Right Goes Nuts as Obama Skips Scouts Jamboree, Heads to ’The View’
The president won’t be addressing the Boy Scouts of America at the Scouts’ 100th anniversary Jamboree--but he will be going on national talk show The View. Is it because the Scouts are anti-gay?
Some pundits on the right seem to think so. Actor Chuck Norris, who also serves as a columnist at right-wing site Townhall.com, said as much in a recent posting, where he wrote, "President Obama became the honorary president of the BSA in March 2009, and the White House didn’t even mention it. And ever since, any discussions or interactions with the Scouts have been ’don’t ask, don’t tell.’ And how could they, because the president would then have to acknowledge publicly that as honorary president of BSA, he affirmed the Scouts’ oath, beliefs and policies, which prohibit atheists and agnostics from membership and ’avowed’ homosexuals from leadership roles?"
Norris went on to compare Obama with Pontius Pilate, and to quote Thomas Jefferson as saying, "when injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty."
Readers commenting on Norris’ column seemed in agreement that the scouts’ position on gays had some bearing on the White House’s perceived distance from the group. "Americans with homosexuality were the shock troops for Barack throughout the primary process," one comment read. "Obama will need folks with homosexuality again in 2012. Those gay men hate the Boy Scouts and our President must at least act like he doesn’t like them either."
Chat participants at right-wing site FreeRepublic.com--where gay news is obsessively posted and discussed--also theorized that Obama was shunning the Boy Scouts because the organization does not allow gays to serve as troop leaders. "He doesn’t want to offend the gays out there who still despise the Boy Scouts. Playing politics trumps everything with these people," wrote one commentator.
Others promoted the idea that Obama is actually a Kenyan by birth and suggested that his missing the event was, in fact, a boon to the Scouts.
A posting at the blog RedState.com attacked Obama for choosing to appear on the talk show rather than going to the Jamboree, saying that "the White House informed the BOA that obamanation’s schedule conflicts with the king-elect’s last-minute plans to visit New Jersey and make traffic that much worse--while he samples subs (Italian sandwiches)--before he heads to NYC to tape ’The View...’ "
"We have a very thin factual background on little o, but my guess is he never was a scout and certainly couldn’t make the scout’s pledge in all seriousness," the posting added.
The organization itself did not seem to take umbrage. Spokesperson Deron Smith told Fox News that the Scouts knew for months that Obama had a scheduling conflict. "It just depends on his schedule," said Smith.
The Fox News article noted that Obama would address the Jamboree via a pre-recorded video message, and suggested a political motive for the president’s scheduling priorities.
"The talk show appearance comes as campaign season moves into full swing, but also amid efforts to cap the Gulf oil spill for good, contain the damage from an unprecedented leak of Afghanistan war documents and battle Arizona over its immigration law--set to go into effect Thursday," the article read. "Obama also has an out-of-town event planned for Friday in Detroit."
Fox News noted that while not all presidents have managed to attend the Jamboree, which takes place once every four years, the three presidents before Obama all had made appearances at the event. This year marks the 100th anniversary since the founding of the Boy Scouts. Fox News also noted that Obama has twice had groups from the Boy Scouts to the Oval Office.
The oath taken by Boy Scouts includes reference to being "morally straight," which the leadership of the organization deems also to mean heterosexual. The group does not allow open gays to serve as scout leaders, and has expelled young members for declaring themselves to be gay. The Scouts have been taken to court over the policy, with the Supreme Court eventually affirming that the Boy Scouts of America, being a private organization, has the right to deny access to gays, but the question continues to create problems for the group. Most recently, the Scouts went to court to avoid losing a sweetheart deal with the city of Philadelphia, which rents the BSA space for its national headquarters in a city-owned building for only $1 per year. The city said that the market value for rental on the space was $200,000 per year.
Moreover, late last year a youth program associated with the Los Angeles Police Department ended its affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America, due to the BSA’s policy of excluding gays, atheists, and agnostics, which clashed with the city’s non-discrimination policies.
The anti-gay policy also made headlines late last year, when a same-sex Vermont couple were told that they may no longer volunteer their services for their son’s cub scout troop. Elizabeth and Cate Wirth told the media that although their son Dylan had been a Cub Scout for several years and they had volunteered their time for the troupe on past occasions, when they disclosed their relationship to a scout leader they were summarily rejected.
Cate Wirth described herself as "taken aback" at the response that she and her life partner Elizabeth received from the group’s district director, Erik Tanney. The women have long been in a civil union. "I was speechless," Cate Wirth told a local newspaper. The troupe had been looking for parents to volunteer, but despite the Wirth’s past involvement Tanney turned them down as soon as they informed him of their family status.
The particular facts of the situation brought criticism even from some Democrats. Fox News noted that Ed Rendell, the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, dismissed "The View" by comparing it to "The Jerry Springer Show."
"I think the president should be accessible, should answer questions that aren’t pre-screened, but I think there should be a little bit of dignity to the presidency," said Rendell, in comments during an MSNBC appearance.