Yesterday Donald Trump spoke at the Boy Scout's National Jamboree. This is a standing invitation to every United States President.
Seven of the last eleven Presidents have taken the Scouts up on their offer since the Jamboree began in 1937.
None of those seven Presidents ever took the opportunity to turn a day of celebration into a political rally, but that did not stop Trump from doing so. Over the course of his speech, Trump:
- Bragged about his Electoral victory
- Complained about loyalty in his administration
- Bragged about his "Michigan strategy" during the election
- Attacked the "fake media" and "fake news"
- Disparaged President Obama
- Disparaged Hillary Clinton
- Threatened local politicians about the upcoming healthcare vote
I was a Boy Scout for all of my childhood, and in many ways, it might have been the best thing to happen to me as a kid.
As an adult, I have served as an assistant Scoutmaster and am a member of Camp Yawgoog's alumni association. It's an imperfect organization, to be sure, and there are many things about the organization that I don't like, but it's also an organization that I love and hope my son will love someday, too.
What Donald Trump did yesterday disgusts me. Not only did he trample on decades of tradition, but he did so for no conceivable reason.
Why turn a speech to thousands of boys into a political rally?
The Boy Scouts are explicitly apolitical. They do not endorse political candidates. Scouts are not permitted to wear uniforms at political events. Scouts are specifically taught to never make their service about politics.
Trump did this for the reason he does so many things: In service of himself. He had an opportunity to address thousands of boys, and instead of inspiring them, he talked about himself. He bragged about himself.
I'm disgusted on a daily basis by the actions and words of this man, but this one hit home for me especially hard. Every year boys gather to celebrate this organization that they love, and Trump treated it as if they were gathering for him. He turned a Boy Scout Jamboree into a self-flagellating rally of for his own ego.
I am not going to be surprised by anything he says or does ever again. Nor should I.
Shortly after his election, he stunned CIA employees by delivering a similar speech before the agency’s Memorial Wall. On Saturday, he stunned a crowd of uniformed personnel at the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford by urging them to lobby Congress in support of his agenda.
The man is self serving in every possible way.
The Boy Scouts are in a difficult position now. While I'm sure the organization would like to denounce at least some of the things that Trump said, they are strictly apolitical and will likely remain silent rather than breaking with this long-standing tradition. Instead, they will have to depend on the hundreds of thousands of Scouts and Scoutmasters around the country who are expressing their disgust today to speak on their behalf.
For the record, Trump was never a Boy Scout. The only dealings he ever had with the organization before yesterday was in a 1989 when Donald, Jr. joined.
The membership was $7 in those days, and Trump didn't pay out of pocket. He took the money from charity.
Even back in 1989, Trump was failing to uphold any of the ideals of Scouting.