Saturday, September 04, 2004

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.

- New York Times, 9/4/04

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.


Anonymous said...

Wow, a little time on your hands Dan? Did you meet "Deep Merit Badge" in a darkened garage? Guess this means we won't have to hear about Scouts being "homophobes" for a while..

Dan Kennedy said...

Hey, Anonymous --

It's always interesting to see the assumptions that people like you make. This is very important to me. If you do a little research on the Web (it's all there) you'll find out why.

Free prize if you can one instance where I've ever referred to "Scouts being 'homophobes.'"

Anonymous said...

This Anon was hoping you'd comment on AP's 'Boogate'. Not only was the story a fabrication, but AP has so far refused to come clean about it. Strange deal.

Anonymous said...

Check it out.

JoshSN said...

Thanks Dan. Reminds me of the time the Defense Department "happened" to put on one of their big annual shows across the street from a major RNC event.

Was that the DoD playing politics? Of course not, they were just showing off their patriotism!

Anonymous said...

Hey Dan,
Me again. Guess I wasn't granular enough. My point was not that scouting is or should be homophobic.I do know that this is important to you. It's just that you presume, like many idealogues, that IT SHOULD BE IMPORTANT TO US. (Check your demographic, are lots of BSA families reading the escort ads?) You are right in pointing out that politics should not be mixed with scouting. Tell it to the guy in the mirror. Or is this about politics and not scouting?

Zolok said...

As an Eagle Scout and a former Summer Camp Counselor, all I can say is that I'm appalled at the overt BSA presence at Cheney's latest rant.
The old BSA, the one I grew up with in the 1970's was way more circumspect about candidates and politicians.
But alas the BSA has been trending rightward since my day which is a shame because the organization has many virtues in my opinion.