Trump’s speech to the Boy Scouts seemed more like a campaign rally
It’s impossible to avoid politics these days, no matter where you turn. Not even the Boy Scouts are immune.
To be fair, they did invite the president to speak. To be blunt, I highly doubt they expected him to waste an opportunity to educate and inspire an entire generation of young boys by airing his boilerplate list of personal grievances and encourage them to join him in his petty score-settling and all-encompassing narcissism.
Most of us lost hope long ago that President Trump would ever surmount his own ego, insecurities, and all around distastefulness to ever “pivot” or become “presidential,” but if you were looking for the nail in the coffin of his dignity, he was handing them out in droves at the 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree on Monday night.
The jamboree is held every four years, and gathers thousands of scouts together to celebrate the activities and ideals that make being a Boy Scout such an essential part of the American fabric. The jamboree, like the boy scout association itself, typically focuses on building character and inspiring leadership.
Which made President Trump, who’s never heard a bullying stereotype he wouldn’t embrace and who currently holds an approval rating in the mid-thirties, an odd choice for a keynote speaker.
He didn’t disappoint. Unless by “didn’t” you mean of course he did.
He kicked things off by complaining about the “fake news” coverage of the crowd size despite the fact that there hadn’t been any coverage because the event was literally happening as he spoke. (Dude not only lies relentlessly about the past, now he’s lying about the future!) Then he dropped the word “hell” (“”Who the Hell wants to talk about politics when I am in front of the Boy Scouts?”) because Trump loves nothing more than the sound of cheering and there’s no better way to get kids to cheer than saying a naughty word.
His speech went on to include:
- bragging about the electoral college because getting elected is literally the only thing he’s accomplished since last fall (give or take his peerless ability to be investigated for wrongdoing);
- boasting about “doing a lot with energy” even though he hasn’t done much of anything;
- threatening to fire a cabinet member if he didn’t succeed in repealing Obamacare, then, in the next breath, preaching loyalty; and
- a vow that they’d be saying “Merry Christmas” again, in the middle of July.
The President of the United States of America went on to tell 40,000 Boy Scouts about NYC night life, praise the economy (is there a Stock Market badge?), mock Hillary Clinton’s campaign strategy, and imply that the thousands of children in the audience were responsible for him being president despite the fact that most of them couldn’t have voted in the election.
I thought he said he wasn’t going to discuss politics?
Shockingly, all of these remarks came after Trump ditched the teleprompter, presumably because, unlike the Boy Scouts, his motto is “Never Be Prepared Because Preparation Doesn’t Matter When Truth No Longer Exists.”
I’m not a Boy Scout, mostly because I don’t like camping, and my kids aren’t Boy Scouts either, mostly because an organization that has to essentially be forced to stop excluding people because of their sexual orientation is not one I’d like them to be a part of. (Also they’re too young.)
Many of the things they teach are useful skills, and I’m sure a lot of their events and activities are a blast for their members. But I’ve never been more happy to miss a scout-related event.
In years past, when other presidents spoke at the jamboree, most recently such as President George W. Bush and President Clinton, they left the politics at the White House and gave speeches about values. They spoke about the things Boy Scouts teach the children and young men who comprise their ranks: character, service, duty, country.
Trump made a few feints in that direction, such as when he said “Through scouting, you also learn to believe in yourself, so important, to have confidence in your ability and to take responsibility for your own life.” But the overall tone of his speech was no different than one of his Twitter rants, in which he attacked other people, listed a variety of grievances (many of which are imaginary), and generally embarrassed himself and the country in the process.
The jamboree, like the organization that throws it, is meant to be dedicated to the best people have to offer, to push its members to strive for more, to lead the way to bigger accomplishments and a brighter future. Typically, the president is on hand to support that message, and amplify it.
Instead, President Trump supported only himself, so important, and amplified nothing but his own worst qualities.