Former President Obama seems to have a problem with his successor in the White House and the Republicans who are pushing to repeal his signature health care law.
Obama was speaking at the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston as he accepted the annual Profile in Courage Award. The former president pointed out that in 2010, several lawmakers lost their congressional seats after voting for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He also emphasized that those men and women did the right thing by displaying a profile in courage.
Obama also took aim at current members of Congress by saying that they ought to note that it does require some courage to champion the vulnerable and the sick and the infirm those who often have no access to the corridors of power.
His speech came just three days after House Republicans narrowly voted to repeal ACA on a 217-213 vote. The move was passed without any support from Democrats and despite a handful of No votes from mostly moderate Republicans. It faces an uncertain fate in the Senate, where Republicans hold just a four-seat majority.
It’s such an oxymoron that Obama went ahead to warn the lawmakers by claiming that they should understand that courage means not simply doing what’s politically expedient, but doing what, deep in our hearts, we know is right.
Away from healthcare, he also indirectly criticized Trump’s efforts to deport millions of illegal immigrants and ban travelers from Muslim-majority countries, warning Americans against falling into the refuge of differences in tribe or religion.
Obama emphasized that current moments call for courage. Adding that people need the courage to stand up to hate not just in others but in themselves.
He also warned against cynicism on the political system, saying that Justice and freedom and equality and kindness and generosity doesn’t happen on its own, adding that choices have to be made continuously since progress is fragile.
Obama received the award, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation noted, for expanding health security to millions of Americans. He has now joined Republican presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.
The award is named for a 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book by JFK that profiled eight U.S. senators who risked their careers by taking principled though unpopular positions.
The former president thanked Kennedy for leading with a steady hand during the Cold War in general and the Cuban Missile Crisis specifically. He noted that the example of JFK and his brother Robert F. Kennedy helped guide him into politics.