PENDLETON, Ore., Sept. 3 - In his first public appearance after the Republican convention, Vice President Dick Cheney stood by every one of the administration's foreign and economic policies in a speech here on Friday that drew unflattering comparisons with the positions of Senator John Kerry.
Arrayed on the stage were veterans in American Legion caps, Boy Scouts whose sashes were thick with merit badges, three young women in fancy cowgirl costumes with fringed vests and, beside them, two people dressed as American Indians, complete with beaded accessories and single-feathered headbands.
Chartered organizations agree to use the Scouting program in accordance with their own policies as well as those of the BSA. The program is flexible, but major departures from BSA methods and policies are not permitted. As a parent, you should be aware that: ...
- Citizenship activities are encouraged, but partisan political activities are prohibited.
- Boy Scouts of America (PDF file)
Do not wear the uniform in situations that might mistakenly imply an endorsement by the BSA of a product, service, political candidate, or philosophy. Scouts and Scouters [adult leaders] are encouraged to take part in political matters as private individuals but not while wearing the uniform.
- Greater Salt Lake Council, Boy Scouts of America
The Greater Salt Lake Council policy is a restatement of national policy, and is not restricted to Salt Lake. I include it because I think it's clearer and more explicit than the national statement I found.
Two other relevant points. The Boy Scouts of America is chartered by Congress. And Eagle scouts receive an official, wallet-size card that includes the signature of the president of the United States.
Can the line between partisan and nonpartisan activities be hazy? Well, sure. Recently I covered an appearance by George W. Bush in Stratham, New Hampshire. Uniformed Boy Scouts (and Girl Scouts) were all over the place. But they had set up booths to sell food to the picnic-goers, raising money for their troops. None of them appeared on stage with the president.
But it sounds like uniformed scouts in Pendleton actually took part in lending an undeserved touch of class to Cheney's attacks on Kerry.
In the photo above, from the East Oregonian website, you can just make out a few uniformed scouts behind Cheney.