama is showing no signs of completely abandoning public life.
Since leaving office, Obama has commented on major events or controversies, including the terrorist attack in Manchester, England, and Sen. John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis. He did so again on Saturday, after the deadly violence in Charlottesville.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion … People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love … For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite,” Obama said, quoting former South African president Nelson Mandela in tweets.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…” pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017
The first tweet, which shows a picture of Obama smiling at four children, has been retweeted more than 1.1 million times and liked 2.723 million times as of Tuesday evening.
The message became the most liked tweet of all time, surpassing Ariana Grande’s response to the deadly terrorist attack after her concert in Manchester. It also ranks No. 7 among the most retweeted tweets according to Favstar, a tweet tracking site.
This became the most-liked tweet ever today at 10:07 pm ET, Twitter spokesman says. It’s also the fifth most retweeted tweet ever. https://t.co/1MXvOcGJIY
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) August 16, 2017
Obama has used Twitter only sporadically since January, tweeting a handful of times every month to weigh in on national conversations. It’s unclear if Obama himself or a social media team is handling his Twitter handle.
President Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville has become the subject of widespread criticisms. In a statement Saturday, he condemned hatred and bigotry from “many sides,” not saying which “sides” he was referring to, or whose hatred and bigotry he was condemning. Many Democrats and some Republicans took issue with Trump for not calling out white nationalists or white supremacists, even after a car, allegedly driven by a neo-Nazi sympathizer, plowed into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 others.
On Monday, after two days of criticisms, Trump finally explicitly condemned hate groups, “including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists.”
[Timeline: How the growing anger finally pushed Trump to denounce white supremacists]
But on Tuesday, Trump defended his earlier statement in a highly combative news conference.
“Before I make a statement, I like to know the facts,” Trump told reporters, also reiterating his belief that both sides are to blame for the violence.
Obama did not comment on the White House’s statements on Charlottesville and has largely avoided criticizing his successor.
In June, however, he weighed in on two of the current administration’s major policy items: climate change and health care.
He criticized the Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. Trump, who has labeled climate change a “hoax,” had promised to “cancel” the climate deal and Obama-era regulations that he said were killing jobs and industries. Obama issued a statement in early June that not-so-subtlety called the administration’s policies on climate change antiquated.
[Trump didn’t call out white supremacists. He was rebuked by members of his own party.]
“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack,” Obama said. “But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect future generations the one planet we’ve got.”
Later that month, on June 22, the Senate released a draft of a health-care bill that would roll back much of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Obama wrote a lengthy Facebook post in response.
“I recognize that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act has become a core tenet of the Republican Party. Still, I hope that our Senators, many of whom I know well, step back and measure what’s really at stake, and consider that the rationale for action, on health care or any other issue, must be something more than simply undoing something that Democrats did,” Obama wrote.
He said that the Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, is “not a health-care bill” — but a “massive transfer of wealth” from the poor and middle class to the wealthy.
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