On Monday, Donald Trump raised eyebrows and ire with a politically-charged speech given at the Boy Scouts of America National Scout Jamboree. In his address, which many have deemed more appropriate for the campaign trail than a group of 40,000 or so scouts, Trump dogged on the so-called “fake news” media, called Washington a “cesspool,” talked up his now-failed ACA repeal and replacement plan, and even harkened back boastfully to his unexpected election victory last November.
As CNN reports, Trump appeared aware that he was talking a bit out of turn, even as he gave his Boy Scout speech, rhetorically questioning who would want to “talk politics” in front of a bunch of young scouts.
“Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?”
Despite the question to himself, Donald Trump continued to fill his National Scout Jamboree speech with more political rhetoric. The president even managed to insult the “disloyal” in Washington, D.C., by invoking the Boy Scouts’ famous loyalty pledge.
“We could really use some more loyalty, I will tell you that.”
The response to the Trump Boy Scout speech was almost instantaneous, with both the mainstream media and social media calling out the president’s words as inappropriate and even somewhat shocking.
Many took to Twitter to proclaim their offense at the situation. Many were not so much put out by Trump’s words, but at the venue he chose to speak them.
I served proudly as a Boy Scout in my youth. Trump has none of the virtues of a scout, and his speech to them was, like him, embarrassing.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) July 25, 2017
The speech to the Boy Scout Jamboree is THE most disgraceful spectacle I have ever seen @realDonaldTrump is a piss poor example of a human.
— Paul Reggio (@PaulReggio1) July 25, 2017
Trump's Boy Scout speech had the feel of a third world authoritarian's youth rally.
— john mclaughlin (@jmclaughlinSAIS) July 25, 2017
Why did trump use Boy Scout jamboree 2spew Venomous ADULT speech,instead of talking about GOOD THEY DO. Is He trying 2form “trump youth”club
— Cher (@cher) July 25, 2017
On Thursday, Michael Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, issued a public apology letter on behalf of the organization, actually apologizing for the words of a sitting president in what appears to be an unprecedented move. According to Surbaugh, Trump inserted “political rhetoric” into the speech, a move that deeply offended many involved in scouting.
“I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent.”
The Monday Trump speech deviated significantly from Jamboree speeches given by his predecessors, politicians who used the podium to speak of topics integral to the Boy Scouts, such as community service and personal values, rather than divisive partisan politics.
The Boy Scouts of America apologized for political remarks made by President Trump at the organization’s jamboree https://t.co/f2xsJGVz8o
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 28, 2017
In his letter, the BSA executive accused Trump of “overshadowing” the annual Scout Jamboree with his politically-fueled speech.
“These character-building experiences have not diminished in recent days at the jamboree — Scouts have continued to trade patches, climb rock walls, and share stories about the day’s adventures. But for our Scouting family at home not able to see these real moments of Scouting, we know the past few days have been overshadowed by the remarks offered by the President of the United States.”
Surbaugh also made it clear in his Thursday letter that inviting Trump to speak was not politically motivated, but part of a scouting tradition that goes back to 1937. He reiterated that the Boy Scouts strive to remain politically neutral, and that Trump’s speech did not reflect the views of the organization or its mission statement before once again apologizing for Trump’s inflammatory words.
“For years, people have called upon us to take a position on political issues, and we have steadfastly remained nonpartisan and refused to comment on political matters. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.”
— The Hill (@thehill) July 27, 2017
While many have publicly applauded the timely public response of the Boy Scouts of America to Monday’s politically-charged speech, some on the right are calling out the organization for “taking it upon themselves to apologize” for the Trump’s words.
As Fox News reports, conservative contributor Todd Starnes is calling on “every red-blooded, God-loving patriot to sever ties with the Boy Scouts of America.” According to Starnes, the apology “brought shame and disgrace” upon the Boy Scouts.
“In doing so the leadership of the BSA has brought shame and disgrace upon what was once a storied and revered organization.”
And he’s not alone in his way of thinking. Following the public apology, social media lit up with conservative activists furious that Trump had been so publicly called out for his political rhetoric at the National Scout Jamboree.
— PARIS (@PARISDENNARD) July 29, 2017
The BoyScouts of America is apologizing for President Trumps "political rhetoric." Please call and support POTUS 972-580-2000 ????????????????????????
— Vote Trump 2020 (@GoTrumpFL) July 27, 2017
My take on this is that a snowflake boy scout leader wanted attention. The boy scouts seemed to love having @POTUS speak to them.
— T0m Ph1ll1p$ (@BareDownCB) July 27, 2017
Despite the controversy that has ensued, the White House has yet to apologize for the Trump National Scout Jamboree speech that has now been described by the Boy Scouts of America as being filled with “political rhetoric.” As the Washington Examiner reports, new White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders won’t even say whether or not she believes Trump should apologize for his partisan, un-Boy Scout-like words.
“I was at that event and I saw nothing but roughly 40-45,000 Boy Scouts cheering the President on throughout his remarks. I think they were pretty excited that he was there and happy to hear him speak to them.”
In fact, even though the Boy Scouts of America issued a public apology for the Trump speech, Sanders boasted on Thursday that the Jamboree crowd was one of the “most energetic” Trump crowds she has seen.
[Featured Image by Steve Helber/File/AP Images]