Friday, July 28, 2017

The Art of Preparation & Apology

Sen. John McCain savors the sweet taste of revenge
Many people recognize the oft-quoted motto of the Boy Scouts of America, "Be Prepared" - but not everyone.

It's doubtful Donald Trump was prepared to face the repercussions of his having mocked Arizona Senator John McCain (a former U.S. Navy pilot) for being shot down on a mission over Vietnam, captured then tortured and held as a POW for five years.

McCain had the last laugh this morning as he cast the deciding vote that killed the GOP's last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

There's little question that McCain has been carefully preparing for just the right moment to publicly back-hand Trump since July 2015 when the liar-in-chief had the gall to publicly low-ball McCain as a "dummy" not long before an appearance in front of the Iowa Family Leadership Summit when the draft-dodging hypocrite dismissed the Vietnam combat vet by saying, "I don't like losers."

To add to Trump's humiliation today, his newly-tapped director of communications Anthony Scaramucci is being eviscerated by the press today for his shocking, expletive-ridden tirade against the as-of today now-former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus for allegedly leaking The Mooch's financial disclosure statement (and other juicy tidbits) to the media.

Now remember, Scaramucci was hired as the head of communications for what is arguably the most powerful government institution on the planet, right?

So he reads a tweet from Journalist Ryan Lizza that quoted an anonymous senior White House official revealing that The Mooch was having dinner at the White House with Trump, his wife, right-wing nut-job Sean Hannity and Bill Shine - the former co-president of Fox News who was fired earlier this spring for his role in covering up sexual harassment allegations against Bill O'Reilly.

Does The Mooch shrug it off and demonstrate that sometimes silence is the best answer?

The Mooch speaks with the press in stylish shades 
No, he gets pissed and calls up Ryan Lizza Wednesday night, and while being on the record (it's questionable if he really understands what that means), rips into Priebus  - and in the same interview that was published in The New Yorker on Thursday, also suggests that chief strategist and resident white supremacist Steve Bannon is able to sexually self-satisfy himself in a way that suggests the perpetually-unshaven former Brietbart News executive chair has totally mastered yoga in ways I shudder to imagine.

So while it's still unclear to many people why Scaramucci was hired, aside from his near constant fawning over Trump, what is clear is that The Mooch was totally unprepared to take on the role of White House director of communications.

Conservative commentator Ana Navarro was less sparing in her summary of Scaramucci's comments, on Twitter she called him "an unpinned hand-grenade."

Be prepared.

Those two words are much more than a simple slogan.

For the thousands of boys, men (including myself) and women, fortunate enough to have participated in, supported and enjoyed the challenges and experiences of Scouting over the years, those two words encompass an approach to life that spans beyond the BSA experience into how one approaches life from the standpoint of family, work, spirituality and everything in between.

It's too bad Donald Trump used an opportunity to speak in front of thousands of Boy Scouts gathered for the National Jamboree in West Virginia to (yet again) fan the flames of his obsession-hatred of President Obama, denigrate his political opponents as well as Republican members of the Senate, and ramble on incoherently like an obnoxious drunk at a party.

True to his long history as a "Birther", once again, Trump was not truthful in his disparaging comments about President Obama - he told the crowd that Obama had never addressed a Jamboree without apparently realizing that Obama recorded a video message that was played for the assembled attendees of the 2010 National Jamboree.

A speech that was infinitely more substantive, meaningful and inspiring than Trump's was - to say nothing of the fact that, unlike Trump, Obama actually was a Boy Scout.

BSA Chief Scout Executive
Michael Surbaugh 
In response to the anger and outrage over Trump's inappropriate and deplorable comments in front of thousands of Boy Scouts at the National Jamboree in West Virginia on Monday, Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh drafted a well-written but somewhat milquetoast apology on the BSA's Facebook page.

As a former Boy Scout who was one of the 29,765 scouts who attended the National Jamboree held at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia from July 29th - August 4th 1981, and as a writer, I thought the apology should have spent more time addressing what I and many others consider to be the perversion of everything the Boy Scouts of America stands for that Trump's idiotic comments represented.

The bulk of the apology read like more of a shopping list of all the positive things that had taken place over the course of the Jamboree.

Which is fine, but the problem is that the parents and scouts don't need a rundown of why the Jamboree is a good thing.

Scouters of all generations know the kinds of amazing experiences, activities and personal interactions that take place at the Jamboree - memories that I can tell you from personal experience last a lifetime.

The overall tone of Surbaugh's apology seemed more like he was more concerned with protecting the "brand" of the Jamboree, rather than focusing on more definitively distancing, and distinguishing, the values of the BSA from the repulsive and inappropriate comments Trump gave last Monday.

To be fair, Surbaugh obviously had to walk a fine line in drafting a written apology.

My father was an executive for the Boy Scouts of America for over 25 years, finishing his career as the executive director of the BSA's Northeast Region, which covers 11 states, the northern part of Virginia, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the Trans Atlantic Council (Western Europe).

So I know quite a bit about the internal workings and culture of the BSA's professional executive ranks, and I can tell you that it's populated by many politically conservative individuals from what we would call "Red States" - the BSA is headquartered in Irving, Texas.

That doesn't mean everyone who works for the BSA is a Republican, far from it, but the overall culture of the organization tends to lean right, a reflection that many of the values espoused by the BSA could be regarded as "conservative" in the traditional sense.

Don't take my word for it, if you want to get a snapshot of how members of the scouting community reacted to Trump's speech and Surbaugh's subsequent apology, you may find it instructive to read through some of the hundreds of comments posted on the Boy Scouts of America's Facebook page.

It reveals cultural and political divisions within the scouting community that are reflective of the divisions in the broader American populace - (and within the White House if Trump firing chief of staff Reince Priebus this afternoon is any indication).

Divisions exasperated by a man for whom the necessity, and art of preparation, are elusive concepts.

A man who, like his new communications director, is clearly not prepared for the rigors of working in the White House - let's hope General John F. Kelly knows the Boy Scout motto better than his new erratic boss does.

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