President Obama Bemoans 'Poisonous Political Climate,' Calls for Civility

PHOTO:Barack Obama addresses the Illinois General Assembly at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Feb. 10, 2016. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Barack Obama addresses the Illinois General Assembly at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., Feb. 10, 2016.

In a not-so-subtle jab at Donald Trump, President Obama today railed against low-brow political discourse, calling for a “modicum of civility.”

Rather than reward the most extreme voices or whoever is best at “launching schoolyard taunts,” the president told Illinois lawmakers in Springfield that “we should insist on a higher form of political discourse that is based on respect.”

Being president is a “big deal” and something we should “revere,” Obama said.

Returning to the site where he launched his presidential campaign nine years ago, the president bemoaned the state of American politics in a lengthy, more than hour-long speech.

Though he did not mention any of the presidential candidates by name, his message to them, and to all politicians, was clear.

“What can we do, all of us together to try to make our politics better. And I speak to both sides on this, because all of you know it could be better. And all of you would feel prouder of the work you do if it were better,” he said.

"Our children are watching what we do. They don’t just learn it from school they learn it by watching us the way we conduct ourselves, the way we treat each other. If we lie about each other, they learn it’s OK to lie. If they make up facts and ignore science, then they just think it’s their opinion that matters,” he said.

“If they see us insulting each other like school kids then they think well I guess that’s how people are supposed to behave. The way we respect or don’t this -- each other as citizens -- will determine whether the hard, frustrating but absolutely necessary work of self-government continues," he added.