President DonaldTrump, front left, gestures as former boys scouts, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, left, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, watch at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit in Glen Jean,W. Va., Monday, July 24, 2017.Steve Helber/AP
Former Acting CIA Director John McLaughlin was apparently not a fan of President Donald Trump’s Monday night speech at the Boy Scouts of America’s National Jamboree in West Virginia.
“Trump’s Boy Scout speech had the feel of a third world authoritarian’s youth rally,” McLaughlin, who was former President George W. Bush’s CIA chief, tweeted Monday.
Speaking to a crowd of more than 40,000 Boy Scouts, Trump started by saying “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts, right?”
But then he did just that, jesting that he’d fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price if the Senate didn’t pass healthcare legislation, and blasting Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, “fake news,” and even wealthy real-estate developer William Levitt.
Trump’s Boy Scout speech had the feel of a third world authoritarian’s youth rally.
— john mclaughlin (@jmclaughlinSAIS) July 25, 2017
“It just gave me the creeps,” McLaughlin told Business Insider, adding that “it was like watching the late Venezuelan [President Hugo] Chavez.”
“You want to signal to young people the concept in democracy of loyal opposition, of remaining loyal to government,” which doesn’t exist in third world dictatorships, McLaughlin said.
But instead, “he was attacking his predecessor for no good reason, and his competitor in the last election,” the former CIA chief said. “He was showing disloyalty to his subordinates … ranting on about financial stories in New York.”
Trump basically told the Boy Scouts, “don’t respect your opponents, only believe me, and cheer for me,” McLaughlin said.
President Donald Trump waves to the crowd of scouts at the 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree at the Summit in Glen Jean,W. Va., Monday, July 24, 2017.Steve Helber/AP
“What message is this giving to young people?” McLaughlin asked rhetorically.
The former CIA official said that the power of the presidency is the power to inspire, and there was nothing inspirational about the speech.
He also said that there is an arrogant posture to Trump’s body language that doesn’t suggest an “openness to ideas.”
McLaughlin was not the only Republican critical of Trump’s speech, and even the Boy Scouts distanced themselves from it afterwards.
“The Boy Scouts of America is wholly nonpartisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate, or philosophy,” the Boy Scouts said in a statement. “The invitation for the sitting US president to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition and is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies.”