Michael Surbaugh, the Chief Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America, just issued a statement in response to Donald Trump‘s remarks at the National Jamboree which resembled one of his political rallies.
It completely misses the point.
… 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.
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 invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition that has been extended to the leader of our nation that has had a Jamboree during his term since 1937. It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies. For years, people have called upon us to take a position on political issues, and we have steadfastly remained non-partisan and refused to comment on political matters. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.
While we live in a challenging time in a country divided along political lines, the focus of Scouting remains the same today as every day.
Yes, it’s tradition to invite the President. No one should blame the Scouts for Trump’s bad behavior. The President alone deserves condemnation for what he said.
What’s appalling, however, is how the Scouts allowed Trump to keep talking for nearly 40 minutes even after it was readily apparent he was turning the event into a campaign rally. They could’ve cut his mic. Someone could’ve gone on stage to stop him mid-speech (as a pastor once did at an event in Flint, Michigan). They could’ve at least apologized immediately afterwards.
They didn’t do any of those things. They waited nearly three days to issue a half-hearted “I’m sorry if you were offended” apology. It’s pathetic.
There’s also no apology for how the Scouts in the crowd went along with so much of what Trump said. They booed when he set them up. They cheered as if they were all wearing MAGA hats. They showed absolutely none of the leadership skills they’ve been taught.
By the way, during his speech, Trump asked the crowd if President Obama had ever come to a Jamboree as a way to get the crowd to boo his predecessor. Obama wasn’t there in person in 2010, though he sent a video message.
But at least his statement didn’t force the Boy Scouts to apologize afterwards.