That was some speech POTUS gave at the 2017 National Scout jamboree. The quadrennial celebration of the Boy Scout brotherhood draws thousands of Scouts from across the country, all eager to mingle, swap patches, and indulge in 10-days of wholesome fun and entertainment. They are Boy Scouts after all. Starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937, presidential incumbents have always spoken at these gatherings (Barack Obama videoed his message in 2010) – in a bipartisan manner.
But today Donald Trump is the president of these United States. For the first time in eighty years The Commander-in-Chief eschewed tradition, and instead of speaking to these boys about Scout values and their power to affect positive change in our country and the world, this man focused his words entirely on himself. And his business and political prowess. He spoke about his White House win and his enemies. He told them it was the responsibility of his subordinates to see that his plans succeeded. The buck does not make it to him. He joked with these children about the punishments he would dole out if they failed. “Tom you’re fired,” he said to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, evidently tasked with killing ObamaCare.
In a speech rife with partisanship and braggadocio our leader gave the boys a lesson in the importance of being loyal to Donald J Trump. Working the crowd of one-day-voters like the con man he is, Donald whipped them into a patriotic frenzy that ended with them chanting “USA, USA!” by including them in the ‘grown-up’ conversation. He thanked them for their votes?? by saying his election was “an unbelievable tribute to you and all of the other of millions and millions of people that came out and voted for ‘Make America Great Again.’” He talked about another businessman’s travails – William Levitt – that included descriptions of a ‘fast life on a yacht.’ “You know Life,” he said conspiratorially, wink-wink to the Boy Scouts, “You’re Boy Scouts.” The parable ended with its subject presumably in disgrace and at a cocktail party “where all the hottest people in New York were…”?!
The thing is, watching those kids laugh, and cheer…seeing their raucous response to Trump as he demeaned Hilary Clinton, Democrats and anyone else who dared to oppose his vision chilled me to the bone. I remember seeing videos of similarly aged and moved crowds – cheering for a different man. The red armbands those youngsters wore now make me think of red caps.