Thursday, August 3, 2017

Scout's Dishonor

Image from Outside Online, and an article by Wes Siler on the ways Donald Trump violated the Scout Law in his jamboree speech (all of 'em, Katie). 

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, President Donald Trump said the Boy Scouts called him after his highly criticized speech at the National Jamboree and told him it was “the greatest speech that was ever made to them.”...
During The Wall Street Journal interview, the President claimed the Scouts called him after the speech thanking him for his address. He said the crowd “loved” his speech and there was a “standing ovation” from the time he walked on the stage to the time he left, according to the interview transcript which Politico obtained and released Tuesday.

But it didn't happen, according to the Boy Scouts. The organization's only response was Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh apologizing to the attending Scouts for the “political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree.”
“...There was no mix,” Trump said, responding to the reporter’s assertions that there were mixed reactions to his speech. He also claimed it was the “biggest crowd they’ve ever had” at a National Jamboree.
The Boy Scouts told BuzzFeed that the largest crowd ever at a National Jamboree was in 1960, when 56,000 attended and there was an address by President Eisenhower. Eisenhower also did not boast about his Electoral College margin over Adlai Stevenson, retail stories of meeting elderly real estate developers at cocktail parties, or promise Scouts that "You'll be saying 'Merry Christmas' again when you go shopping." There were altogether 40,000 at last week's jamboree (not 45,000, as Trump claimed).

And then on Monday Trump was introducing his new chief of staff, General Kelly, to his cabinet, with an enthusiastic review of Kelly's performance as secretary of homeland security, as reported by CBS News:
"At Homeland, what he has done has been nothing short of miraculous," Mr. Trump said of Kelly.
He went on, saying, "As you know, the border was a tremendous problem and they're close to 80 percent stoppage. And even the president of Mexico called me -- they said their southern border, very few people are coming because they know they're not going to get through our border, which is the ultimate compliment."
But President Enrique Peña Nieto did nothing of the sort.
In a statement released by the Mexican Foreign Ministry, Nieto "has not recently spoken to President Donald Trump over the telephone."
(Copy editor's complaint: his name is not "Nieto". If you want to call him by a single name it's "Peña", his father's surname, not "Nieto", his mother's.)

Sarah Huckabee Sanders had an interesting explanation:
The stories were not fabrications, Ms. Sanders insisted. “Multiple members of the Boy Scouts leadership” had praised Mr. Trump’s speech in Glen Jean, W.Va., after he finished last week, she said. And Mr. Trump and President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico had discussed border enforcement last month on the sideline of the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany, she added. “I wouldn’t say it was a lie — that’s a pretty bold accusation,” Ms. Sanders said. “The conversations took place, they just simply didn’t take place over a phone call, they happened in person.”
Ah, "many people were saying" these patently false statements, that the jamboree speech was the greatest ever made, to the largest crowd, just not on the phone; and President Peña Nieto—we know something about his conversation with Trump in Hamburg, and it doesn't look like he was enthusiastically praising the US president:
Asked by reporters if he expected Mexico to finance a border wall, Trump responded: “Absolutely.” Peña Nieto sat silently next to him.
The meeting – the first between the two leaders since Trump took office – again highlighted Trump’s insensitivities toward Mexico, while Peña Nieto’s passivity brought back bad memories for many Mexicans.
t's been quite a week for Trump lies, starting with the revelation that he took a role in crafting Little Donald's attempt to deny he was seeking to collude with Russians in obtaining damaging information on Hillary Clinton, contrary to Jay Sekulow's insistence that Big Donald had nothing to do with it and hadn't even known he meeting took place. With all the lovely details that convict him on literary, though not legal grounds, such as the way Little Donald's team thought it would be wisest to tell the truth until Big Donald came in and straightened them out (urging your son to deceive is "what any father would do"), or the rhyme between what he told them to emphasize—"we talked about adoptions"—and his report of that G-20 meeting with V.V. Putin:

Just talked about — things. Actually, it was very interesting, we talked about adoption.
HABERMAN: You did?
TRUMP: We talked about Russian adoption. Yeah. I always found that interesting. Because, you know, he ended that years ago. And I actually talked about Russian adoption with him, which is interesting because it was a part of the conversation that Don [Jr., Mr. Trump’s son] had in that meeting. As I’ve said — most other people, you know, when they call up and say, “By the way, we have information on your opponent,” I think most politicians — I was just with a lot of people, they said [inaudible], “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?” They just said——
HABERMAN: The senators downstairs?
TRUMP: A lot of them. They said, “Who wouldn’t have taken a meeting like that?”
BAKER: You asked them about it at lunch?
A lot of people said. I think I know where that one comes from, at least: it was Trump who said it to "a lot of" Senators, and they nervously nodded, just like the "everybody" who was mysteriously obsessed with John Podesta when he was having dinner with the South Korean president and Japanese prime minister in Hamburg. Similarly, he may have told Peña Nieto what he seems to remember Peña Nieto telling him. In most of his interactions, Trump does virtually all the talking, and the memory he comes away with confuses his monologue with the idea that there must have been a conversation.

But it's cute how, having had to drop the deception he crafted for Don Jr. when The Times turned up Don's email chain, he's recycling it in his account of the Putin meeting. Why waste a perfectly good falsehood?

But all this was yesterday—it's old news now.

(I don't even want to think about the new thing where Trump and Spicer are supposed to have colluded, from a safer distance, in the Fox News conspiracy to push the story that it was poor Seth Rich, as opposed to the Russian Federation's intelligence operations, who stole all those emails from his employers at the DNC, under the pretext that they were trying to "solve" Rich's murder, on his parents' behalf.)

What are we supposed to do with Trump's extravagant lying? I don't think there's a lot of political value in just exposing it, as if his supporters would suddenly turn around in shock and abjure him, or the press would start refusing to report anything he says unless they can find two corroborating sources ("Good morning, folks," said the president, but The Times was unable to confirm that). But I can't let them go. Maybe it's important to just keep analyzing them, to come to a better understanding of what we're up against.

But then we come up with those imaginary phone calls, lies he could not have imagined would be believed, and you can't even speculate on what he thought he was trying to accomplish.

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