The crowd at the latest Trump rally was different from other crowds at previous rallies. They were children. Children who ranged in age from 7 to 18. They were Boy Scouts who belong to an organization that promotes the values of good citizenship and service to others in the community. Their oath is:
“On my honor, I will do my best. To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
For 80 years, American presidents have been speaking to the National Scout Jamboree, a gathering of tens of thousands of youngsters from around the world eager to absorb the ideas of service, citizenship and global diplomacy. In keeping with the Scouts’ traditions, all eight presidents have stayed far, far away from partisan politics. But as we all know, Trump prides himself on not being politically correct, on not showing respect for anyone, and yesterday was no exception. Apparently Donald Trump forgot where he was and to whom he was speaking, for his speech to the 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree resembled nothing more than a campaign rally.
A few snippets:
- “Tonight, we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C. — you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that. I said, who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts? Right? ” Remember this one …
- “You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians, and I see the swamp. And it’s not a good place. In fact today I said we ought to change it from the word swamp to the word cesspool or, perhaps, to the word sewer. But it’s not good. Not good.” What a way to instill respect for government, huh?
- “Secretary Tom Price is also here. Today Dr. Price still lives the Scout Oath, helping to keep millions of Americans strong and healthy as our Secretary of Health and Human Services. And he’s doing a great job. And hopefully, he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path toward killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare that’s really hurting us, folks. He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better — otherwise, I’ll say, Tom, you’re fired. I’ll get somebody. He better get Senator Capito to vote for it. You got to get the other senators to vote for it. It’s time. After seven years of saying repeal and replace Obamacare, we have a chance to now do it. They better do it.” Remember that these are children he is addressing, some as young as seven!
- “As the Scout Law says: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal” — we could use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.” His definition of loyalty may differ somewhat from the one used by the boy scouts.
- “By the way, what do you think the chances are that this incredible, massive crowd, record-setting is going to be shown on television tonight? One percent or zero? The fake media will say: President Trump — and you know what this is — President Trump spoke before a small crowd of Boy Scouts today. That’s some — that is some crowd. Fake media. Fake news.”
- “Now with that, I have to tell you our economy is doing great. Our stock market has picked up — since the election November 8th. Do we remember that date? Was that a beautiful date? What a date. Do you remember that famous night on television, November 8th, where they said — these dishonest people — where they said there is no path to victory for Donald Trump?” Again, remember the age group … did you care about the stock market when you were 10 years old?
- “The polls — that’s also fake news. They’re fake polls. But the polls are saying — but we won Wisconsin. So I have to tell you what we did, in all fairness, is an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other millions and millions of people that came out and voted for Make America Great Again.”
- “And by the way, do you see the billions and billions and billions of additional money that we’re putting back into our military? Billions of dollars. New planes, new ships, great equipment for our people that are so great to us.” By all means, Donnie, let’s encourage them to put warmongering above feeding the poor.
- “And by the way, under the Trump administration, you’ll be saying, merry Christmas again when you go shopping. Believe me. Merry Christmas. They’ve been downplaying that little, beautiful phrase. You’re going to be saying, merry Christmas again, folks.” Guess it never occurred to him that some of these kids might be from Jewish or Muslim families???
- “We’ll be back.” Doubtful.
In addition to the above, he told a long, pointless story about the real-estate developer William Levitt and alluded to “interesting” activities he engaged in on his yacht. The story is too wordy to repeat here, but you can read the transcript of his speech if you wish.
For some, it was reminiscent of a Hitler Youth rally.
At the very least, it was vile and highly inappropriate. If I had a son who had been there, I would be incensed, as I imagine many parents were. One mother wrote, “Done with scouts after you felt the need to have my kid listen to a liar stroke his ego on our time.” Interestingly, a post on the Jamboree’s blog had warned troops to be “courteous” and refrain from chanting phrases like “lock her up”. Apparently somebody realized in advance how Trump was likely to behave. Even so, that did not prevent the audience from applauding Trump’s partisan attacks and even booing when he mentioned Hillary Clinton. Indoctrination, anyone?
Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the occasion to talk about good citizenship. Harry S. Truman extolled fellowship: “When you work and live together, and exchange ideas around the campfire, you get to know what the other fellow is like,” he said.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower invoked the “bonds of common purpose and common ideals.” And President George H.W. Bush spoke of “serving others.” Trump destroyed that norm. His speech was widely and swiftly condemned by former Scouts.
“As a Scout leader, my stomach is in knots about what Trump did today. If you haven’t watched it yet, don’t. It’s downright icky.” – Chris Murphy, Connecticut
“This is nauseating. I’m an Eagle Scout and a former scoutmaster. The BSA was never partisan.” – Dan Kennedy