Obama suggested Trump has gone too far. He said the Republican nominee’s brand of “resentment, and blame, and anger, and hate” are not just unexceptional, they’re un-American.
[T]hat is not the America I know.
The America I know is full of courage, and optimism, and ingenuity. The America I know is decent and generous. Sure, we have real anxieties—about paying the bills, protecting our kids, caring for a sick parent. We get frustrated with political gridlock, worry about racial divisions; are shocked and saddened by the madness of Orlando or Nice. There are pockets of America that never recovered from factory closures; men who took pride in hard work and providing for their families who now feel forgotten; parents who wonder whether their kids will have the same opportunities we had.
All that is real. We’re challenged to do better; to be better. But as I’ve traveled this country, through all fifty states; as I’ve rejoiced with you and mourned with you, what I’ve also seen, more than anything, is what is right with America. I see people working hard and starting businesses; people teaching kids and serving our country. I see engineers inventing stuff, and doctors coming up with new cures. I see a younger generation full of energy and new ideas, not constrained by what is, ready to seize what ought to be.
Most of all, I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together – black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young and old; gay, straight, men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance, under the same proud flag, to this big, bold country that we love.
His idea of exceptionalism is far closer to Reagan’s “city on a hill” than the dystopia Trump described at his nominating convention—an existence so grim that a savior is needed to make America great again. Trump declared, “I alone can fix it.”
Michelle Obama answered Trump first, reminding Americans on Monday night that she wakes up in a home built by slaves and yet her daughters—“two beautiful, intelligent, black young women”—take for granted that a woman can be president.
"[D]on’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again,” she said. “Because this, right now, is the greatest country on earth.”
Her husband picked up the theme. “America is already great,” he said. “America is already strong. And I promise you, our strength, our greatness, does not depend on Donald Trump.”
“In fact, it doesn’t depend on any one person. And that, in the end, may be the biggest difference in this election—the meaning of our democracy,” the president said. “Ronald Reagan called America ‘a shining city on a hill.’ Donald Trump calls it “a divided crime scene” that only he can fix.”
This is political judo: Obama is telling Americans that Trump is not just attacking the political establishment, he’s attacking them.