At the National Boy Scout Jamboree, President Trump gave a speech that was, by dictionary definition, inappropriate. To a crowd of 35,000 boys who recite a creed that they will be “courteous,” “kind” and “reverent,” the president swore. “Who the hell wants to talk about politics?” he said, before beginning a speech about politics, before an organization that is avowedly apolitical. He talked about his electoral college victory — chastising Hillary Clinton for not working hard enough in Wisconsin — and a cocktail party in New York City. He threatened Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price, who stood onstage, to round up votes for Trumpcare or “You’re fired.” He goaded the boys into booing President Obama. He plugged the repeal of Obamacare, and the boys chanted “USA! USA! USA!”
There was not much in the way of traditional inspiration or mentorly advice. But it will go down in history as the first Jamboree — and perhaps the first presidential speech, period — that had commentators, former scouts and Twitter users drawing a direct line from the chanting, uniformed crowd to the Hitler Youth.
Enter Pete Souza.
The former official White House photographer under President Obama, Souza has become something of a master of the artful Instagram burn. After a particularly grotesque Trump action, he will post a picture from the Obama administration reinforcing presidential norms. For example, after Trump refused to shake German chancellor Angela Merkel’s hand, Souza posted a photo of she and Obama embracing. After Trump decried members of the G10 to their faces, Souza posted a shot of Obama and the other leaders laughing effusively.
After yesterday’s speech, in which Trump criticized Obama for never attending a Jamboree — although Obama was a Boy Scout, and Trump was not — Souza posted this photo to his Instagram.
“I can assure you, POTUS was not telling this Cub Scout and the Boy Scouts who followed about his electoral college victory,” read his caption. “Some days this account is the only thing that makes the current administration bearable,” one commenter responded.
On Twitter, former Boy Scouts decried President Trump’s actions more pointedly.
As Scouts, we were taught never to make our service about politics. Scouts are not supposed to appear in uniform at political events.
— Ted Genoways (@TedGenoways) July 25, 2017
I’m an Eagle Scout. Trump using the 30,000 BoyScouts as his props tonight was a scene out of Triumph of the Will. Shocking abuse of children
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) July 25, 2017
— The Hill (@thehill) July 25, 2017
This is when I remind everyone that I am an Eagle Scout. I am mortified by this whole embarrassing spectacle. I hope BSA is too.
— Mike Duncan (@mikeduncan) July 25, 2017
— Dr. DaShanne Stokes (@DaShanneStokes) July 25, 2017
— Jeffrey Vagle (@jvagle) July 25, 2017
This is nauseating. I’m an Eagle Scout and a former scoutmaster. The BSA was never partisan. https://t.co/T6W2jGx8eE
— Dan Kennedy (@dankennedy_nu) July 24, 2017
The Boy Scouts of America organization tweeted its official policy — that it is apolitical. But they have not officially criticized the president’s remarks.
This is the Boy Scouts’ official policy on participation in political events. The short version: What happened tonight is against the rules. pic.twitter.com/Q3GvSypELb
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) July 25, 2017