President Trump’s latest speech has broken the golden rule of public speaking know your audience leading to fury over a highly politicised speech to a Jamboree of 40,000 boy scouts in West Virginia.Fuming parents of the Scouts took to social media after the controversial speech in which the president railed against “fake news” and the Washington “sewer”.
“Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, DC, you’ve been hearing about with the fake news and all of that,” he told the boys who were there for outdoor activities and to develop leadership skills.
“You know, I go to Washington and I see all these politicians and I see the swamp and it’s not a good place.
“In fact, today I said we ought to change it from the word ‘swamp’ to the word ‘cesspool’ or perhaps to the word ‘sewer’. It’s not good. I see what’s going on and believe me, I’d much rather be with you, that I can tell you,” he said.
The president heaped scorn on the “fake media” and said the size of the crowd would be incorrectly reported. He also referred to “this horrible thing known as Obamacare” and saw President Obama a former scout booed by the audience.
The speech led to a swift backlash from parents who said they thought it was contradicting the Boy Scout ethos of courtesy and respect.
“My son and I, along with others I am sure, will be dropping out of scouts due to supporting behaviour that is contrary to the following Mission Statement,” Michael Christopher Stafford said on the organisation’s Facebook page.
Jude Nevans wrote that she was “done with scouts” after “you felt the need to have my kid listen to a liar stroke his ego on our time”.
Darlington Braden said “Shame on you. You should have asked Trump to do a video address. You knew what would happen. This is on you, and now your organisation is covered in Trump slime.”
Others watching it at home branded it “classless and disgraceful” to turn the event into a political rally. Film-maker and staunch anti-Trump campaigner, Michael Moore, branded it a “shocking abuse of children”. Even Obama’s former White House photographer Pete Souza weighed in with a picture of President Obama meeting a boy scout and saying “I can assure you, POTUS was not telling this cub scout and the boy scouts who followed about his electoral college victory.”
However, others did not see the big deal with Rob Corsino saying: “All of the people making their opinionated political splash comments about President Trump’s speech are actually probably making a bigger deal out of this then the kids even realise.”
Boy Scouts of America said it was a “non-partisan” group that did not “promote any one position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy”. It said Trump’s invitation to speak was a “longstanding tradition and is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies”.
Before the speech, the Scout Association had advised leaders to ensure the scout’s law of being “courteous and kind.”
“This includes understanding that chants of certain phrases heard during the campaign (e.g. “build the wall,” “lock her up”) are considered divisive by many members of our audience, and may cause unnecessary friction between individuals and units.
“Please help us ensure that all scouts can enjoy this historical address by making sure that your troop members are respectful not only of the President, but of the wide variety of viewpoints held by scouts and scouters in the audience tonight.”‘
Trump said he has 10 former boy scouts in his cabinet and White House, and brought a few on stage as examples of boy scout leadership in action, including Tom Price, his health secretary.
“Hopefully he’s going to get the votes tomorrow to start our path towards killing this horrible thing known as Obamacare,” Trump said, as the boys booed. “He better get them, otherwise I’ll say, ‘Tom, you’re fired!’,” he said, borrowing the catch phrase from his reality television show, The Apprentice.