But in delivering his final speech, it seems as though Obama has mastered another social subtlety: the subtweet, the Twitter-world equivalent of trash-talking someone without ever acknowledging his or her existence.
Obama may not have been wielding a smartphone in the House chamber on Tuesday night, but his speech he tore into his political opponents — including several top Republican presidential candidates — in unsparing terms. At times he was cutting and combative, at others he was sarcastic and even a tad funny.
“I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa,” he said near the beginning of his speech, a wink to the crowd of candidates hungry to take his job, some of whom are currently serving in the Senate. “I’ve been there. I’ll be shaking hands afterward if you want some tips.”
Much of Obama’s speech seemed to be a point-by-point rebuttal of the arguments that have skyrocketed Donald Trump to the top of the field.
Countering the bleak narratives that have dominated the campaign trail so far, Obama said anyone who says the economy is in decline is “peddling fiction” and “political hot air.”
He also unreservedly singled out Trump’s call for temporarily banning all Muslims from entering the country, saying that when politicians insult Muslims “that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong.”
“Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people?” Obama said. “Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?”
While Obama’s speech, at times, seemed to be an extended rejection of Trump’s politics, he also made indirect references to other presidential candidates, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has criticized Obama’s foreign policy and said he should “carpet bomb” the Islamic State.
“The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians,” Obama said. “That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.”
Read more: Mashable