The Boy Scouts guide members to be prepared and help their community. They're seen as wholesome do-gooders in the community, and on Monday, President Donald Trump had the opportunity to speak to the young scouts and impart his wisdom. So what did he say to these eager kids? A whole lot about health care and New York cocktail parties. Needless to say, Trump's speech turned into an unfocused rant and left us all really confused.
The Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organizations in America with more than 2.4 million youth participants. Since 1937, they've held a National Scout Jamboree, which is an outdoors camp in West Virginia, about every four years. An integral part of this tradition is a speech from the president.
For Trump's speech on Monday at the jamboree, people came from 50 states and 60 nations, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail. There were approximately 40,000 Scouts, a pretty monumental size, though a little less than Trump predicted at 45,000. Then again, he’s not the best judge of crowd sizes.
CNN reports that Trump began by saying, "Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I'm in front of the Boy Scouts?"
Yet, Trump went on to do just that. While he occasionally offered advice to the Scouts, his 35-minute speech jumped around. He ended up talking about the economy, firing a member of his cabinet, Washington (“I see the swamp and it’s not a good place”), his relationship with the press, his attempts to repeal Obamacare ("By the way, you going to get the votes? He better get them. He better get them. Oh, he better. Otherwise, I'll say: Tom [Price] you're fired.”), a strange story about William Levitt (the father of American suburbia) that was meant to provide life advice, his feelings about the Electoral College and of course, making America great again.
This is significant, inappropriate and confusing because it broke with about 80 years of tradition. The past eight Presidents and representatives who spoke at the jamboree stayed far away from discussing politics at such a moral and patriotic event, according to The Washington Post. It's meant to celebrate service and common ideals, not be used as a political platform.
According to The Hill, the speech also featured boos against former President Barack Obama for not attending a Jamboree in person. Trump’s statements about the “fake media” received both boos and cheers, according to BBC.
Trump also offered some solid advice. “When you do something that you love – remember this – it’s not work,” he said. “When you’re not doing something that you like, that’s called work. And it’s hard work and it's tedious work.”
The reactions on social media for #BoyScoutSpeech were mixed. Some praised the President…
— #ThePersistence (@ScottPresler) July 25, 2017
...and others compared him to Hitler
Can't believe this piece of [poop]. President got thousands of boys to boo Obama... he turned the Boy Scouts into the Hitler Youth #BoyScoutSpeech
— Cyrus McQueen (@CyrusMMcQueen) July 25, 2017
...and others wondered why Trump spoke at the Jamboree at all.
Donald Trump is speaking to the Boy Scouts. Has a President ever been in deeper contradiction with Scout values? pic.twitter.com/UYfdi39nH9
— Josh Greenman (@joshgreenman) July 24, 2017
“The Boy Scouts of America is wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy,” the Boy Scouts said in a statement on Monday. “The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition and is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies.”
That is a true statement, but it’s interesting to consider that Trump was not a member of the Boy Scouts, whereas former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were. Obama was reportedly a member of the Indonesian Scout Association.
While the Twitter comments only reflect the growing polarization of our country, Boy Scouts are supposed to promote unity and compassion. Their role models should certainly be doing the same.