Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Scout chief apologizes for exposing children to sitting U.S. president

(Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump descended back into his murky, toxic element earlier this week, basking in the chanting adulation of a bunch of people with no built-in resistance to his brand of half-baked carnival barker patter and vitriolic attacks on his enemies. Specifically, Trump was talking to children, at the quadrennial Boy Scouts Jamboree, regaling them with tales of sex yachts and what turned out to be preemptive, unfounded confidence about his ability to kill Obamacare. The Scouts in attendance apparently ate it all up, though, responding with chants of “USA, USA” and deafening cheers to his calls for “loyalty” and slams on Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in a manner that in no way conjured up images of any other political leaders who might have tried to organize his country’s young people (or “Youth”) into an organized political bloc.


And while we know Trump derives much of his mandate to rule from the glowing support of 9-year-olds, a number of adult Scouts expressed their anger at the politicization of the Jamboree, venting on social media and demanding that the organization issue an apology for the president’s remarks. Chief Scout Michael Surbaugh has now done so, posting a statement to the organization’s Scouting Wire blog today, titled “From The Chief: Our Perspective On The Presidential Visit.” Although he emphasizes that Trump’s visit was a very small part of the overall ten-day-long experience—and notes that it’s standard procedure to invite sitting presidents to come speak—Surbaugh did manage to score a “Diplomatic Apology For P.R. Purposes” merit badge with his reaction to the political nature of Trump’s speech.

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.

(And here’s the part of the story where we were forced, by the political realities of America in 2017, to go see if the President of the United States had issued a statement condemning the heads of the Boy Scouts Of America as traitors on Twitter. So far, not yet!)

The thousands of comments on Surbaugh’s post capture the typical political reality of America, as various people condemn him for apologizing, for not apologizing hard enough, and for the concept of apologies in general. Meanwhile, nobody’s apologized to the rest of us yet, for the lingering willies we’ve still got from hearing so many teen and pre-teen minds rapturously cheering and booing along with Trump’s symphony of bullshit.


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