On the night that changed the course of the American presidency in wicked ways we’re only beginning to experience, my 3-year-old granddaughter followed her mother into the bedroom, where she had gone to hide from her child the disappointment at what was shaping up to be a win for Donald Trump.
“What’s wrong, mommy? Did the bad guy win?” Isabela asked.
That memory of innocence encapsulating a historic moment came flooding back as I heard President Trump address the Boy Scouts of America in West Virginia in another revolting narcissistic display of all he was during the campaign.
Yes, Isabela, the bad guy won — and there’s nothing sacred anymore in the ugly America of our time.
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The president promised the crowd of 40,000 boys, young men, parents and troop leaders gathered at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree that he would speak about success and achieving your dreams.
“Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?” Trump said.
But after throwing that little curse word around just for kicks and effect, this crass jerk proceeded to do just that — smear partisan politics all over the place, turning an event that should’ve been an inspirational highlight into a campaign rally with obedient boys in uniform answering back with practiced response, the scouts’ three-finger salute and chants of “USA! USA! USA!”
Trump taunted and bullied from his presidential pulpit, and indulged his self-congratulatory nature, embodying none of the principles the Boy Scouts stand for and exhibiting all of the diminishing personality traits they should avoid.
Instead of encouraging young people to embrace service and fellowship, the boys heard their president call Washington “a cesspool” and “a sewer.” Instead of showing grace in winning, they heard him degrade former President Barack Obama and Trump’s opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and gloat about election night. And they heard him brag about the “record” crowd size at the rally, taking credit for what was not his doing. An 80-year tradition, the Jamboree attracts scouts from all over the world and has a distinguished history of hosting bigger presidential figures than Trump will ever be.
One recorded line from the message President Obama sent the Jamboree in 2010 on the 100th anniversary of the Boy Scouts is worth more than all of Trump’s boastful and undignified 35-minute speech. Obama, a former scout, couldn’t attend the Jamboree, but he spoke with eloquence about what service means. He reminded scouts of the men who walked on the moon; 11 out of 12 were scouts. He recalled the vital role that scouts played during World War II running messages and selling war bonds. And he praised their own service as volunteers.
No scout himself, Trump couldn’t control his insecurities, not even before a crowd of young people. At every turn, he bashed the media, spreading the “fake news” mantra with which he covers up his misdeeds and incompetence along with his and his family’s treasonous shenanigans: engaging with a foreign power with much to gain from the presidency of a bozo.
After Trump was elected and angst began to grip all of us who worry about our children’s future, a colleague tweeted: “Barack Obama didn’t raise my daughters and neither will Donald Trump.”
It’s a comforting thought, but our children are listening even when we think they aren’t, and exercising judgment.
I was watching the Republican convention when I heard a shriek behind me. “That’s nasty. That’s nasty!” my grandson, 7, called out. I quickly grabbed the remote and turned off the TV as if I had been watching porn.
And that’s what Trump’s campaign was and this presidency is: Political porn — the degradation of country, the degradation of women, the degradation of immigrants, the degradation of a progressive society that was moving toward tolerance and is plunging down a precipice of authoritarianism, rudeness and disregard for basic human needs.
And not even the Boy Scouts are safe from the nasty.
If you want to feel better, cover the sun with one finger and look the other way.
Once upon a time, we hid gruesome crime images and steamy sex scenes on television from our children.
Now, it’s the president.